Posted: Friday, December 27, 2013
Posted: Thursday, December 26, 2013
What does it take to install an exhibition of contemporary Chinese art?
The diversity in scale, media, and format of the seventy-some pieces in Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China have tested the talents and ingenuity of the Museum's incredibly resourceful staff. After a number of advance planning meetings, our installation began in earnest on October 30 in the Early Chinese Buddhist Sculpture Gallery (206)—just off the Great Hall Balcony. There, we planned to display three 16 1/2-foot-tall hanging scrolls from Qiu Zhijie's 30 Letters to Qiu Jiawa, (2009) and the five triptychs of Yang Jiechang's Crying Landscapes (2002). Together, these works would announce to visitors to the Asian Wing that they were entering the world of contemporary China, where old and new often come together.
Posted: Monday, December 23, 2013
With less than a month left to see the exhibition Balthus: Cats and Girls—Paintings and Provocations at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I sat down with Sabine Rewald—Jacques and Natasha Gelman Curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, and author of the accompanying exhibition catalogue—to discuss her many years of fascination with Balthus, as well as her latest research that has brought such a renewed richness to the artist's subjects.
Posted: Friday, December 20, 2013
Since the establishment of the Print Department in 1916 there has been a clear mission to gather all types of printed material ranging from Rembrandt's magnificent and widely collected etchings to the more ephemeral, which includes, among many others things, American and European trade and calling cards, bookplates, illustrated catalogues, and even greeting cards.
Posted: Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Perhaps you have attended one of Spectrum's many concerts, panel discussions, trivia nights, or the annual Oktoberfest at The Cloisters museum and gardens. Now the group would like to bring you closer to the Met and introduce some of the staff members that make the Museum such a special place. This post is the first in our "Spectrum Spotlight" series, which will introduce some of the Met's rising stars on the curatorial staff. Look for more installments throughout the year, and, of course, please attend Spectrum events!
Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a comparison is worth at least two thousand.
The exhibition Artists and Amateurs, Etching in Eighteenth-Century France (on view through January 5) offers many thought-provoking pairings illuminating aspects of artistic process and individual style. An etching, which is printed from ink held in sunken lines on a copper plate, can be reworked between printings, resulting in distinct states. Such is the case with a print depicting soldiers trudging through a bleak landscape, off to join their regiment. An extremely rare first state is etched by the hand of Antoine Watteau, renowned painter of fêtes galantes. His delicate sinuous line imbues his figures with a grace more balletic than warlike.
Posted: Monday, December 2, 2013
Posted: Friday, November 15, 2013
Washington Heights—the neighborhood in northern Manhattan that houses The Cloisters museum and gardens—is built upon a series of bluffs and cliffs. Concrete staircases and creaky subway elevators connect different sections of the neighborhood, and buildings stand tall on stilts driven deep into Manhattan schist. From a distance, blocks of apartment buildings appear like castellated European villages. However, despite its once-impenetrable terrain, or maybe because of it, Washington Heights is a place where some of the wildest and most romantic medieval-architecture fantasies in New York City have been realized for over 150 years.
Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mike Hearn—the Met's Douglas Dillon Curator in Charge of the Department of Asian Art—about his work in authoring the catalogue accompanying the upcoming exhibition Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China, his inspiration for incorporating modern works into his department, and the role of the Chinese artist in today's art world.
Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013
On Friday, September 20, the fall season of Artists on Artworks began as visitors gathered in the Vélez Blanco Patio to meet artist Lisa Corinne Davis, who led a tour of the galleries and an hour-long discussion of a few paintings that she had personally selected. During the tour, Davis shared her perspective as a painter, talking about the choices that artists make as they are creating a new work—including what they choose to include and not include in terms of both subject and composition.
Posted: Friday, October 18, 2013
One hundred years ago this weekend, on October 20, 1913, Robert W. de Forest was unanimously elected the fifth president of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. De Forest had been involved with the Museum since its inception in 1870 and had served on its Board of Trustees since 1889, first as a Trustee and later as its secretary and vice president.
Posted: Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Janet Cardiff's The Forty Part Motet, currently on view through December 8, boasts the distinction of being the first exhibition of contemporary art in the seventy-five-year history of The Cloisters museum and gardens. A sound installation consisting of forty speakers mounted on tall stands and arranged in a large oval, Cardiff's work seems to have found its ideal home in the Fuentidueña Chapel—dominated by the monumental twelfth-century apse brought to The Cloisters from the church of San Martín in Fuentidueña, Spain.
Posted: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
This year's Artist in Residence program brings Alarm Will Sound, one of the most creative ensembles working today, to the Met. Just beyond the cutting edge of music, dance, and theater, this hugely respected and highly accomplished group of performer-composers turns its collective imagination for one year to the Met's permanent collection and galleries.
Posted: Friday, October 4, 2013
We just posted my episode, entitled Breakthrough, as part of 82nd & Fifth, the award-winning web series that has introduced our audience and our curators to a whole new way of looking at works of art: one object, one curator, two minutes at a time. I chose one of my favorite masterpieces—a Bernard van Orley tapestry of The Last Supper from 1524—and was amazed by the stunning details that Met photographer Peter Zeray was able to capture. This is the 75th of this 100-episode project, and I hope you take some time to enjoy them all.
Posted: Wednesday, October 2, 2013
In celebration of the New European Paintings Galleries, 1250–1800, the Museum hosted two special evenings of concerts on September 17 and 18. Music and art came together to illuminate the time period represented by the galleries, creating a resonant cultural experience.
Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
The situation in Syria is both grave and deeply troubling. In the midst of such striking human suffering, all other concerns can easily get lost in the shadows. But we must believe that there will be a time when peace returns to Syria, and when that moment arrives, it would be tragic to find that most of the country's heritage had been lost.
Posted: Monday, September 23, 2013
MetPublications is a portal to the Museum's comprehensive book and online publishing program from 1964 to the present, offering free content and information from an encyclopedic collection of publications—including exhibition catalogues, collection catalogues, Museum guides, and educational materials. And now, with the addition of two hundred thirty-five issues of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin spanning the past fifty years, MetPublications currently boasts close to nine hundred titles.
Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Earlier this year, the Met became the first art museum to ever receive a TEDx license to hold a conference in the style of the globally known TED Talks. We chose the (broadly interpreted) theme of Icons and started to plan right away...
Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
As an art historian, my goal is to offer information and insight. As a teacher, I hope to encourage people to discuss, discover, and explore. Where is the balance between these things in museum teaching and interpretation? When and how is information meaningful? How do we help visitors look closely and relate to what they see? These are some of the questions that guided me during my Kress Interpretive Fellowship at the Met this past year. My main project was a thematic, digital publication focusing on teaching adults in the European Paintings collection. The exciting final result is Looking to Connect with European Paintings: Visual Approaches for Teaching in the Galleries—it has just been released and is available as a free download (PDF) within MetPublications.
Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Although theatrical plays had been presented at the original Cloisters museum at 699 Fort Washington Avenue until its closing in February 1936, it was not until the performance of The Miracle of Theophilus at The Cloisters' current home in January 1942 that a medieval drama was produced for the first time. Envisioned and organized by the curatorial staff, with a text translated from the original French into English by Curator James Rorimer—later director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art—and costumes designed by Associate Curator Margaret Freeman, the thirteenth-century play was enjoyed by a group of Museum members on the Feast of the Epiphany. Thus began a tradition of medieval theatrical performances at The Cloisters.
Posted: Friday, August 2, 2013
From 1951 to 1957, The Cloisters hosted annual festivals for children of Members. Each of the seven festivals—held in the courtyard and given vibrantly titled themes such as "Round Table Capers" (1954) and "When Knights were Bold" (1955)—was an extravagant affair organized by the staff of the Met's Junior Museum, the precursor to what is now the Education Department. Children enjoyed puppet shows, games, donkey rides, and even trained bears.
Posted: Monday, July 29, 2013
I am Cyrus, king of the universe, the great king, the powerful king, king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters of the world.
—The Cyrus Cylinder (Line 20)
Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2013
Today we announced a new program aimed at connecting more directly with the global museum community. The Met has been an international institution since its founding; it was established in 1870 not as a museum of American art but as an encyclopedic collection—with the goal of including works of art from around the world. Since then we've collaborated with nations and institutions across the globe, through exhibitions, excavations, training, and all types of scholarly exchange.
Posted: Wednesday, July 24, 2013
The Museum's new Guide highlights special works from each of our seventeen curatorial departments. Coming in at four hundred fifty-six pages and featuring almost six hundred works of art, it is the first new Guide to be published about the Museum in twenty-nine years. While reviewing the new publication, I discovered a few fun facts about the works of art from around the globe and across the centuries featured in its pages.
Posted: Monday, July 22, 2013
For the past seventy-five years, The Cloisters has provided visitors with more than just a chance to view an exceptional collection of medieval art and architecture. In tourist guides and travel reviews, a trip to The Cloisters is commonly described as a way to be transported to the Middle Ages or—for locals seeking a "staycation"—a chance to get out of New York without leaving the city. The powerful effect of the place has clearly been noticed by screenwriters, novelists, and even comicbook authors, who have set a fair number of fictional works here over the years.
Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Toward the end of the first century a.d. Jerusalem lay in ruins, the second temple built by Herod the Great (74/73–4 b.c.) destroyed and ransacked by the Roman army. Meanwhile, in Babylon, scribes continued to copy ancient texts, inscribing some of them on cuneiform tablets made of clay. After the last cuneiform scribe passed to his fate, no one remained who could read or write documents in Babylonian, Assyrian, or Sumerian. In 1893, pioneer archaeologists and explorers digging in Iraq began to uncover vast archives of cuneiform tablets that had been buried for two thousand years. Today, philologists, archaeologists, and historians are able to combine narratives previously known only from the Bible with information gleaned from thousands of historic, literary, religious, and scientific texts, illuminating the world of Nebuchadnezzar, Sennacherib, and Cyrus. The Cyrus Cylinder, now on view at the Met, helps us understand the peoples and policies of the ancient Near East.
Posted: Tuesday, July 2, 2013
I'm back in New York, and I've had a chance to reflect on my first Travel with the Met experience. The trip was truly unforgettable, thanks in part to the hospitality and humor of our Russian hosts and the stoic pride they take in their country.
Posted: Monday, July 1, 2013
Now on view (through September 8), the exhibition Living in Style brings together drawings, prints, books, and pieces of furniture from the Museum's collections to illustrate five centuries of interior design, from the Renaissance period through the 1960s. Following a chronological path of development, the show traces changes and continuities in the approach to materials, shapes, colors, and decorations as displayed by the works on paper.
Posted: Friday, June 28, 2013
"Creating the Cloisters," the spring issue of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin written by curator Timothy B. Husband, is an engaging and nuanced narrative of the early history of The Cloisters. As a complement to that narrative, I'd like to review the more recent gallery renovations and reinstallations that have been undertaken, all guided by the principle of maintaining the integrity of the original architectural vision of The Cloisters.
Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013
Our local guide explained that the first settlers to the Kizhi Island area in the sixteenth century practiced two religions simultaneously: Russian Orthodox Christianity and pre-Christian pagan mysticism.
Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
As part of the installation of the New European Paintings Galleries last month, all of the wall labels were rewritten to reflect recent research. Each time I walked into the Rembrandt gallery (Gallery 637) during the installation, I wondered if I was seeing an art project or merely temporary storage for our new label holders.
Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Here the Volga River meets the Kotorosl River as seen from the bluffs of Yaroslavl, a picturesque city with a population of 640,000. Decorative plantings in the shape of a bear, the city's emblem, commemorate the 1,003rd anniversary of Yaroslav.
Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
The Cyrus Cylinder, currently on display in the exhibition The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: Charting a New Empire (June 20–August 4, 2013), is a document of unique historical significance. It records the Persian king Cyrus' conquest of the city of Babylon in 539 b.c., and his proclamation that cults and temples should be restored, their personnel allowed to return from Babylon to their home cities.
Posted: Friday, June 21, 2013
Ninety-five years ago the halls of The Metropolitan Museum of Art resounded with the sounds of music, as the first public concert was held within the Museum's galleries.
Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013
In 1776, while America was starting a revolution, the Russians were building the Bolshoi Theater.
Posted: Monday, June 17, 2013
Since its discovery on the Quirinal Hill of Rome in 1885 near the ancient Baths of Constantine, the statue Boxer at Rest—currently on view at the Met—has astonished and delighted visitors to the Museo Nazionale Romano as a captivating masterpiece of ancient bronze sculpture.
Posted: Monday, June 17, 2013
I'm currently traveling as a Museum representative on a Travel with the Met cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg. One of our first stops in Moscow was Saint Basil's Cathedral. Legend has it that Ivan the Terrible ensured that nothing quite like it could be built again . . . by taking out the eyes of the chief architect.
Posted: Monday, June 10, 2013
Before you can put a Gothic altarpiece together, you first have to know how to take it apart. This is Giovanni di Paolo's polyptych from a church in Cortona, Italy, painted in 1454, en route to its permanent installation in Gallery 626 within the New European Paintings Galleries.
Posted: Friday, June 7, 2013
One of the first projects we undertook upon establishing the Thomas J. Watson Library's digitization initiative a few years ago was a collaboration with the Department of Photographs and its Joyce F. Menschel Photography Library.
Posted: Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Just in time to celebrate the opening of the New European Paintings Galleries, Curator Maryan Ainsworth has coauthored a comprehensive guide to the Met's German paintings. The collection, which includes pictures made in the German-speaking lands (including Austria and Switzerland) from 1350 to 1600, constitutes the largest and most comprehensive group in an American museum today. Comprising major examples by the towering figures of the German Renaissance—Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach the Elder, and Hans Holbein the Younger—and many by lesser masters, the collection has grown slowly but steadily from the first major acquisitions in 1871 to the most recent in 2011; it now numbers seventy-two works, presented here in sixty-three entries.
Posted: Monday, June 3, 2013
Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2013
The last work installed for the New European Paintings Galleries the afternoon before the opening was the famous birth salver created in 1449 for Lorenzo de' Medici (known to later generations simply as Lorenzo the Magnificent). It's in Gallery 604. To make the final meticulous retouching of the mount, the installer, Warren Bennett, had to insert his head into the case, beneath the birth tray. I was struck by the very Neapolitan baroque quality of the image of his head—as though detached, John-the-Baptist fashion, by the "blade" of the salver! I couldn't help but snap a picture. Just look at the spot of light on the cranium: pure Mattia Preti!
Posted: Friday, May 10, 2013
The Cloisters marks its seventy-fifth anniversary this year. Since its opening on May 14, 1938, it has become a treasured landmark, celebrated for both its extraordinary setting and its world-class collection of medieval art and architecture. Located in Fort Tryon Park, a verdant oasis on the northern tip of Manhattan, the building commands sweeping views of the Hudson River and the towering Palisades on the river's opposite bank. The quiet of the lush gardens and the magnificence of the historic architecture create an ideal setting for the outstanding collection within.
Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Photography was invented just twenty years before the American Civil War. In many ways the war—its documentation, its soldiers, its battlefields—was the arena of the camera's debut in America. "The medium of photography was very young at the time the war began but it quickly emerged into the medium it is today," says Jeff Rosenheim, curator of the current exhibition Photography and the American Civil War (on view through September 2), and author of its accompanying catalogue. "I think that we are where we are in photographic history, in cultural history, because of what happened during the Civil War . . . it's the crucible of American history. The war changed the idea of what individual freedom meant; we abolished slavery, we unified our country, we did all those things, but with some really interesting new tools, one of which was photography."
Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Yesterday was an exciting and historic moment for the Met, as we announced the gift of Leonard Lauder's unrivaled collection of seventy-eight Cubist paintings to the Museum. This is among the greatest contributions to the Metropolitan in the course of its 143-year evolution, in the same league as gifts from J.P. Morgan, Louisine and H.O. Havemeyer, Benjamin Altman, Robert Lehman, Charles and Jayne Wrightsman, and Walter Annenberg—truly transformative collections that have come to the Met.
Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013
In recent weeks, you may have read about a lawsuit filed by one of the Metropolitan Museum's Fifth Avenue neighbors. It inaccurately alleges that the Met deceives the public by not making its long-standing pay-what-you-wish admission policy clear enough, and asserts that we are violating a nineteenth-century New York State law that once mandated that we be free to the public. This was followed by a second legal action, filed by the same law firm, seeking monetary damages.
Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013
One hundred years ago this weekend, on March 17, 1913, The Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired its first painting by the French Post-Impressionist master Paul Cézanne. The Museum purchased Cézanne's View of the Domaine Saint-Joseph at the groundbreaking International Exhibition of Modern Art, popularly known as the Armory Show.
Posted: Monday, March 4, 2013
On Monday, February 4, the Met hosted its twenty-first annual Family Benefit for families with kids of all ages. This year's theme, heroes and heroines, was a huge hit with parents and children alike.
Posted: Friday, March 1, 2013
One hundred and forty years ago today, on March 1, 1873, The Metropolitan Museum of Art signed a lease for the Douglas Mansion, located at 128 West 14th Street in Manhattan. The rapidly expanding museum had outgrown its original location in the Dodworth Building in midtown and was in need of additional gallery space.