MoMA acquires 324 works of early 20th-century avant-garde art and graphic design

Date
18 May 2018
Reading Time
1 minute read
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Marianne Brandt (German, 1893–1983). Les sports. 1928. Original collage: cut-and-pasted printed papers on paper, 19 × 12 1/4″ (48.3 × 31.1 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Merrill C. Berman Collection

Over the past 40 years, Merrill C. Berman has amassed a collection of avant-garde art and graphic design, 324 pieces of which The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has now acquired. As one of the most significant collections of early 20th-century works on paper, the acquisition focuses on the core of Berman’s collection: works that demonstrate experimentation as well as the social and political engagement of artists in this period.

As well as demonstrating the breadth of themes explored, the acquisition is a visual timeline giving an overview of the major avant-garde movements – Dada, the Bauhaus, de Stijl, Futurism and Russian Constructivism. The collection includes examples of the period’s pioneering typography and dynamic use of photomontages with works from Aleksandr Rodchenko, Lyubov Popova, John Heartfield and Hannah Höch.

“Long admired by our curators across the museum for its outstanding representation of the avant-garde activities of the first decades of the 20th century, the Merrill C. Berman Collection is a transformative addition to the museum’s holdings,” remarks Glenn D. Lowry, director of The Museum of Modern Art. “In bringing this private collection to the public, this acquisition offers the possibility of sharing new and complex stories of the period with our visitors while making rare historical materials available to scholars.”

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Henryk Berlewi (Polish, 1894–1967). Mechano-Faktur. 1924. Gouache on paper, 32 5/8 × 42 7/8″ (82.9 × 108.9 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Merrill C. Berman Collection

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Gustav Klutsis (Latvian, 1895–1938). The Reality of Our Program—It is Living People (Real’nost’ nashei programmy. Eto – zhivye liudu, eto my s vami). 1931. Lithograph on paper, 56 11/16 × 40 3/4″ (144 × 103.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Merrill C. Berman Collection

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Aleksandr Rodchenko (Russian, 1891–1956). Have Sun at Night! (Daite solntse noch’iun). 1923. Gouache, ink, and pencil on gelatin silver print, 4 3/8 × 11 3/16″ (11.1 × 28.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Merrill C. Berman Collection

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Nikolai Sedelnikov (Russian, 1905–1994). Advertising Technique (Tekhnika reklamy, No. 2). 1930. Gelatin silver print, cut-and-pasted halftone photographs, and gouache on paper, 12 × 9″ (30.5 × 22.9 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Merrill C. Berman Collection

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Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.

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