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The Un-Museum: Renewed New Museum Cuts to the Edge

Rendering (not actual photo) of the new New Museum
Before I get to yet another mischievous photo essay, let’s cut to the chase: New York’s new New Museum, despite its larger and more elegant Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA-designed digs (above), is still an uninstitutional institution, as envisioned by its late founder, Marcia Tucker. And that’s all to the good: New York’s market-obsessed, reputation-fixated artworld sorely needs a scrappy, edgy, bobbing-and-weaving outpost of the untidy cutting edge.
With this Bowery powerhouse’s 30-hour free public opening on Saturday (no more timed tickets available, alas), we’ve now got what we need, along with a group of curator/scouts who know their way around this dangerous territory and aren’t afraid to be REALLY provocative.
This true subversiveness contrasts with the so-called “Provocation” section in yet another lifeless installation of the Museum of Modern Art’s contemporary collection, recently opened. MoMA’s idea of provocation is “overturning standards of good taste and decorum,” which seems somehow decorous, compared to what goes down at the Bowery. We can only hope that MoMA takes some notes on how to unleash contemporary energy. Its incoming associate director, Kathy Halbreich, must Walker-ize the place, immediately.
The New Museum’s chief curator, Richard Flood, told me at the press preview today that part of his place’s “new art, new ideas” credo involves being poised to “turn on a dime….We will move shows very quickly. Our pace is faster than our colleagues’.”
Not quite fast enough, however, to get those labels up in time for the press preview:
Senior Curator Laura Hoptman, left, and Director of Special Exhibitions Massimiliano Gioni, right, work so fast to sort the object labels on the floor that they blur my photograph.
COMING SOON: More Images and Irreverence.

an ArtsJournal blog