Masterpieces from Picasso, Cezanne to highlight MoMA QNS exhibition

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In myth, rainbows are said to have a pot of gold at their end. In reality, priceless riches do indeed sit at the end of one rainbow, which is to explode its way across the East River Saturday as MoMA QNS opens its doors to the public.

The Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan is undergoing massive renovation, and temporary gallery space in the former Swingline Stapler factory in Long Island City will open Saturday. Admission will be free this weekend.

The museum is located at 33rd Street and Queens Boulevard. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday; and from 10 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Fridays.

To trumpet the grand opening, a Transient Rainbow will appear for about one minute moving from the East Side of Manhattan to the shores of Long Island City at 9:30 p.m. Saturday as a symbol of the shift from Manhattan to Queens.

Conceived by artist Cai Guo-Qiang and produced by Fireworks by Grucci Inc., Transient Rainbow celebrates the opening of MoMA QNS with a rainbow of fireworks that will cascade across the East River, tracking the Museum’s movement from Manhattan to Queens. The dazzling visual effect will resemble a rapidly moving monumental arch (500 feet wide and 120 feet high), momentarily connecting the two banks at the thundering speed of 100 feet per second.

The best viewing of the event will be from Gantry Plaza State Park, located at 49th Avenue and East River Drive in Long Island City. The park is easily accessible by subway. Take the No. 7 train to Vernon Blvd./Jackson Ave. station and then walk two blocks toward the water.

There will also be a shuttle from MoMA QNS to Gantry Plaza State Park. Shuttles will depart from MoMA QNS beginning at 8:30 p.m. and return at the conclusion of the display.

With an outdoor explosion of light and color, the fireworks will continue inside the museum as some of the best known works in modern art have been selected to be part of the first exhibition at MoMA QNS.

“To Be Looked At: Painting and Sculpture from the Collection” is organized by Kynaston McShine, acting chief curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, and is sponsored by Monique M. Schoen Warshaw.

Spanning 7,500 square feet of exhibition space, “To Be Looked At” is devoted to the ongoing display of highlights from the painting and sculpture collection. Since the museum’s founding in 1929, this collection has grown to number more than 3,500 objects, of which only a fraction can be displayed at any one time.

The inaugural installation of the collection at MoMA QNS presents some of the museum’s most iconic and best-loved works along with works by more contemporary American and European artists. Highlights of the exhibition include Paul Cezanne’s “The Bather” (c. 1885), Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” (1889), Pablo Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (1907), Henri Matisse’s “Dance” (1909), and Henri Rousseau’s “The Dream” (1910).

Also beginning Saturday, there will be four other exhibitions: “Tempo;” “AUTObodies: speed, sport, transport;” “A Walk through Astoria and other places in Queens: Photographs by Rudy Burckhardt;” and “Projects 76: Francis Alÿs.”

“Tempo,” which runs through Sept. 9, focuses on distinct perceptions of time — phenomenological, empirical, political, and fictional. Contemporary artists from the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia map the show into five areas of multimedia installations that examine cultural differences in the construction of time. These include:

Time Collapsed, the systemic and the random are interfaced in a cacophony of clocks, watches, and metronomes;

Transgressive Bodies probes the metabolic processes and erotic drives exercised by the body;

Liquid Time explores the ever-changing flow of time through images of water;

Trans-Histories addresses issues of postcolonialism by engaging the viewer's critical perception of the present through memory; and

Mobility/I­mmobility, where seemingly static video and sculptural pieces, actually in constant motion, destabilize the viewer's perception of time.

“AUTObodies: speed, sport, transport” features the museum's collection of automobiles and debuts three major new acquisitions, including the first American automotive design to enter the collection. Automobiles in the museum's collection have been selected for outstanding aesthetic qualities and because they are historically and culturally influential designs. The exhibition represents a span of five decades of automotive design, including Pinin Farina's Cisitalia 202 GT (1946) and Ferrari's Formula 1 Racing Car 641/2 (1990). Complementing the automobiles are related works from the Museum's collection.

“A Walk through Astoria and Other Places in Queens: Photographs by Rudy Burckhardt,” runs through Nov. 4.

In the early 1940s, Swiss-born photographer and experimental filmmaker Rudy Burckhardt focused his photography on finding beauty in the uncelebrated and untidy details of life in and around Astoria. This exhibition brings together the two private, unpublished albums that Burckhardt made from these photographs. For the first time, Burckhardt's carefully constructed, filmlike sequences — the unique intersection of his work in photography and film — are presented for public enjoyment. This work inspired the poet Edwin Denby to write sonnets about Queens, several of which were pasted into one of Burckhardt's albums and are included in the exhibition.

“Projects 76: Francis Alÿs” is a work in progress that depicts the museum’s move from Manhattan to Queens. That will run through Sept. 16.

MoMA QNS already has its entire listing of exhibitions available on its Web site,, and is planned through to the museum’s return to Manhattan in 2005.

Though the museum will keep its Long Island City home beyond the three-year renovation, most of the Queens facility will be used just for storage. There is talk, however, that exhibition space will continue to be used at the new museum even after the Manhattan home reopens.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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