Performance

Publications editor Elizabeth Weinfield's background in musical performance enhances her appreciation for the visual arts.

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I always think about the scribe, and I wonder, as they drew each note, if they were singing along.

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  • Elizabeth Weinfield
    1280852
  • Music stand  |  1962  |  Wharton Esherick (American)  |  Cherry wood  |  Gift of Dr. Irwin R. Berman, in memory of his father, Allan Lake Berman, 1979 (1979.320)
    7991024
  • Double Virginal  |  1581  |  Made by Hans Ruckers the Elder (Flemish)  |  Antwerp, Flanders  |  Wood and various other materials  |  Gift of B. H. Homan, 1929 (29.90)
    1280637
  • Untitled  |  ca. 1948–49  |  Jackson Pollock (American)  |  Dripped ink and enamel on paper  |  Gift of Lee Krasner Pollock, 1982 (1982.147.27)  |  © 2011 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    1280974
  • Abstract Trio  |  1923  |  Paul Klee (German)  |  Watercolor and transferred printing ink on paper, bordered with gouache and ink  |  The Berggruen Klee Collection, 1984 (1984.315.36)  |  © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
    1280877
  • Cittern (Hamburger Cithrinchen)  |  ca. 1685  |  Joachim Tielke (German)  |  Wood, ivory, ebony, other materials  |  Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift and Rogers Fund, 1985 (1985.124)
    5451024
  • Cittern (Hamburger Cithrinchen)  |  ca. 1685  |  Joachim Tielke (German)  |  Wood, ivory, ebony, other materials  |  Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift and Rogers Fund, 1985 (1985.124)
    1243876
  • Cittern (Hamburger Cithrinchen)  |  ca. 1685  |  Joachim Tielke (German)  |  Wood, ivory, ebony, other materials  |  Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift and Rogers Fund, 1985 (1985.124)
    8611024
  • Cittern (Hamburger Cithrinchen)  |  ca. 1685  |  Joachim Tielke (German)  |  Wood, ivory, ebony, other materials  |  Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift and Rogers Fund, 1985 (1985.124)
    1255948
  • The Musicians  |  ca. 1595  |  Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi) (Italian, Lombard)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Rogers Fund, 1952 (52.81)
    1280989
  • Assumption of the Virgin in an Initial A: Cutting from an Antiphonary  |  ca. 1470–80  |  Cosimo Tura (Italian)  |  Tempera and gold leaf on parchment  |  Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.50.1)
    7251024
  • Funeral Procession in an Initial R  |  Leaf from a gradual  |  second half of 15th century  |  Mariano del Buono (Italian, Florentine)  |  Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment  |  Gift of Louis L. Lorillard, 1896 (96.32.16)
    7441024
  • Mihrab  |  1354  |  Isfahan, Iran  |  Mosaic of monochrome-glaze tiles on composite body set on plaster  |  Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1939 (39.20)
    6891024
  • Mihrab  |  1354  |  Isfahan, Iran  |  Mosaic of monochrome-glaze tiles on composite body set on plaster  |  Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1939 (39.20)
    1280942
  • The Musician  |  1662  |  Bartholomeus van der Helst (Dutch)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Purchase, 1873 (73.2)
    8171024
  • Koto with Case  |  early 17th century; fabric koto wrap, 18th and 19th century  |  Goto Teijo, Ninth Generation Goto Master (Japanese)  |  Japan  |  Various woods, ivory and tortoiseshell inlay, gold and silver inlays, metalwork  |  Purchase, Amati Gifts, 2007 (2007.194a–f)
    1280813
  • [Woman with Tea Set Playing the Koto]  |  ca. 1860  |  Felice Beato (English, born Corfu)  |  Albumen silver print from glass negative  |  Gift of Isaac Lagnado, in honor of Paula J. Giardina, 2009 (2009.538.1)
    12801011
  • The Dancing Class  |  ca. 1870  |  Edgar Degas (French)  |  Oil on wood  |  H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.184)
    1280915
  • The Dancing Class  |  ca. 1870  |  Edgar Degas (French)  |  Oil on wood  |  H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.184)
    1197998
  • Two Men Contemplating the Moon  |  ca. 1825–30  |  Caspar David Friedrich (German)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Wrightsman Fund, 2000 (2000.51)
    12801021
  • Mezzetin  |  ca. 1718–20  |  Jean Antoine Watteau (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Munsey Fund, 1934 (34.138)
    8011024
  • The French Comedians  |  1720–21  |  Jean Antoine Watteau (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.54)
    12801000
  • The French Comedians  |  1720–21  |  Jean Antoine Watteau (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.54)
    1280802
  • Elizabeth Weinfield
    1280852
  • My name is Elizabeth Weinfield and I'm the content editor of the Timeline of Art History here at the Met, and I'm going to be discussing performance.

  • When I'm not here at the Met, chances are, I'm off doing my other job, which is performing classical music.

  • I think it would really be impossible to say that performance or playing music doesn't in some way contribute to the way that I look at art.

  • The Jackson Pollock reminds me of the visual element in a score of around the same time, for example a score by Stravinsky or Prokofiev, in which we see just a vast array of notes and kind of gestural indications that are really abstracted to the point where they almost jump off the page. And that is an idea we can

  • also see in this Paul Klee. The notes are morphing into music as we look at them. They're turning into the visual equivalent of sound.

  • As a strings player I'm very struck by the work of Tielke because the instruments are just so exquisite.

  • The scroll is constructed into a head of a Moorish king, and your eye naturally cascades

  • down the fingerboard. You see this wonderful tortoise shell and ivory inlay

  • down to the rosette in the center. I perform Baroque music so I'm

  • very interested in Baroque painters. And this painting The Musicians by Caravaggio is interesting because it was painted at the time that he lived in a home for castrati, young men who were castrated, usually between the ages of eight and ten, and this allowed them to grow into adulthood, but their childlike, boyish voice would be maintained. It's really a voice type that we don't know today.

  • I love looking at manuscripts of notation. I always think about the scribe, and I wonder

  • as they drew each note, if they were singing along.

  • With this piece, I think about what Hillary Hahn says about working on a concerto, "It's like chipping away slowly at a big block of marble to reveal sculpture."

  • And we really get the sense in this geometric design if we were to miss one little detail, the whole thing would crumble. The same thing happens to performance.

  • When I think of the appearance of my instruments I think of this little spot on the edge of my viola that my finger has left from years of shifting up to this one part.

  • And with the koto, the instruments are actually lacquered underneath the top layer, so that as the instrument

  • is worn and used, a kind of brightly colored gold lacquer comes forward.

  • The Degas painting The Dancing Class, we're not looking at a performance, we're seeing these dancers from backstage. And we see a musician in the painting.

  • The dancers paused, he's paused, and we anticipate the musical reel. We're waiting for this performance to happen.

  • Time slows down in the music of the Romantic period. In the hands of Brahms and Bruckner, we're given the opportunity as listeners to think. And there's the same kind of infinite quality that's present in Friedrich, we get the sense that these men are looking out into a kind of forever, way beyond the extension of the frame. Many people

  • think that musicians have to call upon some infinite source of emotion or psychology or memory set when we play, and that's actually not true.

  • We're sort of trained through our technique to make certain choices that will sound

  • sad or joyous. On the other hand it is very exhausting to perform because we can't divorce ourselves completely

  • from this emotional connection.

  • 1979.320
    Music stand, 1962, Wharton Esherick (American), Cherry wood Gift of Dr. Irwin R. Berman, in memory of his father, Allan Lake Berman, 1979 (1979.320)
  • 29.90
    Double Virginal, 1581, Made by Hans Ruckers the Elder (Flemish), Antwerp, Flanders, Wood and various other materials Gift of B. H. Homan, 1929 (29.90)
  • 1982.147.27
    Untitled, ca. 1948–49, Jackson Pollock (American), Dripped ink and enamel on paper Gift of Lee Krasner Pollock, 1982 (1982.147.27) © 2011 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • 1984.315.36
    Abstract Trio, 1923, Paul Klee (German), Watercolor and transferred printing ink on paper, bordered with gouache and ink The Berggruen Klee Collection, 1984 (1984.315.36) © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
  • 1985.124
    Cittern (Hamburger Cithrinchen), ca. 1685, Joachim Tielke (German), Wood, ivory, ebony, other materials Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift and Rogers Fund, 1985 (1985.124)
  • 52.81
    The Musicians, ca. 1595, Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi) (Italian, Lombard), Oil on canvas Rogers Fund, 1952 (52.81)
  • 11.50.1
    Assumption of the Virgin in an Initial A: Cutting from an Antiphonary, ca. 1470–80, Cosimo Tura (Italian), Tempera and gold leaf on parchment Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.50.1)
  • 96.32.16
    Funeral Procession in an Initial R, Leaf from a gradual, second half of 15th century, Mariano del Buono (Italian, Florentine), Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment Gift of Louis L. Lorillard, 1896 (96.32.16)
  • 39.20
    Mihrab, 1354, Isfahan, Iran, Mosaic of monochrome-glaze tiles on composite body set on plaster Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1939 (39.20)
  • 73.2
    The Musician, 1662, Bartholomeus van der Helst (Dutch), Oil on canvas Purchase, 1873 (73.2)
  • 2007.194a-f
    Koto with Case, early 17th century; fabric koto wrap, 18th and 19th century, Goto Teijo, Ninth Generation Goto Master (Japanese), Japan, Various woods, ivory and tortoiseshell inlay, gold and silver inlays, metalwork Purchase, Amati Gifts, 2007 (2007.194a–f)
  • 2009.538.1
    [Woman with Tea Set Playing the Koto], ca. 1860, Felice Beato (English, born Corfu), Albumen silver print from glass negative Gift of Isaac Lagnado, in honor of Paula J. Giardina, 2009 (2009.538.1)
  • 29.100.184
    The Dancing Class, ca. 1870, Edgar Degas (French), Oil on wood H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.184)
  • 2000.51
    Two Men Contemplating the Moon, ca. 1825–30, Caspar David Friedrich (German), Oil on canvas Wrightsman Fund, 2000 (2000.51)
  • 34.138
    Mezzetin, ca. 1718–20, Jean Antoine Watteau (French), Oil on canvas Munsey Fund, 1934 (34.138)
  • 49.7.54
    The French Comedians, 1720–21, Jean Antoine Watteau (French), Oil on canvas The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.54)
  • Music stand, 1962, Wharton Esherick (American), Cherry wood Gift of Dr. Irwin R. Berman, in memory of his father, Allan Lake Berman, 1979 (1979.320)
    Double Virginal, 1581, Made by Hans Ruckers the Elder (Flemish), Antwerp, Flanders, Wood and various other materials Gift of B. H. Homan, 1929 (29.90)
    Untitled, ca. 1948–49, Jackson Pollock (American), Dripped ink and enamel on paper Gift of Lee Krasner Pollock, 1982 (1982.147.27) © 2011 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    Abstract Trio, 1923, Paul Klee (German), Watercolor and transferred printing ink on paper, bordered with gouache and ink The Berggruen Klee Collection, 1984 (1984.315.36) © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
    Cittern (Hamburger Cithrinchen), ca. 1685, Joachim Tielke (German), Wood, ivory, ebony, other materials Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift and Rogers Fund, 1985 (1985.124)
    The Musicians, ca. 1595, Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi) (Italian, Lombard), Oil on canvas Rogers Fund, 1952 (52.81)
    Assumption of the Virgin in an Initial A: Cutting from an Antiphonary, ca. 1470–80, Cosimo Tura (Italian), Tempera and gold leaf on parchment Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.50.1)
    Funeral Procession in an Initial R, Leaf from a gradual, second half of 15th century, Mariano del Buono (Italian, Florentine), Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment Gift of Louis L. Lorillard, 1896 (96.32.16)
    Mihrab, 1354, Isfahan, Iran, Mosaic of monochrome-glaze tiles on composite body set on plaster Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1939 (39.20)
    The Musician, 1662, Bartholomeus van der Helst (Dutch), Oil on canvas Purchase, 1873 (73.2)
    Koto with Case, early 17th century; fabric koto wrap, 18th and 19th century, Goto Teijo, Ninth Generation Goto Master (Japanese), Japan, Various woods, ivory and tortoiseshell inlay, gold and silver inlays, metalwork Purchase, Amati Gifts, 2007 (2007.194a–f)
    [Woman with Tea Set Playing the Koto], ca. 1860, Felice Beato (English, born Corfu), Albumen silver print from glass negative Gift of Isaac Lagnado, in honor of Paula J. Giardina, 2009 (2009.538.1)
    The Dancing Class, ca. 1870, Edgar Degas (French), Oil on wood H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.184)
    Two Men Contemplating the Moon, ca. 1825–30, Caspar David Friedrich (German), Oil on canvas Wrightsman Fund, 2000 (2000.51)
    Mezzetin, ca. 1718–20, Jean Antoine Watteau (French), Oil on canvas Munsey Fund, 1934 (34.138)
    The French Comedians, 1720–21, Jean Antoine Watteau (French), Oil on canvas The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.54)
    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.

    Music stand
    1962
    Wharton Esherick (American)
    Cherry wood
    Gift of Dr. Irwin R. Berman, in memory of his father, Allan Lake Berman, 1979 (1979.320)
    Not on view
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor
    Double Virginal
    1581
    Made by Hans Ruckers the Elder (Flemish)
    Antwerp, Flanders
    Wood and various other materials
    Gift of B. H. Homan, 1929 (29.90)
    Not on view
    Musical InstrumentsSecond Floor
    Untitled
    ca. 1948–49
    Jackson Pollock (American)
    Dripped ink and enamel on paper
    Gift of Lee Krasner Pollock, 1982 (1982.147.27)
    © 2011 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    Not on view
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor
    Abstract Trio
    1923
    Paul Klee (German)
    Watercolor and transferred printing ink on paper, bordered with gouache and ink
    The Berggruen Klee Collection, 1984 (1984.315.36)
    © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
    Not on view
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor
    Cittern (Hamburger Cithrinchen)
    ca. 1685
    Joachim Tielke (German)
    Wood, ivory, ebony, other materials
    Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift and Rogers Fund, 1985 (1985.124)
    On view: Gallery 684
    Musical InstrumentsSecond Floor
    The Musicians
    ca. 1595
    Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi) (Italian, Lombard)
    Oil on canvas
    Rogers Fund, 1952 (52.81)
    On view: Gallery 621
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Assumption of the Virgin in an Initial A: Cutting from an Antiphonary
    ca. 1470–80
    Cosimo Tura (Italian)
    Tempera and gold leaf on parchment
    Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.50.1)
    Not on view
    Medieval Art and The CloistersFirst Floor
    Funeral Procession in an Initial R
    Leaf from a gradual
    second half of 15th century
    Mariano del Buono (Italian, Florentine)
    Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment
    Gift of Louis L. Lorillard, 1896 (96.32.16)
    Not on view
    Medieval Art and The CloistersFirst Floor
    Mihrab
    1354
    Isfahan, Iran
    Mosaic of monochrome-glaze tiles on composite body set on plaster
    Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1939 (39.20)
    On view: Gallery 455
    Islamic ArtSecond Floor
    The Musician
    1662
    Bartholomeus van der Helst (Dutch)
    Oil on canvas
    Purchase, 1873 (73.2)
    Not on view
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Koto with Case
    early 17th century; fabric koto wrap, 18th and 19th century
    Goto Teijo, Ninth Generation Goto Master (Japanese)
    Japan
    Various woods, ivory and tortoiseshell inlay, gold and silver inlays, metalwork
    Purchase, Amati Gifts, 2007 (2007.194a–f)
    On view: Gallery 681
    Musical InstrumentsSecond Floor
    [Woman with Tea Set Playing the Koto]
    ca. 1860
    Felice Beato (English, born Corfu)
    Albumen silver print from glass negative
    Gift of Isaac Lagnado, in honor of Paula J. Giardina, 2009 (2009.538.1)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    The Dancing Class
    ca. 1870
    Edgar Degas (French)
    Oil on wood
    H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.184)
    On view: Gallery 815
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Two Men Contemplating the Moon
    ca. 1825–30
    Caspar David Friedrich (German)
    Oil on canvas
    Wrightsman Fund, 2000 (2000.51)
    On view: Gallery 807
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Mezzetin
    ca. 1718–20
    Jean Antoine Watteau (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Munsey Fund, 1934 (34.138)
    On view: Gallery 616
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    The French Comedians
    1720–21
    Jean Antoine Watteau (French)
    Oil on canvas
    The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.54)
    On view: Gallery 616
    European PaintingsSecond Floor

    © 2011 The Metropolitan Museum of Art