Dan Phiffer Dan Phiffer builds websites, makes art, and teaches in NYC

Rising Currents at

We recently launched a sub-site for the Rising Currents exhibition at MoMA:

MoMA and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center joined forces to address one of the most urgent challenges facing the nation’s largest city: sea-level rise resulting from global climate change. Though the national debate on infrastructure is currently focused on “shovel-ready” projects that will stimulate the economy, we now have an important opportunity to foster new research and fresh thinking about the use of New York City’s harbor and coastline.

These smaller exhibitions don’t usually get their own sub-sites, but it was fairly easy to customize a category view within the existing MoMA blog. A slightly-altered version of the site is also available on kiosks in the exhibition space.


Ulay and Abramović

This photo from the Abramović opening is kind of touching. Her performance in the MoMA atrium is not supposed to include any interaction with those who sit across from her.

The caption from the Facebook album reads:

Ulay, Marina Abramović’s partner from 1975-1988, sits with her during her performance. This was the first time they “performed” together since The Great Wall Walk (1988), when they each walked over 1,200 miles (2,000 km) along the Great Wall of China starting at opposite ends and meeting in the middle to say their goodbye.

Somebody in the comments asks the obvious: “I thought there was to be no interaction with the art.” To which the moderator responds: “Correct, no interaction, but this was her partner in life and art for 12 years who she has had almost no contact with since 1988…”

Facebook link

George Lois’s Esquire

George Lois on the first cover he art directed for Esquire:

Hayes mentioned that we were going to have a spread of Floyd Patterson, the boxing champion of the world, and Sonny Liston, the challenger, and Patterson was an 8–1 favorite. I knew right away what I was going to do, because I knew that Liston was going to kill him. So I called the photographer, and I said, “We’re going to get a guy with the same body as Patterson, we’re going to lay him flat on the ring, and we’re going to show him killed, knocked out by Liston. Leave him for dead.” I wanted to show a metaphor for boxing — if you’re a loser, you’re left for dead, which is also a metaphor for life. So we get the shot and I sent it to Hayes.

“George, I never saw a cover like this in my life! You’re calling the fight — suppose you’re wrong? Everybody says you’re wrong.” I told him we had a 50/50 chance of it working, but if it does, it shows we have balls. It hit the newsstand a week before the fight, and it was roundly laughed at in the sports crowd. But a week later, of course Liston kills Patterson, just like I thought. And Esquire got tons of publicity and the best sales since the start of the magazine. And Harold said to me, “You gotta keep doing my covers.”

He went on to create 92 iconic covers during the 1960s that were exhibited at MoMA and added to the permanent collection. Unfortunately only five of the covers have their image rights cleared to display online. Not many people realize that even if a work is “owned” by the museum, having the right to display it online is another matter. This is an issue the Brooklyn Museum has addressed nicely on their blog. This is why photography is usually not allowed in museums, except within the older permanent collections.

Link via Jason Kottke

The Artist Is

Marina Abramović is having a retrospective here at MoMA. It’s the first time a performance artist has had such a show, which will include reenactments of her pieces by other performers. The main event is a new endurance piece:

Marina Abramović will perform in the Atrium at MoMA throughout the duration of the exhibition, starting before the Museum opens each day and continuing until after it closes.

The New Yorker has an article (subscriber-only) on the exhibition that I haven’t read yet. There’s also a podcast interview with Judith Thurman, who wrote the article, that provides some useful context.

Link is one year old (or fifteen)

Oh man, I can’t believe it’s been a whole year!

It was one year ago tomorrow that we launched the latest redesign of (March 6 is a day that will be forever ingrained in the Digital Media team’s memory!) But MoMA has had an online presence for fifteen years now, since 1995, when an exhibition site for the design show Mutant Materials in Contemporary Design was developed. The following year, the Museum’s website,, officially launched, and we’ve been doing exhibition feature sites ever since.

One year ago I was working remotely from Groningen, NL where Ellie was doing a study abroad program. The weeks leading up to launch day were pretty brutal, probably my most intense working process since college. It seems so absurd, in retrospect, that most of it went down for me in that sleepy Dutch college town. Happy birthday! It was worth it.