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art barr

New York is arguably the premier city for American art; its variety of eclectic galleries always provides something for the art lover, whether you're a fan of impressionism or post-modern sculpture. Some of New York's most famous galleries are the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art and, perhaps most famously, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).

MOMA first opened its doors in 1929 and has been the toast of the modern art world ever since. The first New York gallery to dedicate itself solely to modern art - though it was closely followed by the opening of the Guggenheim in 1936 - MOMA's first director, Alfred H. Barr Jr. soon realised the gallery's potential as an outlet for new forms of modernist art. Barr commented:

"This museum is a torpedo moving through time, its head the ever-advancing present, its tail the ever-receding past of 50 to 100 years ago."

Nearly 80 years on this still seems to be a very accurate summary of MOMA's ambitions and aims. Its current collection houses some of the art world's most infamous pieces, including works by iconic American painters Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol, as well as those by celebrated international artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo. Furthermore, its photography collection is one of the most important in the world hosting works by important photographers like Cindy Sherman and Andreas Gursky.

While the stature of its art collection is staggering, one of the main reasons that MOMA has remained so important today is its intriguing architectural landscape. Since 1929, the museum has shifted its location four times - three of those in its first year - before moving to its present permanent home between 5th and 6th Avenue. Between 2002 and 2004, MOMA was closed for renovation, while its building was designed and re-imagined by Yoshio Taniguchi. Taniguchi is the celebrated Japanese architect, also responsible for Tokyo's Nagano Prefectural Museum and the Gallery of Horyuji Treasures at the Tokyo National Museum.

When MOMA re-opened in November 2004, Taniguchi's redesign was initially very controversial; however, it has since been lauded as one of New York's most interesting landmarks and upheld as a bold example of contemporary architecture, making MOMA in itself a piece of art that visitors can enjoy. MOMA is certainly an essential point to visit when you're on a trip to New York; its optimum location means that visitors will find plenty of great hotels near the gallery, such as the luxury Waldorf Astoria, through to other slightly less lavish accomodation options for the budget conscious. So make sure you visit MOMA on your next trip to New York - your understanding of the American and international modern art world will never be the same again.

The Top Ten Moves of Art Barr

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