Too Modern for The MOMA?

Today Kid Flash and I took his family to the Brooklyn Museum of Art to see the James Tissot exhibit (which is AMAZING and if you are at all interested you should definitely see it before it goes back into their vaults. They own the whole collection of this work, 350 pieces, but haven't displayed it since the 80's.) While waiting for the rest of our party to show up we had a latte at the little Illy stand in the lobby. Behind us at the table were two older couples who were clearly art afficianados, they had a deep discussion of pottery glazing in its various forms, and they were discussing the various exhibits that are currently up in town. The most interesting though was that one woman spent quite a while expounding on how silly she thought it was that the MOMA had an exhibit of Tim Burton. She found it insulting that this "cartoon guy" was allowed to be shown in such an important institution. Of course, she acquiesced that she "supposed" people of a "certain generation" may think of him as iconic, but that she just didn't understand how he rated an exhibition.

Here is a museum who states their own mission as "helping you understand and enjoy the art of our time." Yet somehow it was patently offensive to this woman that Tim Burton, one of the more unique artistic voices of our time was being recognized. I find that sort of hidebound attitude in art to be spectacularly bizarre. Yes, I would probably balk if Tim Burton was being exhibiting in the Met, or perhaps even the Guggenheim, but isn't that the whole point of MOMA? MOMA has always been on the cutting edge of art exhibition, even to the point of being accused of being communist conspirators in the 50's when the art world was under fire from McCarthy. They've shown graffiti artists, questionable installation artists, and every objectionable art figure from Maplethorpe to Warhol to Haring. Is it just that Burton is part of Hollywood, or that a portion of his work is child centric? I've tried all day but I just can't figure why he had upset this woman so deeply. Any ideas?

1 Response to "Too Modern for The MOMA?"

  • addisonbr Says:

    I think you're basically right on all points (about commerical success, with a dash of "kids don't hate it"). If it had been an Art Spiegelman exhibit there would have been no issue.

    Also about the generational thing. Art can be a little like science (advancing "one funeral at a time").