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Exhibitions/ Unfinished

Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible

March 18–September 4, 2016

Exhibition Catalogue

This groundbreaking volume presents a multidisciplinary analysis that illuminates the making, meaning, and reception of the unfinished in art.

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Exhibition Overview

This exhibition addresses a subject critical to artistic practice: the question of when a work of art is finished. Beginning with the Renaissance masters, this scholarly and innovative exhibition examines the term "unfinished" in its broadest possible sense, including works left incomplete by their makers, which often give insight into the process of their creation, but also those that partake of a non finito—intentionally unfinished—aesthetic that embraces the unresolved and open-ended. Some of history's greatest artists explored such an aesthetic, among them Titian, Rembrandt, Turner, and Cézanne.

The unfinished has been taken in entirely new directions by modern and contemporary artists, among them Janine Antoni, Lygia Clark, Jackson Pollock, and Robert Rauschenberg, who alternately blurred the distinction between making and un-making, extended the boundaries of art into both space and time, and recruited viewers to complete the objects they had begun.

Comprising 197 works dating from the Renaissance to the present—approximately 40 percent of which are drawn from the Museum's own collection, enhanced by major national and international loans—this exhibition demonstrates The Met's unique capacity to mine its rich collection and scholarly resources to present modern and contemporary art within a deep historical context.


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Unfinished: New Directions

"The show is a non-stop sequence of arousals and exhilarations."—The New Yorker

"As philosophically rich as it is aesthetically rewarding"—Boston Globe

"[The exhibition] illuminates the process of both making and looking at art in remarkable ways."—New York Times

The exhibition is made possible by Leonard A. Lauder and The Dr. Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation.

Additional support is provided by The Daniel and Estrellita Brodsky Foundation, the Jane and Robert Carroll Fund, Howard I. Hoffen & Sandra Hoffen, Kenneth and Rosalind Landis, Ann M. Spruill and Daniel H. Cantwell, and Northern Trust.

Northern Trust

It is supported by an Indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The catalogue is made possible by the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Inc. and the Roswell L. Gilpatric Publications Fund.

Exhibition Objects

Alice Neel (American, 1900–1984). James Hunter Black Draftee (detail), 1965. Oil on canvas; 60 x 40 in. (152.4 x 101.6 cm). COMMA Foundation, Belgium. © The Estate of Alice Neel