Light

Photographer Bruce Schwarz talks about light and the heavenly effect it can have on works of art.

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Some of the sculptures and some of the reliefs, they just jump when they get that early morning light.

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  • Bruce Schwarz
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  • The Great Hall  |  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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  • Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Arms and Armor Court  |  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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  • The Temple of Dendur  |  Roman period, ca. 15 b.c.  |  Egyptian; Dendur, Nubia  |  Sandstone  |  Given to the United States by Egypt in 1965, awarded to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1967, and installed in The Sackler Wing in 1978 (68.154)
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  • The Temple of Dendur  |  Roman period, ca. 15 b.c.  |  Egyptian; Dendur, Nubia  |  Sandstone  |  Given to the United States by Egypt in 1965, awarded to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1967, and installed in The Sackler Wing in 1978 (68.154)
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  • The Temple of Dendur  |  Roman period, ca. 15 b.c.  |  Egyptian; Dendur, Nubia  |  Sandstone  |  Given to the United States by Egypt in 1965, awarded to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1967, and installed in The Sackler Wing in 1978 (68.154)
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  • Robert Lehman Wing  |  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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  • The Charles Engelhard Court  |  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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  • The Carolyn, Kate, Elizabeth, Thomas, and Jonathan Weiner Gallery  |  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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  • The Carolyn, Kate, Elizabeth, Thomas, and Jonathan Weiner Gallery  |  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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  • Statue of a kouros (youth)  |  ca. 590–580 b.c.; Archaic  |  Greek, Attic  |  Naxian marble  |  Fletcher Fund, 1932 (32.11.1)
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  • Statue of a member of the imperial family shown in heroic semi-nudity  |  27 b.c.–68 a.d.; Early Imperial, Augustan or Julio-Claudian  |  Roman  |  Marble, pigment, gilding  |  Bequest of Bill Blass, 2002 (2003.407.9)
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  • The Arthur B. Sackler Gallery  |  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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  • The Arthur B. Sackler Gallery  |  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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  • The Astor Court  |  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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  • Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio  |  15th century (ca. 1479–82)  |  Possibly designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini (Italian, Sienese); Executed by Giuliano da Maiano (Italian)  |  Made in Gubbio, Italy  |  Walnut, beech, rosewood, oak, and fruitwoods on walnut base  |  Rogers Fund, 1939 (39.153)
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  • Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio  |  15th century (ca. 1479–82)  |  Possibly designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini (Italian, Sienese); Executed by Giuliano da Maiano (Italian)  |  Made in Gubbio, Italy  |  Walnut, beech, rosewood, oak, and fruitwoods on walnut base  |  Rogers Fund, 1939 (39.153)
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  • Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio  |  15th century (ca. 1479–82)  |  Possibly designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini (Italian, Sienese); Executed by Giuliano da Maiano (Italian)  |  Made in Gubbio, Italy  |  Walnut, beech, rosewood, oak, and fruitwoods on walnut base  |  Rogers Fund, 1939 (39.153)
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  • The Charles Engelhard Court  |  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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  • The Charles Engelhard Court  |  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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  • Aristotle with a Bust of Homer  |  1653  |  Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Purchase, special contributions and funds given or bequeathed by friends of the Museum, 1961 (61.198)
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  • Woman with a Lute  |  ca. 1662–63  |  Johannes Vermeer (Dutch)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Bequest of Collis P. Huntington, 1900 (25.110.24)
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  • Woman with a Lute  |  ca. 1662–63  |  Johannes Vermeer (Dutch)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Bequest of Collis P. Huntington, 1900 (25.110.24)
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  • Symphony No. 1, The Transcendental  |  1941–42  |  Richard Pousette-Dart (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1996 (1996.367)  |  © 2011 Estate of Richard Pousette-Dart / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
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  • Symphony No. 1, The Transcendental  |  1941–42  |  Richard Pousette-Dart (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1996 (1996.367)  |  © 2011 Estate of Richard Pousette-Dart / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
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  • Symphony No. 1, The Transcendental  |  1941–42  |  Richard Pousette-Dart (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1996 (1996.367)  |  © 2011 Estate of Richard Pousette-Dart / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
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  • Rouen Cathedral: The Portal (Sunlight)  |  1894  |  Claude Monet (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915 (30.95.250)
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  • The Leon Levy and Shelby White Court  |  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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  • "Light" by Bruce Schwarz
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  • My name is Bruce Schwarz and I'm a photographer. My photography professor in college said, "Three things to know about photography: light, light, and

  • light." And the way that this museum was designed, there was a premium put on light.

  • And I thought I would talk about a few of the galleries that I really find heavenly.

  • One of the great places in the museum is the Temple of Dendur. You know it's not hard to fall in love with, but the space that it was put in is impressive, and I think that the reason is because it has captured some of the natural light that would have fallen on the building, and how the guys who designed the Temple of Dendur two thousand years ago would have seen it. I mean, so

  • it has an afternoon light coming in, raking across, and those very shallow reliefs pick up during the afternoon light.

  • In photography they sometimes talked about the magic hour, the blue hour, that gloaming. In French they would say le douloureux, the sadness that in a way is good for us to feel every once in a while, and that room, it's just a magical place.

  • I sort of believe that there's good places for good light. And, you know, like all the painters in the 1940s and the '50s went out east end of Long Island, that wasn't because they like potato farms, it's because they thought that there was great light out there.

  • Well, you know, our little spot on 82nd Street and Fifth Avenue, it gets great light.

  • When I was younger, coming in to work in the morning, I would stop and sit in the Greek and Roman galleries.

  • I would look at art, but I wouldn't look at art, I would look at the light on the art coming in from Fifth Avenue.

  • And especially because of the items that are in there – some of the sculptures and some of the reliefs

  • they just jump when they get that early morning light.

  • The design of the building has this wonderful pathway through, so that when you're in a darkened room

  • you're just drawn to the light in these day-lit galleries.

  • When you're in the Astor Court, you could be in the hills of China. One of the things that I talk about sometimes is interior landscapes and I love it that you see the shadows of the glass pyramid that's above it, and your eye knows that you're inside, but it's so perfectly done, you don't see it when you're in there.

  • The amazing thing about this room is that there is no sculpture, there's no painting, there's no drawing. This is a room of flat walls with

  • inlaid wood. And they designed it so that it would

  • catch the afternoon light. I mean I could go there and not do anything and just sit there and watch the light go across my walls.

  • The Engelhard Courtyard, I think, is perhaps the most successful space in the Museum. It changes by the minute, but also by the season. The space itself is beautiful – would anybody think

  • that the Bank Façade deserves to be in the Metropolitan Museum if it wasn't in the Engelhard Courtyard? You know, if you put that outside, nobody would look at it, but that outdoor space, brought inside, it's like seeing, you know, something in Rome or in Cairo.

  • I got to spend a lot of Saturdays with Hubert von Sonnenburg, who was the former director of the paintings conservation department, and a guy who really taught me how to see

  • painting. And one of the things that he always said was, "You never look at a good painting,

  • you always look into it." A great picture has depth, and so you have to light it so that you find that depth.

  • I was shooting these Pousette-Dart paintings. Lowery Sims, who used to be a curator here at the Metropolitan Museum, said, "Nope that's not it, nope that's not it." And I said, "Lowery, what do you want me to do?" And she said, "I want it to look like the light is coming out of the painting." And I was like, well that's very nice, Lowery, but I have to light the painting from the front!

  • At the end of the day I turned off all my lights and there was an exit sign light and it was hitting the painting, and it looked like light was coming out of the painting. And I thought

  • this is it, now I just have to figure out how I can light like an exit sign, but we did it and she was happy and I was happy, but it was just one of those things.

  • A painting changes with whatever light is falling upon it and that's the same thing I think with

  • good galleries, they change and they make the art better. I'm sure some curators would argue that the light isn't making the art better, but

  • I think that it does.

  • 68.154
    The Temple of Dendur, Roman period, ca. 15 b.c., Egyptian; Dendur, Nubia, Sandstone Given to the United States by Egypt in 1965, awarded to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1967, and installed in The Sackler Wing in 1978 (68.154)
  • 32.11.1_v001
    Statue of a kouros (youth), ca. 590–580 b.c.; Archaic, Greek, Attic, Naxian marble Fletcher Fund, 1932 (32.11.1)
  • 2003.407.9
    Statue of a member of the imperial family shown in heroic semi-nudity, 27 b.c.–68 a.d.; Early Imperial, Augustan or Julio-Claudian, Roman, Marble, pigment, gilding Bequest of Bill Blass, 2002 (2003.407.9)
  • 39.153_av2
    Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio, 15th century (ca. 1479–82), Possibly designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini (Italian, Sienese); Executed by Giuliano da Maiano (Italian), Made in Gubbio, Italy, Walnut, beech, rosewood, oak, and fruitwoods on walnut base Rogers Fund, 1939 (39.153)
  • 61.198
    Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, 1653, Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch), Oil on canvas Purchase, special contributions and funds given or bequeathed by friends of the Museum, 1961 (61.198)
  • 25.110.24
    Woman with a Lute, ca. 1662–63, Johannes Vermeer (Dutch), Oil on canvas Bequest of Collis P. Huntington, 1900 (25.110.24)
  • 1996.367
    Symphony No. 1, The Transcendental, 1941–42, Richard Pousette-Dart (American), Oil on canvas Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1996 (1996.367) © 2011 Estate of Richard Pousette-Dart / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • 30.95.250
    Rouen Cathedral: The Portal (Sunlight), 1894, Claude Monet (French), Oil on canvas Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915 (30.95.250)
  • The Temple of Dendur, Roman period, ca. 15 b.c., Egyptian; Dendur, Nubia, Sandstone Given to the United States by Egypt in 1965, awarded to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1967, and installed in The Sackler Wing in 1978 (68.154)
    Statue of a kouros (youth), ca. 590–580 b.c.; Archaic, Greek, Attic, Naxian marble Fletcher Fund, 1932 (32.11.1)
    Statue of a member of the imperial family shown in heroic semi-nudity, 27 b.c.–68 a.d.; Early Imperial, Augustan or Julio-Claudian, Roman, Marble, pigment, gilding Bequest of Bill Blass, 2002 (2003.407.9)
    Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio, 15th century (ca. 1479–82), Possibly designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini (Italian, Sienese); Executed by Giuliano da Maiano (Italian), Made in Gubbio, Italy, Walnut, beech, rosewood, oak, and fruitwoods on walnut base Rogers Fund, 1939 (39.153)
    Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, 1653, Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch), Oil on canvas Purchase, special contributions and funds given or bequeathed by friends of the Museum, 1961 (61.198)
    Woman with a Lute, ca. 1662–63, Johannes Vermeer (Dutch), Oil on canvas Bequest of Collis P. Huntington, 1900 (25.110.24)
    Symphony No. 1, The Transcendental, 1941–42, Richard Pousette-Dart (American), Oil on canvas Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1996 (1996.367) © 2011 Estate of Richard Pousette-Dart / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    Rouen Cathedral: The Portal (Sunlight), 1894, Claude Monet (French), Oil on canvas Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915 (30.95.250)
    8000–2000 B.C.
    2000–1000 B.C.
    1000 B.C.–1 A.D.
    1–500 A.D.
    500–1000 A.D.
    1000–1400 A.D.
    1400–1600 A.D.
    1600–1800 A.D.
    1800–1900 A.D.
    1900–Present

    Works of art in order of appearance

    Last Updated: August 19, 2013. Not all works of art in the Museum's collection may be on view on a particular day. For the most accurate location information, please check this page on the day of your visit.

    The Temple of Dendur
    Roman period, ca. 15 b.c.
    Egyptian; Dendur, Nubia
    Sandstone
    Given to the United States by Egypt in 1965, awarded to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1967, and installed in The Sackler Wing in 1978 (68.154)
    On view: Gallery 131
    Egyptian ArtFirst Floor
    Statue of a kouros (youth)
    ca. 590–580 b.c.; Archaic
    Greek, Attic
    Naxian marble
    Fletcher Fund, 1932 (32.11.1)
    On view: Gallery 154
    Greek and Roman ArtFirst Floor and Mezzanine
    Statue of a member of the imperial family shown in heroic semi-nudity
    27 b.c.–68 a.d.; Early Imperial, Augustan or Julio-Claudian
    Roman
    Marble, pigment, gilding
    Bequest of Bill Blass, 2002 (2003.407.9)
    On view: Gallery 162
    Greek and Roman ArtFirst Floor and Mezzanine
    Studiolo from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio
    15th century (ca. 1479–82)
    Possibly designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini (Italian, Sienese); Executed by Giuliano da Maiano (Italian)
    Made in Gubbio, Italy
    Walnut, beech, rosewood, oak, and fruitwoods on walnut base
    Rogers Fund, 1939 (39.153)
    On view: Gallery 501
    European Sculpture and Decorative ArtsFirst Floor
    Aristotle with a Bust of Homer
    1653
    Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch)
    Oil on canvas
    Purchase, special contributions and funds given or bequeathed by friends of the Museum, 1961 (61.198)
    On view: Gallery 637
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Woman with a Lute
    ca. 1662–63
    Johannes Vermeer (Dutch)
    Oil on canvas
    Bequest of Collis P. Huntington, 1900 (25.110.24)
    On view: Gallery 632
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Symphony No. 1, The Transcendental
    1941–42
    Richard Pousette-Dart (American)
    Oil on canvas
    Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1996 (1996.367)
    © 2011 Estate of Richard Pousette-Dart / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    On view: Gallery 920
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor
    Rouen Cathedral: The Portal (Sunlight)
    1894
    Claude Monet (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915 (30.95.250)
    On view: Gallery 819
    European PaintingsSecond Floor

    © 2011 The Metropolitan Museum of Art