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, March 13, 2015
"[Traylor] was beautiful to see—so right with himself and at peace—as the rich imagery of his long life welled up into his drawings and paintings."
—Charles Shannon, 1985
A few weeks ago in gallery 749—where we've been featuring a range of nineteenth-century American folk art—we installed eight drawings from the late 1930s by the acclaimed pioneer of so-called outsider art, Bill Traylor (1853/54–1949). This is the first time in twenty years that these works have been seen at the Met—and the very first in The American Wing.
Posted: Friday, January 30, 2015
Thomas Hart Benton's America Today Mural Rediscovered is a bold exhibition. The imagery on the ten canvas panels begs for surround sound. The husky black train barrels forward, its smokestack billows, and its whistle shouts, "Woo-woo!" The airplane's propellers whir. And women in provocative, swishy dresses dance to popular jazz songs of the 1920s. (Twerking's got nothing on these gals.)
Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014
The current exhibition Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions, 2003–2014 features a magnificent and historically important sword that was presented to the Revolutionary War hero Colonel Marinus Willett (1740–1830). In about 1791, American artist Ralph Earl (1751–1801) painted a full-length portrait of Willett (currently hanging in gallery 753 in The American Wing) that commemorates his extraordinary service during the War. Earl made a point of including a detailed rendition of the sword, which is shown hanging from Willett's waist.
Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Happy Thanksgiving from Teen Programs at the Met! There are a number of artworks in the Museum that depict this time of year; one example is this painting by Anna Mary Robertson Moses, better known as Grandma Moses. The people in this rural scene are preparing for Thanksgiving by catching a turkey. Their energy while chasing the turkeys and their brightly colored jackets add warmth to this charming scene. This family's Thanksgiving preparations are a reminder of our own holiday traditions.
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.
Posted: Friday, July 25, 2014
As I travel through the galleries of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one question always lingers in my mind: If these inanimate objects were able to speak, what would they say? I have taken on the task of "interviewing" three sculptures to break their silence and give us more insight into their lives and stories.
Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2014
The special exhibition The American West in Bronze, 1850–1925 closed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Sunday, April 13. Nearly one thousand people visited the galleries on the last day, bringing the total number of visitors to over 108,000 people since the exhibition opened on December 18, 2013. For the next few days, we will be working closely with art handlers, registrars, and conservators to see that the sixty-five sculptures and three paintings are safely de-installed and packed for transport, most of them to the exhibition's second venue at the Denver Art Museum, where it will be on view May 11 through August 31, 2014. The post-closing period also involves thanking lenders and sponsors; sorting out research used for the exhibition and its accompanying catalogue; and writing final reports. I look forward to traveling to Nanjing, China, for the September 29 opening of the exhibition at its third venue, the Nanjing Museum, where it will remain on view through January 18, 2015. Meanwhile, back here at the Met, we will be shifting gears from western bronze sculpture to Rediscovering Thomas Hart Benton's America Today Mural, which will open September 30, 2014.
Posted: Wednesday, April 9, 2014
This Sunday, April 13, is the final day to see The American West in Bronze, 1850–1925 at the Met. After the show closes in New York, it will travel to its second venue, opening at the Denver Art Museum on Sunday, May 11. Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountain region, Denver is an opportune setting for an exhibition of western bronzes. The Denver Art Museum is also home to the Petrie Institute of Western American Art, founded in 2001 and dedicated to promoting the significance of the West in American art and culture. Denver thus provides a new geographic and intellectual context for The American West in Bronze, 1850–1925.
Posted: Monday, March 31, 2014
On April 22, 1930, Bryant Baker's seventeen-foot bronze statue Pioneer Woman was unveiled in Ponca City, Oklahoma, before a crowd of forty thousand spectators. At the dedication ceremony, patron Ernest W. Marland—oil man, philanthropist, and the tenth governor of Oklahoma—described the commission: "We have erected monuments to our war heroes, to the hearty pioneers who wrested from the wilderness, from the plains and from the desert this nation of ours, but have we preserved the memory of the women…who married their men and set out with them on their conquest of the west, faced with them the months of arduous toil and terrible dangers?…With this monument I hope to preserve for the children of our children the story of our mothers' fight and toil and courage."
Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014
The sculpture Pioneer Woman in the current exhibition The American West in Bronze, 1850–1925 caught my attention because it depicts a woman. Before you roll your eyes and claim that I am stating the obvious, bear with me! The field of American Western art is dominated by renditions of men and animals, so Bryant Baker's sculpture offers a unique approach to capturing the West. The very fact that Pioneer Woman focuses on a pioneer woman makes it noteworthy, but the meaning of the work is more elusive than just its subject matter.