Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented at The Museum of Modern Art, December 13, 2020 – April 10, 2021

Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented, a major exhibition that presents the political engagement, fearless and groundbreaking visual experimentation, and utopian aspirations of artists in the early 20th century. On view in The Robert B. Menschel Galleries, Engineer, Agitator, Constructor showcases the activities of historical avant-gardes, including galvanizing works of Dada, Bauhaus, De Stijl, Futurism, and Russian Constructivism, and highlights such figures as Aleksandr Rodchenko, Lyubov Popova, John Heartfield, and Hannah Höch. Drawn from the Museum’s outstanding holdings from this period, the exhibition marks a recent acquisition of more than 300 works from the Merrill C. Berman Collection, one of the most significant collections of early 20th-century works on paper in private hands.” — The Museum of Modern Art

“The exhibition asks: during and in the wake of war and revolution, does the artist have a right to exist? If so, on what basis? And in what form? These questions—central to the theoretical debates of the era—will serve as the exhibition’s focus,” says Hauptman. “Just as gripping is the possibility of linking the radical experimentation of the early 20th century with contemporary art. The strategies, practices, and languages of artists involved in Constructivism, Dada, and Futurism, for example, are still reverberating today, and the exhibition will provoke vigorous and challenging conversations across time.”

John (born Helmut Herzfelde) Heartfield (German, 1891–1968). The Hand Has Five Fingers (5 Finger hat die Hand) (Campaign poster for German Communist Party). 1928. Lithograph. Printer: Peuvag-Druckerei, Berlin. 38 1/2 × 29 1/4′′ (97.8 × 74.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Merrill C. Berman Collection
Hannah Höch (German, 1889–1978). Untitled (Dada). c. 1922. Cut-and-pasted printed and colored paper on board. 9 3/4 × 13′′ (24.8 × 33 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Merrill C. Berman Collection
Herbert Bayer (American, born Austria, 1900–1985). Exhibition stand for electrical company. 1924. Gouache, ink, pencil, and cut-and-pasted printed paper on board. 26 3/8 × 14 15/16′′ (67 × 38 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Merrill C. Berman Collection
Max Burchartz (German, 1887–1961). Untitled (red square). c. 1928. Cut-and-pasted printed and painted paper on board. 19 11/16 × 13 9/16′′ (50 × 34.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Merrill C. Berman Collection
Valentina Kulagina (Russian, 1902–1987). Maquette for We Are Building (Stroim). 1929. Cut-and-pasted printed and painted paper, sandpaper, gouache, and pencil on paper. 22 5/8 × 14 1/4′′ (57.5 × 36.2 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Merrill C. Berman Collection
Liubov Popova (Russian, 1889–1924). Production Clothing for Actor No. 7 (Prozodezhda aktera No. 7). 1922 (inscribed 1921). Gouache, cut-and-pasted colored paper, ink, and pencil on paper. 12 15/16 × 9 1/8″ (32.8 × 23.1 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Merrill C. Berman Collection

Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented is organized by Jodi Hauptman, Senior Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, MoMA, and Adrian Sudhalter, Consulting Curator, with Jane Cavalier, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints, MoMA.

Images courtesy The Museum of Modern Art.