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Video transcript

this exhibition assembles more than 200 works of art made honest artists in the 40s 50s and 60s what's amazing to me is they all come from the collection of this museum for me it was very important to do this exhibition for two reasons one is the sheer pleasure and the sheer I felt importance of 50 or 60 years later looking again at Abstract Expressionism it's become something so identified with New York and with MoMA and something that we take for granted almost as much as we take something like French Impressionism for granted like oh yes those beautiful landscapes by Monet and I thought over the last year or two but this is painting and sculpture that we need to look at again and now that it's the 21st century see what of it really carries forward its message into this next century it's been a long time now since that worked out a serious reconsideration I think it's going to be exhilarating frankly to see the power of these objects in the galleries the ambition the sheer majesty and grandeur of this art because that's very much what its creators wanted it to be is something that is knocking my socks off anyway all over again but the other reason that I wanted to do this exhibition is to point out to our visitors that what you normally see at the Museum of Modern Art you're seeing the tip of an iceberg the real Museum of Modern Art is not what you see on the walls and the galleries you're walking through as a visitor the real Museum of Modern Art is in our drawing Center in our print Center in our photography Study Center where there are just hundreds and thousands of works of art that we've collected over the decades but that obviously there isn't the space to show on a regular basis so for me this is actually a quite thrilling opportunity to have our visitors get the chance to walk through what is actually in total 25,000 square feet worth of gallery space all devoted to subject that people can immerse themselves in can really dig into instead of just seeing the normal two or three paintings by Mark Rothko see ten paintings by Mark Rothko instead of just seeing the big names like Mark Rothko Jackson Pollock C works by names of artists such as Jack tor qov William Bozzio T's grace Hartigan Lee Krasner people who were incredibly important at that time had major major impact on their peers and yet over time their names have not been remembered as well the Newseum of modern art is often very closely identified with Abstract Expressionism we were on hand for Abstract Expressionism his birth in small part at least one can say because MoMA did exist and because MoMA was here to show that art from the first half of the century by European greats such as Matisse and Picasso to the young artists at work in New York although we are so closely identified with Abstract Expressionism today and indeed our collection is the richest in the world in the beginning this museum was slow to come to Abstract Expressionism it was not obvious at the end of the 40s that this was a movement that had some kind of coherence and was going to be as great if not greater than these earlier European Avant Garde's we did buy a Pollock painting by Pollock from his first show at the Peggy Guggenheim gallery in 1943 and we made other historic purchases like that in fact our first Rothko painting which was offered as a gift from a trustee Philip Johnson the architect in fact in 1952 caused another trustee to resign and discussed the early trustees the early audience was not necessarily ready for Abstract Expressionism and I think the curators were conscious of that and wanted to take it slow in 1958 we organized an exhibition called the new American painting it towards to eight country in Europe the influence of that exhibition was enormous on painters in France Switzerland England Spain Italy and when that exhibition was done with its tour it came back and was here at MoMA in 1959 the new American painting and that kind of sealed the movement as a great important art historical phenomenon of the 20th century you