Kick Ass: Vik Muniz’s ‘Rebus’ at MoMA.

The End, 1991, by Edward Ruscha at MoMA. (Photos by C-M.)

You know a show has to be good when it opens up with a video of a Rube Goldberg machine. And that is exactly what kicks off Vik Muniz‘s “Artist’s Choice” show at MoMA, one of the more deft and entertaining exhibits I’ve seen in a while. Avoiding complicated wall texts and impenetrable catalogue essays, Muniz simply and cleverly tells a story by using the images at his disposal — works from MoMA’s permanent collection — linking one to the next through visual or thematic similarity. Bubble shapes lead to other bubble shapes lead to spheres lead to rocks lead to scissors. It’s as if he’s turned the gallery into one giant Rube Goldberg machine and the viewer is the little metal pinball that gets prodded from one piece to the next.

In one stretch of gallery, for example, a vintage New York City subway map is followed by a photo of a man on a subway by Philip-Lorca diCorcia. The yellow in the photo’s subway seats is then echoed in a yellow canvas by Ellsworth Kelly, which is followed by a sculpture of an egg yolk by Kiki Smith, which is linked to an egg timer by a ’60s industrial designer from Italy… The show, titled Rebus (a visual riddle), manages to ultimately (and seamlessly) connect a stack of Post-It notes to a felt suit by Joseph Beuys. It is totally Wallace & Gromit, in the best of ways.

I snapped a few photos of the exhibit and have arranged them here to create my own rebus. I call it The Artist’s Last Thoughts.

The show is up through February 23rd. Do not miss.

Click on images to supersize. More after the jump.

Filzanzug (Felt Suit), 1970 by Joseph Beuys.

Untitled, 1965 by Tom Friedman.

Goya Series: And, 1997, by John Baldessari.

Steel balls designed by S.K.F. Industries, before 1934.

Mirror #10, 1970 by Roy Lichtenstein.

Brillo Box (Soap Pads), 1964 by Andy Warhol.

New Shelton Wet/Dry Doubledecker, 1981 by Jeff Koons.

I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art, 1971 by John Baldessari.

Prison Window, 1992 by Robert Gober.

E-X-I-T, 2004 by Mark Wamble, Dawn Finley and Ben Thorne of Interloop Architecture.

See Muniz’s very funny TED presentation here.


  1. San-suzie

    I love Vik Muniz anyway and this just confirms it. Wow, Pippilotti and Vik’s show at the same time at MoMA. What the hell am I doing in Rome? How long is the Vik show up?

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