In & Out of Amsterdam at MoMA

Amsterdam in the 1970s functioned as a hub for Conceptual artists, MoMA’s thorough, enlightening new exhibition documents. Old exhibition posters lead you down the hall into rooms of slide projectors and photographs. For me, it drew connections between various familiar and unfamiliar artists. For example, this wall:

is not Sol Le Witt, but by Lawrence Weiner, or at least according to his directions. So which came first, the Weiner or the Sol?

All the art felt dated, and the exhibition felt like a collection of excavated fossils brought out for study at the Natural History Museum. Partly the concepts have been absorbed into mainstream contemporary art, so that a video of a chorus singing doesn’t have the same effect it once would have and Gilbert and George’s living art is remembered with nostalgia.

Personally, I found it hard to pay so much attention to artifacts that lacked real intellectual or visual interest. For all that I found certain pieces cool or neat, I never really felt engaged. That doesn’t diminish the scholarly and historical value of the exhibition, and it’s quite possible I’m not familiar enough with the material to get it, but I found it a challenging exhibition to really enjoy. Maybe any thorough exhibition of conceptual art is bound to be, in my case at least, in one ear–

Photograph of exhibition wall [ears mine].

–and out the other.

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