Sue Nichterlein

Letter from New York

Cold winds are blowing across Manhattan now from the East River and the Hudson. New Yorkers are scuttling round the grid of their streets, using the megalithic buildings for baffles.

The Museum of Modern Art is celebrating its 50th anniversary with reconstruction and conservation. While the jackhammers demolish the surrounding real estate to prepare the ground for the mammoth new MOMA complex, a wondrously wealthy exhibition of the Museum’s definitive collection of the Art of the Twenties has been mounted in the few galleries still left standing.

Nine days after the New York Stock Exchange crashed, the Museum of Modern Art opened, on November 7, 1929, with an exhibition of Cezanne, Gaugin, Seurat and Van Gogh. Its first director was a young Harvard graduate, Alfred H. Barr, Jr. For its 50th anniversary, the Museum has chosen to exhibit an international survey of the contemporary arts of the 20s – the exhibition that Barr would have liked to present as MOMA’s inaugural. It is a tribute to his directorship that all the items have been drawn from the Museum’s own collection.

And an extraordinarily wealthy exhibition it is.

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