New York

“Different Roads”

MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

The exclusive association of MoMA’s history with the European-centered high modernism of Picasso and Mondrian is in need of serious revision. Alfred Barr, the museum’s first director, conceived of breaking the institution into separate departments out of a desire to put the so-called minor arts of photography, film, and industrial design on an equal footing with painting and sculpture. While Barr did not agree with Duchamp’s dismissive statement that “the only works of art America has given are her plumbing and her bridges,” he did complain in 1940 of “the tendency of the public to identify art with painting and sculpture,” while claiming that “no other museum in the country has done as much to further the interest of American photography, American films, American architecture and American industrial design.” The focus on applied and industrial arts led the museum to begin staging design

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