When Kellie Jones’s exhibition Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980 landed at MoMA PS1 in the fall of 2012, after having first been staged at the Hammer Museum in LA, it opened some eyes. Until then, those of us who are not much in touch with the Southern California scene (and not black) had some basic parameters for the art of that place — from the “abstract classicists,” of whom John McLaughlin became the most renowned; the “finish fetish” of John McCracken and company; “light and space” à la Robert Irwin; and on through the cool Pop of Ed Ruscha; the transgressive performance art of Chris Burden; the wry conceptualism of John Baldessari; Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley’s wallowing in abjection: this was what had made the national and international scene — and no black artists were on the bill. A good example of how this played out in practice might be the 1997-98 traveling exhibition Sunshine and Noir: Art in L.A. 1960-1997, which started its tour at the Louisiana Museum in Denmark and ended it back home at the Hammer. The only “noir” on its checklist of some fifty artists was David Hammons.
MoMA PS1 is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit contemporary art institutions in the United States. An exhibition space rather than a collecting institution, MoMA PS1 devotes its energy and resources to displaying the most experimental art in the world. A catalyst and an advocate for new ideas, discourses, and trends in contemporary art, MoMA PS1 actively pursues emerging artists, new genres, and adventurous new work by recognized artists in an effort to support innovation in contemporary art. MoMA PS1 achieves this mission by presenting its diverse program to a broad audience in a unique and welcoming environment in which visitors can discover and explore the work of contemporary artists. Exhibitions at MoMA PS1 include artists’ retrospectives, site-specific installations, historical surveys, arts from across the United States and the world, and a full schedule of music and performance programming. (MoMA PS1).