The cake sculpture Pat Lasch created for MoMA’s fiftieth anniversary in 1979. Photo: Pat Lasch.

Work Commissioned by MoMA from Sculptor Pat Lasch Is Discarded Without Her Knowledge

New York–based artist Pat Lasch—a feminist sculptor known for pieces that simultaneously critique and celebrate symbols of femaleness and domesticity, such as wedding veils, dresses, and cakes—recently found out that a sculpture that New York’s MoMA commissioned from her for the museum’s fiftieth anniversary in 1979 has been discarded, writes Randy Kennedy of the New York Times.

The sculpture, a multi-tiered cake made from paper, wood, and paint, was disposed of sometime during the late 1990s, when the museum was cleaning out its storage facilities and found that the work had deteriorated profoundly. Lasch is in the process of organizing a retrospective of her work at the Palm Springs Art Museum––her first––which is scheduled to open in March. She contacted MoMA to see if they’d be willing to lend the work for her show. There was a great deal of silence from the museum for a long time. Then, last fall, MoMA’s head registrar, Stefanii Ruta Atkins, send Lasch an e-mail that read: “I regret to inform you that, following a thorough review of paper records and a physical search of our storage locations, we have not been able to locate the object. Please accept my sincere apologies as well as my very best wishes for the success of your show in Palm Springs.” In a statement, the museum said that the piece was never meant to be preserved as a part of its permanent collection (it does, however, own one of the artist’s paper wedding veils). Kynaston McShine, a renowned curator who commissioned the piece from Lasch in 1979 when he worked for the museum, was approached by the Times for a comment. He has yet to respond.

Lasch’s work has appeared in exhibitions at SculptureCenter, PS1 (now MoMA PS1), and the New Museum. She believes the work was thrown out because she her career has not been as high-profile as many of her peers. Ann Sutherland Harris, a longtime admirer of Lasch’s work and an emerita professor at the University of Pittsburgh, said, “Pat is a survivor. She has kept at it and stayed true to making very ambitious but in some ways very quiet work that transforms things we think we know.”