The Department of Drawings and Prints boasts more than one million drawings, prints, and illustrated books made in Europe and the Americas from around 1400 to the present day. Because of their number and sensitivity to light, the works can only be exhibited for a limited period and are usually housed in on-site storage facilities. To highlight the vast range of works on paper, the department organizes four rotations a year in the Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Gallery. Each installation is the product of a collaboration among curators and consists of up to one hundred objects grouped by artist, technique, style, period, or subject.
To celebrate The Met’s 150th anniversary, the Department of Drawings and Prints will present four thematic installations inspired by the depth of its collections. Each illustrates important aspects of a remarkable history and highlights how the department has been shaped by collectors, artistic practice, the art-historical canon, and the Museum’s connection to New York.
This third installation features works that relate to New York’s history and urban development, its iconic monuments and skyline views, the people who call it home, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Many of the artworks on display represent reflections of and reactions to New York as a physical place of residence and refuge. Others capture the city’s more metaphysical characterizations, made famous, for instance, by Frank Sinatra’s song “New York, New York.” Lyrics such as “a city that doesn’t sleep” and “if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” aptly express the bifurcated nature of the New York experience as one of excitement and chaos, opportunity, and hardship.
Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi (French, 1834–1904). Presentation Drawing of “The Statue of Liberty Illuminating the World,” 1875. Charcoal, heightened with white chalk, Sheet: 33 7/16 x 51 3/16 in. (85 x 130 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Harry G. Sperling Fund, 2014 (2014.486)