What brought you into the world
«This is a good question. I would say
it was a tour in a museum when I was
6. My family moved from New York
in Williamstown, a small town in
Massachusetts. In Williamstown there
was only one good museum. My mother
used to take me there quite often,
together with my sisters: I’m not sure
what she thought I could understand, it
was extremely boring for me. One day,
during a visit, I stepped away from the
group and started wandering around
looking for the exit. All of a sudden I
noticed a work by William Adolphe
Bouguereau (painter from late 19th
century ed.). It was a huge painting, a
“cinematic” painting I’d say. I sat down
on the floor and stayed, mesmerized,
still. I never thought about this event
ever again. 30 years later, it came back to
mind: what triggered my passion for art?
Well I studied art at college, but in the
back of my mind there was always that
memory. Art can really transform you,
bring you somewhere else, change your
points of view…».
«Per me pensare “modern” vuole dire soprattutto essere
consci delle varie eguaglianze e differenze con cui, e grazie a cui, esistiamo in questo mondo. I musei oggi possono essere degli spazi, metaforici o fisici, in cui persone
con differenti background, religioni, valori e visioni possono condividere reazioni ed esperienze. Essere moderni
è comprendere che queste differenze concorrono a farci
vivere in un mondo eccitante, entusiasmante. Non in un
We hold where study
di Wu Tsang.
Wu Tsang. We hold
where study. 2017.
(color, sound; 18:56
min.). The Modern
Quali sono gli artisti turchi che possono rappresentare
questo momento storico?
«Ci sono tanti nomi turchi molto interessanti, come il
regista e artista Kutlug˘ Ataman, ad esempio, che usano
l’arte per toccare temi sociopolitici. Lo fanno con acuta
sottigliezza, non sono “politici” in modo smaccato, e sono
consci di come questa nazione si raffronti con un mix di
input unici. La Turchia si trova in una posizione incredibile per diventare un centro globale. Tra le donne penso a
Nur Kocak. Nata a Istanbul, dagli anni ’70 ha concentrato il suo lavoro su tematiche che si riferiscono al gender,
all’identità, al rapporto tra mercato e corpo della donna.
Anche qui: un modo di fare arte femminista molto raffinato e sottile».
Quali sono i musei che suggerirebbe? Quelli meno noti,
«Il Museo Calouste Gulbenkian, a Lisbona, uno dei più
bei musei del mondo, con una collezione eclettica che va
dai grandi maestri della pittura europea, all’arte antica
greca, alle arti applicate e molto altro. Poi direi il Louisiana Museum of Modern Art a Copenaghen: un luogo
pieno di pace, raffinato. E infine, anche se non è proprio
un museo, l’Odawara Art Foundation. Si trova poco fuori
Tokyo, ed è stata creata dall’artista contemporaneo Hiroshi Sugimoto. Per me è l’assoluto sinonimo di perfezione».
Un pittore italiano che ama in particolar modo?
«Non vorrei essere scontato e dire Michelangelo o Leonardo… dirò quindi Andrea Mantegna: amo il suo modo
di dipingere la carne come se fosse scultura, quella nitidezza, quella perfezione. E che dire di Piero della Francesca? La sua gentilezza pittorica è magnifica. Ma potrei
continuare per ore…».
_ ULISSE _ febbraio 2020
In late December Istanbul hosted the
twentieth edition of MARKA, the
international conference and meeting
platform created to spur Turkish
business. This important anniversary has
been dedicated to Istanbul, the border
city, the melting pot of history, religions
and culture and in short, the most
important “brand” in Turkey. Among the
renowned speakers that took part in the
event to share their philosophy with the
audience was the legendary director of
MoMA in New York, Glenn Lowry who
gave an exclusive interview to Ulisse.
Opinion leader, manager and ahead
of his time, Lowry is the only director
that has been allowed to stay in his
post after the normal retirement age of
65. This exceptional man recounts the
meaning of “Thinking modern”, how he
discovered painting and what Turkish
art is able to teach us…
Untitled di Shigeru
Untitled. c. 1955.
Gelatin silver print.
The Museum of
Modern Art, New York.
Self-Portrait with Two Flowers in her Raised
Left Hand, anno 1907.
Paula Modersohn-Becker. Self-Portrait with
Two Flowers in her Raised Left Hand. 1907.
Oil on canvas.
“Thinking Modern” was the theme
of your speech at the 20th edition of
Marka. Why did you pick this concept
and how would you explain it to a
«Thinking “modern” means mostly
© 2004 ESTATE OF PABLO PICASSO / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK
© 2019 WU TSANG
The MoMA director explains
the meaning of “Thinking
modern” and the role
played by museums
in our current society
Ninfee di Claude Monet in esposizione al Museum of Modern Art di New York.
Installation view of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies at The Museum of Modern Art.
KURT HEUMILLER © 2019
THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
being aware of the various similarities
and differences with which, and thanks
to which, we exist in this world. Today
museums can be metaphoric or physical
spaces where people with different
backgrounds, religions, values and ideas
can share reactions and experiences.
Being modern means understanding that
these differences contribute to making us
live in an exciting and stimulating world,
and not in a fragmented world».
Who are the Turkish artists able to
represent this historic moment?
«There are many very interesting Turkish
figures - such as director and artist
Kutluğ Ataman, for instance - who use art
to deal with social-political issues. They
face these themes with sharp finesse, they
are not blatantly “politicians” and they are
aware of how this nation is dealing with a
mixture of unique inputs. Turkey is in an
amazing geographical position to become
a global cultural center. Among female
artists, I think Nur Kocak is able to
represent this historic moment. She was
born in Istanbul and since the 1970s her
work has been focused on themes related
to gender, identity and to the relationship
between market and woman’s body. Once
again, a very sophisticated and subtle way
to create feminist art».
What museums would you suggest to
our readers? I mean the little-known
and less obvious museums.
«The Museo Calouste Gulbenkian, in
Lisbon, is one of the most beautiful
museums in the world boasting an
eclectic collection including the great
maestros of European painting, Greek
ancient art, Applied Arts and much
more. I would then suggest the Louisiana
Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen,
a sophisticated museum and a haven of
peace. Last but not least, even though it’s
not actually a museum, the Odawara Art
Foundation. Located just outside Tokyo,
it was founded by contemporary artist
Hiroshi Sugimoto. I think it’s the exact
synonymous with perfection».
Who’s your favorite Italian painter?
«I don’t want to be obvious and answer
Michelangelo or Leonardo… I’d say
Andrea Mantegna: I love the way he
paints flesh as if it were a sculpture, I
love his accuracy, his perfection. And
what about Piero della Francesca? His
delicate touch is magnificent. The list is
long and I could go on forever…».
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,
firmato dall‘artista spagnolo,
al MoMA grazie alla donazione
di Lillie P. Bliss.
Pablo Picasso. Les Demoiselles
d’Avignon. 1907. Oil on canvas.
The Museum of Modern Art, New
York. Acquired through the Lillie P.
ULISSE _ febbraio 2020 _