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Now at the Met

Looking Closely: An Unexpected Discovery in the Islamic Collection

Fatima Quraishi, 2014–15 Hagop Kevorkian Fellow, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Wednesday, December 3, 2014

As a new curatorial research fellow in the Department of Islamic Art, I am becoming acquainted with many different aspects of museum life such as museum education and exhibition practices, but I spend most of my time researching our rich collection of Islamic art objects. I've recently been examining a large group of wooden panel pieces, many of which were parts of minbars (pulpits) in mosques in Egypt during the Mamluk period (1250–1517)—some of these are on display in gallery 454. In this group, I came across a rectangular panel (shown above) that is inlaid with carved ivory and bears an inscription in Arabic.

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Reinventing an American Brand: A Poster Competition at LIFE Magazine

Freyda Spira, Associate Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints

Posted: Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Given to the Museum in 1965 by LIFE magazine's creative director of general promotion, Jay W. Cheek, these posters—on view in the current installation in gallery 690 through December 8—were made as part of a campaign for the Pacific Northwest called "Signs of Adolescence."

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Interview with Dita Amory, Curator and Co-author of Madame Cézanne

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Monday, December 1, 2014

Paul Cézanne is central to the study of modern art, yet one of his most frequently painted subjects, his wife, Hortense Fiquet, is often neglected in the scholarship on the artist. If she is mentioned at all, Hortense is described as ill-humored and as a negative influence on Cézanne's painting. Madame Cézanne, the catalogue accompanying the eponymous exhibition currently on view through March 15, 2015, aims to reevaluate these perceptions of Hortense. I sat down with Dita Amory, curator of the exhibition and co-author of the catalogue, to discuss the book and the complicated, enigmatic relationship between Cézanne and his wife.

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A Ninth-Century Miss Manners: Dining Etiquette in Abbasid Iraq

Julia Cohen, Research Assistant, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2014

With the weather getting colder and Thanksgiving now upon us, my mind has turned to food. Hearty soups, roasted vegetables, and freshly baked bread warm my spirits during the winter months, and there is little I enjoy more than inviting friends and family to join me for meals.

Food and drink are central to celebrations throughout the world, and objects in the Islamic Art collection can tell us so much about people's lives. The tradition of feasting to commemorate important events dates back to pre-Islamic times, both in the Middle East and the rest of the world. The Islamic galleries are filled with serving dishes, storage jars, and drinking vessels that provide a window into the everyday life and celebrations of the many Islamic dynasties represented here.

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A Rare Opportunity to See the Genius of Ancient Chinese Bronze Casters

Zhixin Jason Sun, Curator, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A cast-bronze buffalo from the Shanghai Museum is now on view in the exhibition Innovation and Spectacle: Chinese Ritual Bronzes (through March 22, 2015). This fantastic animal-shaped vessel once served as a wine warmer in sacrificial rituals in the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 b.c.).

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The Jabach Portrait: A Change of Plan

Michael Gallagher, Sherman Fairchild Conservator in Charge, Department of Paintings Conservation

Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2014

One thing you learn quickly in conservation is that the objects under your care make the rules! Frequently, well-thought-through plans or strategies for approaches to treatment have to be tweaked or completely rethought.

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The Arts of a Mesoamerican Metropolis, Here at the Met

James Doyle, Assistant Curator, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sergio Gomez and a team of investigators under the Feathered Serpent Pyramid at the site of Teotihuacan—one of the largest and most elaborate pyramids of the ancient world—are exploring a recently discovered man-made tunnel that passes under the east-west axis of the building, and have already uncovered rich dedicatory offerings using unmanned vehicles and controlled excavations (fig. 1). Teotihuacan is remarkable for the scale and elaboration of its architecture, the well-organized grid on which the city was planned, and an artistic tradition that included stone sculpture, mural painting, and pottery. The city's residents lived in complex apartment compounds from the late first millennium b.c. to the mid-seventh century a.d., suggesting a relatively stable social structure unlike that of other cities in the ancient New World. There were even neighborhoods of foreigners who continued their local traditions in distinct "barrios" of the city. A truly cosmopolitan place, Teotihuacan was the Manhattan of its time—a hub of activity and a destination for those from far away.

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Former Incarnations: The Secret Lives of Objects in Treasures from India

Courtney A. Stewart, Senior Research Assistant, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Works of art at the Met are often presented in isolation to give the viewer an opportunity to examine them closely and appreciate their artistic merit, fine craftsmanship, use of materials, and other details. Because of these objects' (near) impeccable state when exhibited, I sometimes forget they have lived entire lives before arriving at the Museum and often have passed through many hands and traveled long distances. Indeed, the life of an object is so much richer, more complicated, and more convoluted than its shining presence in a display case can convey.

While researching the objects selected for the exhibition Treasures from India: Jewels from The Al-Thani Collection (on view through January 25, 2015), I was continually inspired by these histories and fascinated by the winding paths these works had taken before their arrival in our galleries.

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Celebrating #NetsukeNovember on Twitter

Anabelle Gambert-Jouan, Graduate Intern, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Monday, November 17, 2014

The Metropolitan Museum of Art boasts a collection of almost one thousand netsuke, with a particular emphasis on works from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In addition to the selection currently displayed in the exhibition Kimono: A Modern History, on view September 27, 2014–January 19, 2015, daily netsuke posts can also be seen on the Museum's Twitter account throughout the month of November as part of the campaign #NetsukeNovember.

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Waves, Waterfalls, and Whirling Water on Japanese Kimono

Monika Bincsik, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow, Department of Asian Art

Posted: Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The way that kimonos are used and the types of designs to decorate them have shifted dramatically over the last 150 years, shaped by the dialogue of Japanese traditional craft art with modern inventions and Western ideas. As shown in a selection of objects currently found in the exhibition Kimono: A Modern History, on view through January 19, 2015, we can follow this narrative of cultural interaction by focusing on the depiction of water motifs used on kimono.

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Conservation Through a Gamer's Eye

Ashira Loike, Assistant Administrator, Department of Objects Conservation; and Beth Edelstein, Associate Conservator, Department of Objects Conservation

Posted: Monday, November 10, 2014

What happens when gaming students are let loose on the Met's collection? We found our answer to this question this past spring when staff from the Sherman Fairchild Center for Objects Conservation collaborated with a group of intrepid and creative students at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). The students were supervised by their professor, Elizabeth Goins, in a course titled "Interactive Design for Museums," part of RIT's Museum Games & Technology Initiative. The students were tasked with communicating the inside information conservators gather from studying the materials and techniques of works of art through a fun and engaging game aimed at general audiences.

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A First Look at Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions 2003–2014

Donald J. La Rocca, Curator, Department of Arms and Armor

Posted: Monday, November 10, 2014

In the exhibition Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions, 2003–2014, on view from November 11, 2014, through December 6, 2015, the Department of Arms and Armor is reflecting on its recent growth and development. Between 2003 and 2014, about three hundred objects were added to the collection, many of which have been put on permanent display in the Arms and Armor galleries; the exhibition highlights about forty other acquisitions from this period that, for the most part, are unpublished and have never before been on display.

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Drawings and Prints: A Dialogue

Perrin Stein, Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints

Posted: Friday, November 7, 2014

Did you know that until 1992, Drawings and Prints were two separate departments within the Museum? Behind the scenes, there are many physical reminders of this earlier era, including separate storerooms, separate study rooms, and staff offices spread over two floors. However, both in the public galleries as well as conceptually, these two areas of the collection are now wholly integrated, allowing for a richer understanding of how works on paper were made and used.

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The Latest on the Jabach Portrait: What, No Frame?

Keith Christiansen, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman, Department of European Paintings

Posted: Thursday, November 6, 2014

That's right; our newly acquired Jabach portrait arrived at the Museum with no frame. When I inquired about the omission, I was told that the frame it had had in London was not worth sending over. Besides, that frame no longer fit the picture, since it had been made when the top of the canvas was folded over. (See "The Jabach Conservation Continued: Next Steps" for more on the fold in the canvas.)

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Cowboys in China: The American West in Bronze, 1850–1925 at the Nanjing Museum

Thayer Tolles, Marica F. Vilcek Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, The American Wing

Posted: Friday, October 31, 2014

After the exhibition The American West in Bronze, 1850–1925 closed at the Met on April 13, 2014, it traveled to the Denver Art Museum, where it was on view through August 31. While Colorado is located in the heart of the American West, the show's current venue, the Nanjing Museum in China, represents an exciting new frontier for these sculptures. This is certainly not the first exhibition of American art to travel to China, but it is the first focused on bronze statuettes—including forty-four works by twenty-two artists, with the roster of lenders comprising public and private collections in and around New York and Denver. Although fewer objects are included in the Nanjing Museum presentation than in either the New York or Denver venues, the organizing structure remains the same: Old West themes representing American Indians, cowboys and settlers, and animals of the plains and mountains.

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New MetPublications: Summer/Fall 2014

Mark Polizzotti, Publisher and Editor in Chief, Editorial Department

Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Museum's Editorial Department presents this season's new titles that celebrate the Met's collection and special exhibitions. The following are eight spectacular publications, just off the presses.

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"Please Lie Down; This Won't Hurt a Bit": The Jabach Conservation Continues

Michael Gallagher, Sherman Fairchild Conservator in Charge, Department of Paintings Conservation

Posted: Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Now that I've finished the cleaning of the Jabach portrait, it is time to deal with the distortion resulting from the top of the picture having been folded over (as described in my last post). We first had to construct a platform on which to lay the picture face down while working on the reverse side of the canvas. This was custom built by our structural specialist, George Bisacca.

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Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry—Interview with Author Elizabeth Cleland

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A tapestry designer, painter, draftsman, and publisher of architectural treatises, Pieter Coecke van Aelst was quite literally a Renaissance man. Though he was a master of many media while active from the 1520s until his death in 1550, his contributions have been largely forgotten today. Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry, the catalogue accompanying the exhibition currently on view through January 11, 2015, covers much more than just the artist's tapestries and aims to fill the nearly fifty-year gap in the literature on this great artist. I spoke with the catalogue's author, Associate Curator Elizabeth A. H. Cleland, about the book, her interest in Coecke, and why she thinks this Northern Renaissance master has been neglected in recent scholarship.

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Teens Take the Met!

Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chairman of Education

Posted: Friday, October 10, 2014

The Met is known by most for its monumental building, its extraordinary and massive collection of works of art, and its incredible team of curators. But on the evening of Friday, October 17, the Met will take on an entirely different identity as a super-cool destination for teens with its first-ever teen night, affectionately dubbed Teens Take the Met.

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A Recent Gift of Delacroix Drawings Highlighted in New Gallery Rotation

Cora Michael, Associate Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints

Posted: Thursday, October 9, 2014

A selection of ten drawings by Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798–1863) is now on view in the Robert Wood Johnson Jr. Gallery. The display features several highlights from a recent gift of forty-three Delacroix drawings from the collection of Mrs. Karen B. Cohen that focus on the artist's Moroccan subjects. Many of these works were inspired by Delacroix's journey to North Africa in 1832—including studies related to his painting of The Sultan of Morocco and His Entourage, animal drawings such as a ferocious tiger, and figure studies of Arab peoples and costumes.

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Now at the Met offers in-depth articles and multimedia features about the Museum's current exhibitions, events, research, announcements, behind-the-scenes activities, and more.