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The American Wing


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.

Sargent Exhibition Blog

Sargent and Saint-Gaudens

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

Posted: Friday, July 31, 2015

Who is the fidgety boy who commands our gaze midway through Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends? He's Homer Saint-Gaudens (1880–1958), ten-year-old son of the eminent American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848–1907). Titled Portrait of a Boy (Homer Saint-Gaudens and his Mother), the canvas is ostensibly a likeness of Homer, with his mother, Augusta (1848–1926), relegated to the shadowy background.

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Now at the Met

Art and Life in Thomas Hart Benton's America Today, with Randall Griffey

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

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.

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Sargent Exhibition Blog

On the Audio Guide: Artist Katy Grannan

Ian Alteveer, Associate Curator, Department of Modern and Contemporary Art

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.

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Sargent Exhibition Blog

Sargent and the Met: In the Reading Room

Stephanie L. Herdrich, Assistant Research Curator, The American Wing

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.

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Sargent Exhibition Blog

Where Is Madame X?

Stephanie L. Herdrich, Assistant Research Curator, The American Wing

Posted: Tuesday, July 7, 2015

John Singer Sargent's Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau) is an icon of the Met's collection. Each year, visitors flock to The American Wing to muse on the eccentric glamour of this bold portrait featuring the American wife of a French banker. Ordinarily we think Madame X looks quite splendid in gallery 771, where she is seen with other grand-manner portraits of the period. Surrounded by Sargent's portraits of the Wyndham sisters and Mr. and Mrs. I. N. Phelps Stokes, Gautreau appears quite distinct from the elegant high-society portraits.

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Sargent Exhibition Blog

Welcome to Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends

Stephanie L. Herdrich, Assistant Research Curator, The American Wing

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.

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In Circulation

From Pyramids to Spectres: A Look at the Met's "Cinema Films"

William Blueher, Metadata and Collections Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library

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.

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Now at the Met

The Ashcan School, The Eight, and the New York Art World

Sylvia Yount, Lawrence A. Fleischman Curator in Charge, The American Wing

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.

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Digital Underground

Paintings Uncovered

Betty Quinn, Former MediaLab Intern, Digital Media

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.

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Met Museum Presents Blog

The Civilians Explore The American Wing in The Way They Live

Micharne Cloughley, Writer in Residence, The Civilians

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.

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