Rörelse i konsten (Art in Motion)
May 16 - September 10, 1961
Niki de Saint Phalle seated in the installation of Rörelse i konsten at Moderna Museet in Stockholm, 1961
Bewogen Beweging, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, which later toured to Stockholm and Moderna Museet under the title Rörelse i konsten (Art in Motion), and finally Bevaegelse i Kunsten at Lousiana Museum for Moderne Kunst, Humlebaek.
Pontus Hultén, director of Moderna Museet in Stockholm, asked Billy Klüver to be the American Representative for Rörelse i konsten (Art in Motion) exhibition at the museum, an expanded version of an exhibition, Le Mouvement, that he had made at the Denise René gallery in Paris in 1955. Hultén worked closely with Willem Sandberg at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam on the exhibition, and Bewogen Beweging, (Art in Motion) opened first at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. An expanded version with more than 200 works by 80 artists opened in Stockholm on May 17, 1961. Outside the museum was Alexander Calder’s sculpture Four Seasons, which Hultén had built from the 1939 model that Calder gave him when he and Billy Klüver visited the artist in Roxbury, Connecticut, in the fall of 1959. For the the American contribution to the exhibition Klüver asked a number of artists to make works for the exhibition. He also included designs by Charles Eames and the drawings of Rube Goldberg, and arranged shipment of classic works of Marcel Duchamp, Naum Gabo and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, whose sculpture, Lichtrequisite, Hultén and he had found in a packing case in storage at the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard University.
To find works by American artists for the Art in Motion show, Klüver began to visit artists’ studios, sometimes together with the famous pair Henry Geldzahler and Dick Bellamy who knew every artist in New York. Climbing staircases to the artists’ lofts, where many lived illegally, they often had to shout for them to drop down keys to the door.
When Hultén first came to New York in 1959, Klüver had a car and took him around to visit artists. Hultén knew Sam Francis from Paris and they soon met his neighbor on 23rd Street, the painter Alfred Leslie, who had just made the film, Pull My Daisy with Robert Frank. Leslie’s enthusiasm helped spark Hulténs’ interest in contemporary American art as did Dorothy Miller’s exhibition Sixteen Americans at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Moderna Museet’s first exhibition devoted to contemporary American art opened on March 17, 1962. Hultén chose Alfred Leslie and three artists who had been in the Art in Motion show: Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Richard Stankiewicz. The show was accompanied by programs of independent films from the New American Cinema.
Hultén again put Klüver to work as Moderna Museet’s New York agent; and he collected and shipped films and works for the exhibition, becoming friendly with the shippers W.R. Keating and Budworth. As sometimes happens in these situations something went wrong at the last moment. Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase and Chocolate Grinder No. 2 came from The Philadelphia Museum of Art. They had to be picked up by the shipper on Friday the 28th of April in order to arrive at Pier 97 at North River in Brooklyn by 3 o'clock on the afternoon of May 1st, in time to be loaded onto the ship Gripsholm. The 26th of April, Klüver had sent a telegram to Hultén: "Cable Philadelphia confirming insurance total 50,000 dollars." It arrived without the first word "cable" and read "Philadelphia confirming insurance total 50,000 dollars." So no confirmation was sent from Stockholm. When this was discovered on Friday, Klüver ordered a phone call to Hultén which in those days took 3 hours; and only at 1:30 in the afternoon, could he tell the museum in Philadelphia that the paintings were insured. But an air raid exercise in Philadelphia that afternoon -- it was the week of the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba -- prevented the trucker from getting to the museum before it closed. The 5th of May the paintings were sent by air and on August 21st, Western Union paid $174.90 in compensation for the missing word: $161.70 to cover the air freight and $13.20 for the telephone call. Klüver encouraged Hultén to buy works by the young New York artists. The Art in Motion exhibition put Hultén and Moderna Museet on the art world map.
Installation view from Rörelse i konsten at Moderna Museet in Stockholm, 1961.
In the photo above, the sculpture to the left is the kinetic sculpture, The Apple by Richard Stankeiwicz. The middle painting is Robert Rauschenberg’s Black Market. Visitors were invited to move the art itself, by taking the object from one of four boxes in the suitcase attached to the painting and putting an object of their own in its place, and by writing their name on one of the four pads hanging on the painting. Rauschenberg made the painting to the right in Stockholm. At the gala opening, a lady pointed to the painting and shouted, “Ingemar Johansson [the boxer] could have done that painting!” To her horror, Rauschenberg ran over to the painting and wrote, “This is Johansson’s painting...” before she knocked his arm away. The writing is still there.
4 Amerikanare (4 Americans)
March 17 - May 6, 1962
Poster from the exhibition
When Pontus Hultén first came to New York in 1959, after attending the biennale in Sao Paulo, he and Klüver visited artist Sam Francis whom Hultén knew from Paris, and they soon met his neighbor on 23rd Street, the painter Alfred Leslie, who had just made the film, Pull My Daisy with Robert Frank. Leslie's enthusiasm helped spark his visitors interest in contemporary American art. Also at that time they saw the legendary show,16 Americans at the Museum of Modern Art.
In 1962, Hultén organized the first European exhibition of the new generation of American artists titled, 4 Americans and included four artists, all of whom had been in the Art in Motion exhibition: Jasper Johns, Alfred Leslie, Robert Rauschenberg, and Richard Stankiewicz. Klüver collected works from the artists and organized shipping them to Sweden.
Hultén continued to use Klüver as Moderna Museet’s New York agent, handling the shipping of works to Stockholm for its exhibitions. In addition, Klüver went to auctions at Sotheby’s and bid on works that the museum wanted to add to its collection, including a Henry Moore sculpture; and he negotiated the purchase of Salvador Dali's The Enigma of William Tell with Dali’s wife Gala. Klüver encouraged Hultén to buy works by the young New York artists, and several works were acquired in the early 1960s: Jasper Johns', Slow Field, Robert Rauschenberg’s Monogram, Richard Stankiewicz's, The Feet in 1963, and James Rosenquist's, I Love You with My Ford and Jim Dine's, Black Tools in a Landscape in 1964.
Amerikansk Pop-konst (American Pop Art)
February 29 - April 12, 1964
Roy Lichtenstein, 1964. Poster from the exhibition
The story of the Pop art exhibition at Moderna Museet began two years earlier when in early 1962 Billy Klüver met Audrey Sabol, Joan Kron and Acey Wolgin who were on the board of Arts Council of the Young Men’s/Young Women’s Hebrew Association (YM/YWHA); (The Jewish community's equivalent of the YMCA), and were planning to mount an exhibition of traditional American painting at the YM/YWHA in Philadelphia. Klüver proposed instead that they make an exhibition of the new generation of artists working in New York. They agreed, and Klüver helped to select the show from artists he knew in New York. Both Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg were part of this show along with younger artists like Claes Oldenburg, Jim Dine and the others. Art 1963: A New Vocabulary opened at the YM/YWHA in Philadelphia on October 25, 1962.
This was the second exhibition of this generation of artists. Walter Hopps’ exhibition The New Painting of Common Objects, had opened in September 1962 at the Pasadena Museum. Neither of the exhibitions used the word ‘Pop Art.’ Again in late 1962, Sidney Janis Gallery opened the first New York group show of these artists, calling it, The New Realists. But Lawrence Alloway, who had recently come to New York from London reviewed the exhibition and he called the work” Pop Art.” The name stuck.
Alice Denney, was director of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art, that showed contemporary art, and in 1962 had mounted a Franz Kline retrospective. During a physics convention in Washington, DC, Klüver visited the gallery, where she discussed future plans. Klüver immediately suggest they go to Philadelphia where the Art 1963 exhibition was still going on. When she saw the show, Denney picked up on the idea and together with Alan Solomon, of the Jewish Museum, organized the Popular Image Exhibition which ran from April 18 to June 2, 1963, at the Washington Gallery of Modern Art. In conjunction with the exhibition, she organized the “Pop Festival” a series of performances by dancers and composers from New York at a local at a skating rink.
Klüver made interviews with the artists in the exhibition and produced a 331/3 RPM LP record of these interviews which were the first taped interviews made with these artists. Andy Warhol made a silkscreen for the record cover. Klüver helped him by laying out more than 100 record covers on the floor in Warhol’s studio, and also helped spray the fronts of each record cover with Day-Glo colors after which Warhol silkscreened the text, "Giant Size 1.57."
While Billy Klüver was working with Alice Denney on the Popular Image show in Washington, DC, he proposed to Pontus Hultén to organize an American Pop Art show at Moderna Museet. Klüver worked with him to assemble the show that included, Jim Dine, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, George Segal, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselmann. Gallery owner Ileana Sonnabend in Paris was particularly helpful in procuring works that were already in European collections. Hultén also organized a program of American independent films to be shown during the exhibition.
The exhibition, Amerikansk Pop-konst opened on February 26, 1964. Roy Lichtenstein made the poster for the show. Klüver was somewhat dismayed at the sub-title of the name of the exhibition on the poster: 106 forms of love and despair. He felt it was a European misunderstanding of American culture and that these works had nothing to do with despair. The exhibition did raise a lot of consternation in Swedish academic art circles. Klüver remembered vigorously arguing in front of the television camera in favor of Oldenburg's Pies, as he also did in an article, Pastry as Art, that he wrote for a Swedish magazine.