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MoMA Pays Homage to Older Artists

Exhibit proves creativity can peak at any age

American artist Georgia O'Keeffe

Tony Vaccaro/Getty Images

Georgia O'Keeffe, who kept producing art into her nineties, is one of the artists represented in a new MOMA exhibit that runs through the end of 2018.

The Museum of Modern Art has launched a yearlong installation titled “The Long Run” that celebrates the long careers of older artists. The exhibition includes 130 works of art on the museum’s fourth floor, all of which have been created since 1970. What makes the display so unusual is that every item in the collection was made by an artist who was at least age 45 — and typically a lot older — at the time, reports the New York Times.

As the newspaper notes, the presentation “forsakes the myth of Modernism that the Modern is identified with — of art as ceaseless progress fomented almost entirely by the innovations of ambitious young (white) men.” Instead, it focuses on artists — both famous and not — that prove creativity can also be an older person’s game.

Among the show’s 15 galleries, the oldest artist represented is Georgia O’Keeffe, whose piece titled “From a Day with Juan II” was created in 1977, when she was 90.

According to MoMA’s website, all the artists in the exhibition are “united by a ceaseless desire to make meaningful work, year after year, across decades.” They include Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgeois, Melvin Edwards, Gego, Philip Guston, Joan Jonas, Helen Levitt and many others.

Beyond paying homage to older artists, there are other reasons to tour the exhibit. When it comes to art, a recent study published by the National Endowment for the Arts shows that those over age 55 who attended or participated in cultural and artistic events reported better mental and physical health than those who did not.

The study, titled “Staying Engaged: Health Patterns of Older Americans Who Participate in the Arts,” studied 15 years of health data from 1,498 older adults. Those who created or attended art events reported lower rates of hypertension and other health benefits. Cognitive-functioning scores of those who both created and attended art events were sevenfold higher than for adults who did neither.

You can see “The Long Run” on display at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan through Nov. 4, 2018. For more information, go to moma.org.

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