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: 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.
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.