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Now at the Met

Sacrifice, Fealty, and a Sculptor's Signature on a Maya Relief

James Doyle, Assistant Curator, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2015

One of the Maya masterworks at The Metropolitan Museum of Art is an eighth-century relief with enthroned ruler, likely a fragment of the carved lintel of a doorway from the site of La Pasadita in northwestern Guatemala (fig. 1). La Pasadita was visited in the 1970s by renowned explorer and monument recorder Ian Graham, but subsequently became dangerous for scholarly visits because of border conflicts during the country's decades-long civil conflict. Land mines and security problems prevented archaeological work until 1998, when Charles Golden and colleagues performed reconnaissance in the area. Even today, the site lies within a troubled zone suffering the effects of narcotrafficking and illegal settlements within the national parks in the Usumacinta River drainage.

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Celebrating Nauruz with The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp is a tenth-century epic by the Persian poet Firdausi, chronicling Iran's mythical history before the founding of Islam. The Metropolitan Museum of Art's publication is a facsimile of the most lavishly illustrated version of the text, produced for the Safavid Shah Tahmasp, who ruled Iran from 1524 to 1576.

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Now on View: Drawings by Bill Traylor, Pioneer of Outsider Art, in The American Wing

Sylvia Yount, Lawrence A. Fleischman Curator in Charge of The American Wing

Posted: Friday, March 13, 2015

"[Traylor] was beautiful to see—so right with himself and at peace—as the rich imagery of his long life welled up into his drawings and paintings."

—Charles Shannon, 1985

A few weeks ago in gallery 749—where we've been featuring a range of nineteenth-century American folk art—we installed eight drawings from the late 1930s by the acclaimed pioneer of so-called outsider art, Bill Traylor (1853/54–1949). This is the first time in twenty years that these works have been seen at the Met—and the very first in The American Wing.

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Evoking the Divine: Mental Purification Using a Tibetan Tsakali Mandala

Kurt Behrendt, Associate Curator, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Friday, March 13, 2015

Tsakali cards were used by a practitioner, usually a monk or nun, under the guidance of a teacher to evoke a Buddhist deity. As these teachers traveled from one monastery to the next, using sets of portable tsakali cards was an efficient way of presenting the vast pantheon of Buddhist gods.

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Dana Claxton to Perform Original Piece, Fringed, at the Met

Amanda Malcolm, Intern, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

Posted: Thursday, March 12, 2015

This Sunday, March 15, filmmaker, photographer, and performance artist Dana Claxton will present an original piece entitled Fringed, which she created specifically for the Metropolitan Museum in honor of the exhibition The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky. Claxton's art, which is also represented in the exhibition, expresses reverence for her Lakota heritage and challenges the viewer to engage with Native American identities in contemporary society.

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Painting Beauty: A Recent Acquisition

Keith Christiansen, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman, Department of European Paintings

Posted: Thursday, March 12, 2015

"Almost invariably," writes Stendahl in the Italian Chronicles, "foreigners coming to Rome ask to be taken, at the outset of their tour of inspection, to the Barberini gallery; they are attracted, the women especially, by the portraits of Beatrice Cenci and her stepmother." Beatrice, of course, not only had possessed beauty, but she had a story, having been publicly executed for the murder of her cruel, molesting father.

What was thought to be her portrait (above) was painted by the "Divine Guido Reni" (1575–1642). Reni was a great artist, but the picture Stendahl admired was not, in fact, by him and certainly cannot hold a candle to the portrait of an unknown beauty recently given to the Metropolitan Museum and now hanging—following its cleaning and reframing—in gallery 623.

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The Plains Indians Exhibition: A Milestone for the Met

Judith Ostrowitz, Research Associate, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

Posted: Monday, March 9, 2015

Today, The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky, a ground-breaking exhibition of Native American art, opens to the public at the Metropolitan Museum. Although indigenous art from North America has been presented at the Museum before, both in the permanent galleries in the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing and in smaller-scale temporary exhibitions, this project represents a certain milestone in the Museum's history. It focuses on a single region and includes more than 150 works of art that range from ancient stone sculptures made before European contact through painted buffalo hides and items of prestigious regalia to more recent works on paper, paintings, photographs, and a contemporary video installation piece. The scope of this exhibition is extremely ambitious, and I am delighted to have been a part of this project as the organizer for the venue here in New York.

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L'Estampe Originale: A Rare Print Portfolio Now Online

Britany Salsbury, Former Research Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints; and Lisa Conte, Assistant Conservator, Department of Paper Conservation

Posted: Friday, March 6, 2015

During its two-year print run, the print portfolio L'Estampe Originale (1893–95) brought together the most sophisticated developments in printmaking by a range of vanguard artists. The Met's unique, complete edition of the prints was recently digitized and is now available for consultation online.

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The Conservation of the Jabach Portrait: Starting the Retouching

Michael Gallagher, Sherman Fairchild Conservator in Charge, Department of Paintings Conservation

Posted: Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Michael Gallagher uses gouache paint to retouch losses in the Jabach portrait, which has been undergoing conservation for the past eight months.

With the exception of the inevitable damage caused by the turning over of the top of the canvas to attach it to a smaller stretcher (see my September 24, 2014, post about this aspect of the painting's history), the great Jabach family portrait is in exceptional condition. Nevertheless, there are several small losses and scrapes that are typical for a painting of this age and size and which hung in domestic interiors—albeit quite grand ones—for centuries. So the next step is to retouch these areas.

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The Gilded Road: A Journey in Tweets

James Doyle, Assistant Curator, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

Posted: Monday, March 2, 2015

I recently embarked on a research trip that revealed new insights into the cultural contexts of some of the Met's most beloved objects made of gold, silver, and copper from Central and South America. The ancient artists that lived in present-day Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru produced incredible metal masterpieces now found in national, public, and private collections around the world. Though the specific focus of my trip was to study metallurgical traditions, visits to archaeological sites and new museums held many surprises pertaining to the arts of architecture, textiles, pottery, and even woodworking. Throughout the trip, I documented our team's visits to each place on Twitter. Here is a summary of the three-week journey from Panama to Peru, illustrated with a selection of the photos I tweeted.

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About this Blog

Now at the Met offers in-depth articles and multimedia features about the Museum's current exhibitions, events, research, announcements, behind-the-scenes activities, and more.