The Power of Display
A History of Exhibition Installations at the Museum of Modern Art
In this groundbreaking examination of installation design as an aesthetic medium and cultural practice, Staniszewski offers the first history of exhibitions at the most powerful and influential modern art museum—The Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Art historians, traditionally, have implicitly accepted the autonomy of the artwork and ignored what Mary Anne Staniszewski calls "the power of display." In this groundbreaking examination of installation design as an aesthetic medium and cultural practice, Staniszewski offers the first history of exhibitions at the most powerful and influential modern art museum—The Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Focusing on over two hundred photographs of the visually rich but overlooked history of exhibitions, Staniszewski documents and deciphers an essential chapter of twentieth-century art and culture and provides a historical and theoretical framework for a primary area of contemporary aesthetic practice—installation-based art. Staniszewski treats installations as creations that manifest values, ideologies, politics, and of course aesthetics. Incorporating analysis of display techniques used in department stores, natural history museums, non-Western art galleries, and the international avant-gardes' exhibitions of the first half of the century, she makes visible both the explicit and covert meanings found in exhibitions. Some of the questions she addresses are: What sorts of viewers do different types of installations "create"? How do exhibition designs affect the meanings and receptions of specific objects, images, artifacts, and buildings when they are displayed? How do installations shape the viewer's experience of the cultural ritual of a museum visit? How does an amnesia regarding exhibition design affect art history, the art world, and collective cultural memories? Among the artists, designers, architects, and curators whose installations the author features are Dennis Adams, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Herbert Bayer, RenÃ© d'Harnoncourt, Ray and Charles Eames, Hans Haacke, David Hammons, Philip Johnson, Frederick Kiesler, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, El Lissitzky, Adrian Piper, Lilly Reich, William Rubin, Paul Rudolph, Edward Steichen, Giuseppe Terragni, and Kirk Varnedoe.
HardcoverOut of Print ISBN: 9780262194020 408 pp. | 9.5 in x 9.5 in
PaperbackOut of Print ISBN: 9780262692724 408 pp. | 9.5 in x 9.5 in
The Power of Display explores modernism as a diverse set of practices that has always included the arts of publicity, promotion, and presentation alongside the seemingly 'pure' arts of painting and sculpture. This important new book looks far beyond the insitutional history of MoMA—it reveals the importance of exhibition design to the toal discourse of modernism and the avant-garde. Beginning in the 1920s, avant-garde artists and designers invented new ways to engage the public's experience of exhibition environments. Mary Anee Staniszewski has brought her subject to life with her direct and unencumbered prose, vivide quotations from primary sources, and generously scaled illustrations. This book is essential reading to anyone egaged in the fields of modern art and design.
Adjunct curator of Contemporary Design, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution
Focusing on the history of exhibition design at the Museum of Modern Art, Staniszewski's meticulously researched text is a valuable study of shifts in institutional practices and how these reflect broader cultural paradigms. An engrossing interdisciplinary study that encompasses art, architecture, and design history, as well as American studies, museum studies, theories of representation and communication, etc., this work also makes a significant contribution by its identification and analysis of exhibition design as a distinct genre.
Elizabeth A. T. Smith
Curator, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles