Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible at The Met Breuer

A preview of the exhibition Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible, on view at The Met Breuer from March 18 through September 4, 2016.


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.

Comprising 197 works dating from the Renaissance to the present—approximately forty 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.

Featuring Kelly Baum, Curator, Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Andrea Bayer, Jayne Wrightsman Curator, Department of European Paintings

Kelly Baum: In this exhibition, there are really two kinds of objects. There are works of art that are literally unfinished, and then there are works of art that only appear unfinished.

Andrea Bayer: The exhibition begins in the Renaissance, and we go all the way up to works of art that are being created for us right now. So it's a grand sweep.

Kelly Baum: The fact that all of these objects live together in the same exhibition is unusual. It's curious and it's exciting.

Andrea Bayer: We show a fantastic painting by Alice Neel. We know now that the sitter never came back for his second sitting. He was about to go off to the Vietnam War. We have this beautiful portrait of somebody whose life was being interrupted.

Kelly Baum: Unfinished works of art always leave behind traces of the artistic process, whether it's an underlying sketch or a patch of bare canvas. And so when viewers are walking through Unfinished, they'll be able to imagine themselves standing behind the artist, watching them make, unmake, change, and edit.

Andrea Bayer: The viewer's imagination is necessary to complete these works.

Director: Christopher Noey
Producer: Kate Farrell
Editor: Dia Felix
Camera: Wayne De La Roche, Dia Felix
Lighting Director: Michael Pruitt-Bruun
Gaffer: Foster McLaughlin
Production Coordinator: Lisa Rifkind
Production Assistant: Karlie Effinger
Sound Recording: Tom Meyers
Original Music: Austin Fisher

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