Saturday, November 19, 2011


I took some students through MoMA today. It is remarkable that so many works in its collection which many people once found shocking and deeply offensive now wear the aura of "classic." It is amazing to think that the most recent work reproduced below, Johns' Flag, is more than 50 years old. Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon is now more than a century old.

I read somewhere a story related by Edward Mendelsohn about what people considered shocking and offensive in 1920s Paris. A woman stood up in the middle of a performance of a chamber work by Maurice Ravel (RAVEL?!!) and loudly asked if this was music suitable for war veterans or widows.

Here is a small sample of works in MoMA that once made legions of people furious.

Auguste Rodin, Balzac

Pablo Picasso, Le Demoiselles d'Avignon

Meret Oppenheim, Luncheon in Fur

Kazimir Malevich, White on White Painting

Jasper Johns, Flag

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