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MoMA’s “Multiplex”

the bad germansSo I ditched out of “work” early yesterday for MoMA, because it was the last day of the Martin Puryear show. (This is why everyone everywhere should quit his job!) Elsewhere in the museum—on view through July—is a sprawling collection show called “Multiplex,” which is apparently about art since 1970 and, according to the opaque curator’s text, the flowering of, um, a “complicated artistic terrain.” (Yeah. Well, it’s been almost 40 years, go figure.) There are three groupings of work: abstraction, mutability, and provocation. (I dunno either!) There’s a Gursky that’s really one of the worst, an incredible Tacita Dean painted photograph, and a Julie Mehretu painting that is just wowza. (Seriously, you should go see that one.) Also, I’d never seen this Clemens von Wedemeyer video “Big Business,” a two-channel wingding that’s technically a remake of a Laurel and Hardy film, but which, more importantly, stars two really hot German guys destroying a house. It is all kinds of awesome! I wanted to watch it twice more! But that (and some other nice items) doesn’t mean this show isn’t a bizarro mess. There’s a whole lotta wall text to make their gussied up case. And the tiny end section, “provocation,” contains some of the least provocative contemporary art going. (There’s a mild Philip Guston painting from 1972! Huh?) Is it that MoMA’s collection just doesn’t have work down in the basement that could deliver some incitement?