In The MoMA, Vik Muniz—known for his reinterpretations of historical artworks done in unusual materials (like chocolate syrup or spaghetti)—engages two pillars of modernity: Alfred Stieglitz, an influential early twentieth-century proponent of modernism in the United States, and the Museum of Moden Art (MoMA).
Muniz conceived this series in 1992. As he was leaving an exhibition of Stieglitz’s photographs at MoMA, he noticed the similarities between Stieglitz’s series of photographs of clouds abstracted from the broader expanse of sky, titled Equivalents, and the museum lobby’s gray and white marble floor. Using a flashlight and a painted dime, Muniz made his own version, printed at the same size and on the same paper as Stieglitz’s. The MoMA has a distinctly postmodern attitude, exploring art historical tradition and evolution by establishing multiple “equivalents”: between a marble floor and a cloudy sky, Stieglitz’s original photographs and Muniz’s playful imitations, the literal and conceptual image.
The donor of these photographs, Steven Jacobson, began to collect Muniz’s work after seeing it in MoMA’s New Photography 13 exhibition in 1997—the first time Muniz’s own work was shown at the museum.
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