Ever since its establishment in 1870 the Museum has acquired important examples of American Art. A separate "American Wing" building to display the domestic arts of the seventeenth–early nineteenth centuries opened in 1924; paintings galleries and an enclosed sculpture court were added in 1980.
Posted: Friday, July 31, 2015
Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Missouri native Thomas Hart Benton is often recognized as the leader of Regionalism, the 1930s artistic movement that celebrated rural life in the United States, but few know that New York was his home from 1912 to 1935. In 1930, he received his first major commission for a mural from the New School of Social Research. Called America Today, that mural is the subject of The Metropolitan Museum of Art's latest Bulletin, published to accompany the acquisition of the mural as a gift from AXA in November 2012 and its installation at the Met.
Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Artists often tell us that the Met is their favorite museum to visit, and their comments on works in the collection are among the most insightful one can hear (see, for instance, the fantastic results of The Artist Project, where a hundred artists respond to objects in the Museum's galleries are being assembled—forty episodes are already up). I was thrilled, then, when my colleagues Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser and Stephanie Herdrich asked for my advice last January about living artists they might approach to contribute to the Audio Guide for Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends. I agreed with them that an artist's voice, particularly in the context of an exhibition of a painter's portraits of his friends and acquaintances, would be vital and exciting.
Posted: Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Visitors to Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends will notice a special feature in the exhibition's reading room: an installation of twenty-one drawings and watercolors by John Singer Sargent from the Metropolitan Museum's extensive holdings. Chosen to complement the themes of the exhibition, these works represent the wide range of Sargent's efforts on paper. They reveal his technical brilliance as a watercolorist and draftsman, the diversity of his oeuvre during more candid moments, and his sensuous appreciation of the human figure—especially that of the male.
Posted: Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Posted: Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Welcome to the blog for Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends, on view through October 4, 2015. In weekly posts throughout the run of the exhibition, we'll look more closely at the life and work of John Singer Sargent, explore some of the themes of the exhibition in depth, and take a look behind the scenes at how the show came together. You'll hear from me and other colleagues in The American Wing and throughout the Museum. I will be moderating the blog and look forward to your comments.
Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2015
In 2013 I wrote about a 1929 Met catalogue entitled Cinema Films: A List of the Films and the Conditions under which They Are Rented, a collection of educational "cinema films" that the Met used to rent out to various schools and cultural institutions in the New York City area. The films range from straightforward informational ones, like Pyramids and Temples of Ancient Egypt, to the patently bizarre, like The Spectre—a "Colonial fantasy" about "a malign apparition which appears to the superstitious eyes of a seventeenth-century New England family." The still from the catalogue (above), which shows a maniacally grinning man in a ten-gallon hat floating in front of shadowy latticed windows, is of this malign apparition, a character that would not seem at all out of place in a David Lynch film. Like all of these films, the majority of The Spectre was shot on-site at the Met.
Posted: Tuesday, May 26, 2015
There's something new to see in gallery 772: a more expansive look at the work of the early-twentieth-century urban realists known as the Ashcan School. Robert Henri, William Glackens, George Luks, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan explored many dimensions of modern life in paintings, drawings, and prints, and now—for the first time in The American Wing—you can see their work across various media in one gallery.
Posted: Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Paintings Uncovered is an interactive interface that allows users to explore the hidden layers found beneath a painting's surface. Painters frequently paint over paintings for various reasons—even sometimes with a completely different subject. One reason for this may be that the original painting didn't sell, so the artist reused the canvas to create an entirely new painting. Examining the underlying surfaces of paintings through powerful technology provides valuable information about the artworks.
Posted: Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Even during a casual stroll through The American Wing, the volume of stories, history, and historical context of the artworks found in this department's collection is staggering. Encompassing art from the seventeenth century through to the 1930s, and across the mediums of painting, sculpture, decorative arts, and period rooms, there are thousands of potential plays that could come from these galleries.
As a theater company, The Civilians creates work from a central investigation, often through conducting interviews. For the final performance of our Met residency, The Way They Live, premiering May 15 and 16 in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, we were invited to explore The American Wing. This meant we could turn those casual strolls through the Met's American Wing into interviews held with both the staff and the public, which would then be brought together to create a broader conversation between present-day America and the artworks. There were many compelling questions that could guide this conversation between the people who fill the Museum and the art itself, but the most obvious question was also the strongest—we wanted to talk about what it means to be American.