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Press release

Metropolitan Museum of Art Expands
Modern and Contemporary Art Program
with Launch of The Met Breuer in March 2016

The Met Breuer

Inaugural Season at Landmark Marcel Breuer-designed Building Will Feature: 

  • Thematic exhibition examining the fascination for unfinished works of art, from the Renaissance to the present day 
  • One-person exhibitions highlighting the Indian modernist artist Nasreen Mohamedi, rarely seen early photographs by Diane Arbus, and a mid-career retrospective of the contemporary painter Kerry James Marshall 
  • New performance works by Artist in Residence Vijay Iyer, a newly commissioned sonic experience by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams, and an all-day staging in the Met’s three locations of the U.S. premiere of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s massive, unfinished electro-acoustic composition Klang 
  • Interactive, participatory programs for all audiences connecting people directly with art, architecture, and design, across time and cultures

(New York, April 8, 2015)—The Metropolitan Museum of Art will launch its first season of programming in the landmark building by Marcel Breuer on Madison Avenue at 75th Street in New York, when The Met Breuer opens to the public in March 2016. Encompassing major monographic and thematic exhibitions, new commissions, performances, and an artist-in-residence series, the inaugural season at The Met Breuer will enable visitors to engage with the art of the 20th and 21st centuries through the global breadth and historical reach of the Met's unparalleled collection and scholarly resources. 

“The launch of The Met Breuer marks the start of an exciting new chapter for the Museum, allowing us additional space to expand our modern and contemporary visual and performing arts program, as we concurrently redesign and rebuild our Southwest Wing,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. “We believe that contemporary art is best understood as an integral part of a broader continuum of creativity—spanning cultures, eras, and genres—and this perspective will continue to infuse our activities in all three of our locations: on Fifth Avenue, at The Cloisters, and at The Met Breuer.”

The two inaugural exhibitions at The Met Breuer will be: a major, cross-departmental curatorial initiative, Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible including works by some of the greatest artists of all time, ranging from Titian to Louise Bourgeois, who experimented with a non finito style; and the largest exhibition to date dedicated to Indian modernist Nasreen Mohamedi. The 2016 season will also feature an exhibition opening in July of early photographs (1956-1962) by Diane Arbus, primarily drawn from the Museum’s Diane Arbus Archive; and, in October, the first major survey in the U.S. of Kerry James Marshall, whose work asserts the place of the black figure within the narrative of Western painting.

The Met Breuer’s first season will also include performances and installations by Artist in Residence Vijay Iyer, the renowned musician and artistic collaborator. His projects will include a presentation of new work in an 18-day installation in the Lobby Gallery. Two additional contemporary performing art works will interweave visitor experiences across the Met’s three buildings: a newly commissioned sonic composition by John Luther Adams, Soundwalk 9:09, the title of which references the length of the walk between the Met’s main building at Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street and The Met Breuer at Madison Avenue and 75th Street; and the U.S. premiere of the massive, unfinished composition in 21 parts, Klang by Karlheinz Stockhausen, that visitors can hear in the course of a single day at the Museum’s three locations—its Fifth Avenue building, The Met Breuer, and The Cloisters museum and gardens.

“For our inaugural season at The Met Breuer, we have dug deeply into our own collection and created partnerships to stimulate new scholarship and explore themes that stretch across history, geography, and art forms. Great works of art can transcend both time and place, and our program will powerfully demonstrate that potential,” said Sheena Wagstaff, the Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of the Met’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Current and upcoming modern and contemporary art exhibitions and initiatives at the Fifth Avenue building include the first survey exhibition of Piotr Uklański’s photography and a concurrent exhibition of objects from the collection curated by the artist (through August 16 and June 14, 2015, respectively); an installation by French conceptual artist Pierre Huyghe on the Met’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden (May 12–November 1, weather permitting); the first season of The Artist Project, a new online series that shares the perspectives of 100 contemporary artists on works from the Museum’s collection that have inspired them; and the first of an annual series of reinterpretations of the modern and contemporary art collection. Modern and contemporary art activities will continue in the Museum’s Fifth Avenue location, as the conceptual plan is developed for the eventual redesign and rebuilding of the Southwest Wing by recently appointed David Chipperfield Architects.

The Met will develop and present programming at The Met Breuer for a period of eight years, following a collaborative agreement between the Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art, which was formerly housed in the building and is relocating to its new museum facility in downtown Manhattan this May. In addition to exhibitions and performance, The Met Breuer will host a wide range of educational and public programming for visitors of all ages, connecting audiences with practicing artists through art-making, talks, and activities in the galleries. A dedicated page on the Met’s website——will be updated regularly with detailed information on The Met Breuer’s exhibitions and programs.

The Museum gratefully acknowledges Trustees and close friends who have provided leadership support for The Met Breuer.

2016 Exhibitions at The Met Breuer

Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible
March – September 4, 2016

Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible examines a subject critical to artistic practice: the question of when a work of art is finished. Beginning with the Renaissance masters, this scholarly exhibition considers the impact of significant works of art that were left incomplete by their makers, but have been preserved and appreciated until today. Just as important, it examines finished works that make a feature of a non finito aesthetic that allowed for the incomplete, the open-ended, and the unresolved. Some of history’s greatest artists explored such an aesthetic, among them Titian, Rembrandt, Turner, Cézanne, Picasso, Louise Bourgeois, Lucian Freud, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, and Luc Tuymans, all of whom are represented in this exhibition.

Comprising 140 works dating from the Renaissance to the present, and predominantly 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 collections and scholarly resources to present modern and contemporary art within a deep historical context. Its catalogue will expand the subject to include the subject of the ‘unfinished’ in literature and film, and the role of the conservator in elucidating a deeper understanding of artistic practice through unfinished works of art.

The exhibition is co-curated at the Met by: Andrea Bayer, the Jayne Wrightsman Curator in the Department of European Paintings, and Nicholas Cullinan, former Curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, under the direction of Sheena Wagstaff.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication that incorporates both scholarly texts and interviews with contemporary artists. It will be published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press.

Nasreen Mohamedi
March 2016 – June 5, 2016

A singular artist to emerge in post-Independence India, Nasreen Mohamedi (1937–90) created a body of work vital to the evolution of international modernism and abstraction. The Met Breuer exhibition marks the largest presentation of Mohamedi’s work to date and explores the conceptual complexity and visual subtlety that made her practice unique in its time.

Mohamedi drew upon a range of inspirations in her work, from Paul Klee and Agnes Martin, to Mughal architecture and Indian classical music, the architecture of Louis Kahn, and Italian neorealist cinema. She experimented with organic lines, delicate grids and hard-edged forms in her oeuvre, and this aesthetic informed and infused the photographs she took throughout her life. With more than 130 paintings, drawings, and photographs, the exhibition surveys the different stages of Mohamedi’s career and the development of her aesthetic approach, which made her one the most significant artists of her generation.

The exhibition is curated by Roobina Karode, Director of the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, with Sheena Wagstaff at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Manuel J. Borja-Villel, Director of the Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid. The exhibition is organized by the Met, and the Museo Nacional Central de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, in collaboration with the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi.

diane arbus: in the beginning
July 11, 2016 – November 27, 2016

Spotlighting the rarely seen early work of Diane Arbus (1923-71), this exhibition explores the genesis of one of the most influential and controversial artists of the 20th century. The show focuses on Arbus’s first seven years working with the camera on the streets of New York City (1956-62), a dramatic era in American history and the period when the artist developed her idiosyncratic style and subject matter soon recognized, praised, criticized, and copied the world over.

The majority of the photographs will be drawn from the Met’s vast Diane Arbus Archive acquired in 2007 by gift and promised gift from the artist’s estate. More than half of the photographs have never been previously exhibited, or published, offering general visitors and scholars alike an unparalleled opportunity to see the formative work of this evocative and haunting artist.

diane arbus: in the beginning is curated by Jeff L. Rosenheim, Curator in Charge of the Met’s Department of Photographs. It will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press.

Kerry James Marshall
October 25, 2016 – January 22, 2017

Marking the artist’s largest museum exhibition to date, this retrospective of paintings by Kerry James Marshall (b. 1955, Birmingham, Alabama) spans the artist’s remarkable 35-year career, revealing the complex and compelling creative output of one of today’s most important living artists.

Marshall is a history painter whose work reflects and challenges the time and culture he inhabits. Driven by an examination of the historical dearth and relatively recent appearance of the black figure in the history of Western painting, he is immersed in the past and present of painting—particularly the century-long conflict between figuration and abstraction.  He is also committed to a vision of American history that represents the narratives—triumphs and failures both—of individual African Americans as well as the concept of blackness as a whole.  In the grand scale of the Old Masters, Marshall creates works that engage with themes of visibility and invisibility, portraiture and self-portraiture, religious iconography, the politics of Pan-Africanism and black militancy, and the ethics of painting. 

The exhibition is co-curated by Ian Alteveer, Associate Curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Met; Helen Molesworth, Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Dieter Roelstraete, former Manilow Senior Curator, and Abigail Winograd, Research Associate, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

It is co-organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, where it debuts in April 2016, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. It will be accompanied by a comprehensive and fully illustrated catalogue with essays by the curators, published by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

Spring 2016 Performance at The Met Breuer

Artist in Residence Vijay Iyer

The Met’s 2015-16 Artist in Residence, Vijay Iyer, will occupy The Met Breuer’s Lobby Gallery in March 2016. For this residency, Iyer will inhabit the gallery creatively, bringing his encyclopedic breadth of artistic practice to a residency, redefined. While installed there for 18 days, Iyer will highlight his full body of work with performances, continuously, all day throughout Museum hours. He will perform solo, with other musicians, dancers, and poets, and will also curate performances by fellow musicians and performers. Additionally Iyer will create sound installations specifically for the space, resulting in full-day performance experiences.

Vijay Iyer has also been commissioned by the Met to create a new piece specifically to resonate with and accompany the Nasreen Mohamedi exhibition. This work will be presented in The Met Breuer’s second-floor gallery. Throughout the spring season, Iyer will collaborate with performance artists including Wadada Leo Smith, Kyle Abraham, Miranda Cuckson, Okkyung Lee, Michelle Boulé, Tyshawn Sorey, and Jen Shyu. Program details will be announced at a later date.

Soundwalk 9:09 by John Luther Adams
Launch date: March 2016

Commissioned in celebration of the launch of The Met Breuer, the aptly titled Soundwalk 9:09 by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams is nine minutes and nine seconds in duration, the time it takes to walk between the Met’s building at Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street, and The Met Breuer at Madison Avenue and 75th Street. The composition will be offered online and as a downloadable podcast at It will include sounds recorded by the composer as well as around 100 more selected by him from submissions online, offering listeners a unique sonic experience. Details on how to submit sounds for possible inclusion in the final composition may be found at and at Q2 Music’s website (!/series/q2).

Klang by Karlheinz Stockhausen
U.S. Premiere

March 26, 2016

Karlheinz Stockhausen’s fiercely original Klang (meaning “sound” in German) is an acoustic and electronic work so massive that it requires all day and all three of the Met’s iconic buildings to stage. This 21-part, unfinished composition was originally envisioned by Stockhausen as consisting of 24 individual compositions (one for each hour of the day), but the work was left unfinished at the time of his death. This performance will mark the U.S. premiere of Klang in its entirety, and will be performed at the Metropolitan Museum’s Fifth Avenue building, The Met Breuer, and The Cloisters museum and gardens. More details will follow.

About The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world’s leading art museums, with a collection spanning more than 5,000 years of world culture, from prehistory to the present. It presents dozens of exhibitions each year, and thousands of events and programs including films, talks, performance, guided tours, and family programs. A center for art appreciation, scholarship, research, and conservation, the Met also maintains a vibrant program of publishing scholarly and popular catalogues, and utilizes new technologies to enhance the visitor experience and extend the reach and accessibility of its offerings globally.

In addition to its main building at Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street, the Met is launching its modern and contemporary art-themed programming at The Met Breuer in spring 2016, and continues to present exhibitions and collection displays related to the art and architecture of the medieval world at The Cloisters museum and gardens, its branch in upper Manhattan.

The Met Breuer is featured on the museum’s website at as well as on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter via the hashtag #MetBreuer.

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Elyse Topalian or Alexandra Kozlakowski, Communications, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 212-570-3951,

Juliet Sorce, Resnicow + Associates,, 212-671-5158

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April 8, 2015

Photo by Ed Lederman.

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