ARTISTS' TO-DO LISTS AT THE MORGANMay 18, 2011
If great artists are eccentric, obsessive and disorganized, as the stereotype goes, it follows that they have to work even harder to organize their thoughts. That, at least, is the implication behind the new exhibition “Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations from the Smithsonian’s Archives,” opening at the Morgan Library and Museum, June 3-Oct. 2, 2011. [Image: A list by Picasso, 1912]
More than a collection of grocery lists, the 80 items on view offer snapshots into the habits and inner worlds of their makers. Lee Krasner, for instance, enumerated her thoughts on the process of creating, showing and selling her work, while Janice Lowry built a visual journal of dream memories, to-do lists and appointment reminders. Then there are the quirky inventories of ephemera: Franz Kline’s $274.51 liquor store receipt, Eero Saarinen’s ode to art critic (and future wife) Aline Bernstein, and Robert Smithson’s compilation of quotes about spirals.
At times the lists are true historical artifacts -- most famously, Picasso’s list of recommendations for the 1913 Armory Show, which included Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Légerand Juan Gris. Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase (1912), he predicted, just might cause a controversy.