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Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible

Baum, Kelly, Andrea Bayer, and Sheena Wagstaff with essays by Carmen C. Bambach, Thomas Beard, David Bomford, David Blayney Brown, Nicholas Cullinan, Michael Gallagher, Asher Ethan Miller, Nadine M. Orenstein, Diana Widmaier Picasso, Susan Stewart, and Nico Van Hout
2016
336 pages
312 illustrations
Publishers Weekly Art, Architecture, and Photography Top Ten Book for 2016
Gold Winner in Art Category, Foreword Reviews' Book of the Year Award (2016)
BIGNY Book Show, Winner (2017)
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This groundbreaking book explores the evolving concept of unfinishedness as essential to understanding art movements from the Renaissance to the present day. Unfinished features more than 200 works, created in a variety of media, by artists ranging from Leonardo, Titian, Rembrandt, Turner, and Cézanne to Picasso, Warhol, Twombly, Freud, Richter, and Nauman. What unites these works, across centuries and media, is that each one displays some aspect of being unfinished. Essays and case studies by major contemporary scholars address this key concept from the perspective of both the creator and the viewer, probing the impact that this long artistic trajectory—which can be traced back to the first century—has had on modern and contemporary art. The book investigates the degrees to which instances of incompleteness were accidental or intentional experimental or conceptual. Also included are illuminating interviews with contemporary artists, including Tuymans, Celmins, and Marden, and parallel considerations of the unfinished in literature and film. The result is a multidisciplinary approach and thought-provoking analysis that provide valuable insight into the making, meaning, and critical reception of the unfinished in art.

Met Art in Publication

The Forest in Winter at Sunset, Théodore Rousseau  French, Oil on canvas
ca. 1846–67
Portrait of a Man, Frans Hals  Dutch, Oil on canvas
early 1650s
María Teresa (1638–1683), Infanta of Spain, Velázquez (Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez)  Spanish, Oil on canvas
1651–54
Christ Carrying the Cross, Martin Schongauer  German, Engraving
ca. 1475–80
Christ Crucified between the Two Thieves: The Three Crosses, Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn)  Dutch, Drypoint printed on vellum
1653
Frontispiece, with Statue of Minerva, from "Vedute di Roma", Giovanni Battista Piranesi  Italian, Etching
ca. 1748
Émile Zola, Alexandre-Louis-Marie Charpentier  French, Bronze, French
1898
Le chef d'oeuvre inconnu, Honoré de Balzac  French, Woodcut and photo etching
Multiple artists/makers
1931
The Baptism of Christ, Jacopo Bassano (Jacopo da Ponte)  Italian, Oil on canvas
ca. 1590
View near Rouen, Richard Parkes Bonington  British, Oil on millboard
ca. 1825
The Dirty Bride or The Wedding of Mopsus and Nisa, Pieter Bruegel the Elder  Netherlandish, Pen and black-brown ink on white-prepared partially carved block of applewood
ca. 1566
Gardanne, Paul Cézanne  French, Oil on canvas
1885–86
View of the Domaine Saint-Joseph, Paul Cézanne  French, Oil on canvas
late 1880s
Madame Cézanne (Hortense Fiquet, 1850–1922) in the Conservatory, Paul Cézanne  French, Oil on canvas
1891
Boatman among the Reeds, Camille Corot  French, Oil on canvas
ca. 1865
Sibylle, Camille Corot  French, Oil on canvas
ca. 1870
Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564), Daniele da Volterra  Italian, Oil on wood
probably ca. 1545
The Third-Class Carriage, Honoré Daumier  French, Oil on canvas
1864
Self-Portrait, Edgar Degas  French, Etching on wove paper; first state of four
1857
Madame Théodore Gobillard (Yves Morisot, 1838–1893), Edgar Degas  French, Oil on canvas
1869
Showing 20 of 74

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Baum, Kelly, Andrea Bayer, Sheena Wagstaff, Carmen Bambach, Thomas Beard, David Bomford, David Blayney Brown, et al., eds. 2016. Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.