Please Come to the Show, Part II at MoMA

By Cory Healy on 7 August 2013
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Invitation to a Keith Haring slide talk, 1983

Invitation to a Keith Haring slide talk, 1983

Please Come to the Show, Part II (1980 – Now) recently opened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  It features invitations and event flyers from the 1980s to the present day, and includes gallery openings, concerts, store liquidations, and marches on college campuses.   An earlier exhibit covered the period from 1960 through 1980.

The invitations on display were printed on everything ranging from standard 8.5×11 copy paper to business cards; one even uses a pink paper plate. These artifacts capture the personal touch in advertising, rather than those streamlined through computer-generated graphics and e-mail.  Here, humanity is celebrated through the outreach of an individual to the world, using largely hand-crafted means.

The exhibit occupies seven glass cases scattered throughout the Edward Johnson Noble Education Center, and includes handwritten, drawn, and typewritten material.  Everything shown in the exhibition was contributed by members of the MoMA staff.  Indeed, each piece offers a window into the lives of the museum’s employees and their whereabouts earlier in life.

Examples include flyers and promotional materials for a boxing match in Times Square, a store relocation from 123 Delancey to 172 Delancey on July 16, 1980, and an art exhibit at a gallery in Zürich, Switzerland from March 31 to May 19, 2001.  One piece that caught my eye used a pink paper plate to advertise an Eco-Show Gala benefit at 244 East 13 Street on July 11, 1991.

Visitors will be surprised to find that a few iconic artists make cameo appearances in the exhibit, some of which pre-date their era of fame.  One example is a poster for a “Dance on the Lower East Side” flyer for St. Mark’s Church in 1983, created by Keith Haring.  Richard Prince also made a contribution by re-appropriating a signed photo of Courtney Love into an invitation for a gallery opening on May 28, 1998.

A hand-drawn advertisement on a postcard for a feminist march at Bard College stands out among the others that are festive and celebratory.  Its inclusion in the exhibit broadens the meaning of an invitation to include requests to take part in social justice.  Each of these flyers acts as a simple gesture of faith, calling upon any and all to take action without knowing who will respond in the end.

Please Come to the Show, Part II (1980 – now) runs from now until September 23.

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