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The Matchmaker

Vik Muniz on guest-curating his MoMA show.


Picasso (left) and Scheeler  

Vik Muniz is the latest artist to present a show in the Museum of Modern Art’s “Artist’s Choice” series. The idea is simple—a visiting curator gets to go wild, picking and choosing from one of the world’s great art collections—and Muniz’s show, called “Rebus,” tries to reflect his process of discovery. “We started with one piece, then searched the entire collection to find the next one, and so on.” At the heart of the exhibit are artworks that he’s paired, one reverberating into the next, to create “a residual effect.” (Muniz’s own art isn’t shown, but it tends toward reconceptions, like a Mona Lisa made of peanut butter and jelly, that depend on such echoes.) Straightforward on the surface, these diptychs have resonances beyond the obvious, and New York asked Muniz to talk about five of them.

1. Harmonics
Maquette for Guitar, Pablo Picasso (1912) and African Musical Instrument, Charles Sheeler (1917)
“Picasso loved African art,” says Muniz “There’s a structural connection between his cardboard sculpture of a deconstructed guitar and the print by Sheeler—which is a photo-realistic facsimile of an African instrument.” He adds that Picasso’s model, for a later sheet-metal sculpture, “was probably one of the first times in history that someone made a sculpture, an art object, about something common.” (That’s echoed by the next object in the show, which is Dieter Rams’s stereo turntable from the MoMA design collection: “A beautiful object on its own which has become a relic.”)

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