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René d'Harnoncourt and the Art of Installation

  • Tuesday, November 13, 2018
  • 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Museum of Modern Art Archives & Library, 4 W 54th St, New York, Ny 10019
  • 0

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The Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York (ART) and the New York chapter of ARLIS/NA are pleased to announce a special event on the publication of René d'Harnoncourt and the Art of Installation by The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Handsomely designed and richly illustrated with drawings, layout plans, and photographs from the René d'Harnoncourt Papers in the MoMA Archives, the book provides a wonderfully comprehensive and detailed portrait of the curator and his pioneering approach to installation methodology. Michelle Elligott, Chief of the MoMA Archives, Library, and Research Collections, will give a lecture on the archival research that led to the creation of the book, and collection items featured in the book will be on display. The program will be followed by a reception in the MoMA Library.


René d'Harnoncourt served as the director of MoMA from 1949 to 1968, and was known for his conscientious approach to curating exhibitions and his genius for installation design and display. His interest in non-Western and non-modern art shaped much of MoMA's ambitious programming in the mid-20th century: in addition to shows addressing modern art, such as The Sculpture of Picasso (1968) and Modern Art in Your Life (1949), he organized exhibitions devoted to themes not generally associated with MoMA, including Indian Art of the United States (1941), Arts of the South Seas (1946), Ancient Arts of the Andes (1954) and Art of the Asmat: The Collection of Michael C. Rockefeller (1962).

This publication delves deep into the MoMA Archives to reveal d'Harnoncourt's mastery of installation through an essay by Michelle Elligott and an exploration of 12 of the exhibitions he installed at MoMA, each richly illustrated by d'Harnoncourt's mostly previously unpublished sketches alongside exhibition photographs. A master draftsman, d'Harnoncourt produced meticulous sketches of installation vistas as well as the objects included in his exhibitions. An illustrated chronology of d'Harnoncourt's life rounds out the volume, detailing his multifaceted journey from birth as a count into a landowning family in Austria, to his time as a commercial artist in Mexico, to his post working for Nelson A. Rockefeller in the US State Department (Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs), which eventually led to his appointment at MoMA.

6:00 – 6:30 Registration
6:30 – 7:00 Lecture

7:00 – 8:00 Reception

The Museum of Modern Art Archives & Library are ADA accessible spaces.

Pictured, above: René d'Harnoncourt installing "Arts of the South Seas," January 1946.
Courtesy Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York. Photographic Archive.
Photo: William Leftwich

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