Escape

Curator of drawings and prints Cora Michael on the many avenues of escape to be found within the Met.

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When I moved to New York, the first year was pretty rough, I felt like the city was kind of beating me up on a daily basis.

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  • Cora Michael
    1280852
  • Concord  |  1949  |  Barnett Newman (American)  |  Oil and masking tape on canvas  |  George A. Hearn Fund, 1968 (68.178)  |  © 2011 The Barnett Newman Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    6571024
  • Daphne Flees Apollo and is Transformed into a Laurel from The Story of Apollo and Daphne  |  n.d.  |  Master of the Die (Italian); Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi (Italian)  |  Engraving  |  The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1949 (49.97.325)
    7981024
  • Still from an Untitled Film  |  1978  |  Cindy Sherman (American)  |  Gelatin silver print  |  Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1992 (1992.5147)  |  © Cindy Sherman
    12801007
  • The Astor Court  |  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    1280947
  • The Astor Court  |  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    8051024
  • The Astor Court  |  The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    1280953
  • Children on Fire Escape  |  1938, printed ca. 1983  |  Weegee (American, born Hungary); printed by Sid Kaplan  |  Gelatin silver print  |  Gift of Aaron and Jessica Rose, 1983 (1983.1130.35)  |  © Weegee / International Center of Photography
    12771024
  • Children on Fire Escape  |  1938, printed ca. 1983  |  Weegee (American, born Hungary); printed by Sid Kaplan  |  Gelatin silver print  |  Gift of Aaron and Jessica Rose, 1983 (1983.1130.35)  |  © Weegee / International Center of Photography
    1280968
  • Armor  |  1891  |  Odilon Redon (French)  |  Charcoal and conté crayon  |  Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1948 (48.10.1)
    7441024
  • Hallucinations  |  n.d.  |  Odilon Redon (French)  |  Charcoal on tan paper  |  Bequest of Scofield Thayer, 1982 (1984.433.285)
    8211024
  • Ia Orana Maria (Hail Mary)  |  1891  |  Paul Gauguin (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Signed, dated, and inscribed: (lower right) P Gauguin 91; (lower left) IA ORANA MARIA (Hail Mary)  |  Bequest of Sam A. Lewisohn, 1951 (51.112.2)
    8061024
  • Two Tahitian Women  |  1899  |  Paul Gauguin (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Gift of William Church Osborn, 1949 (49.58.1)
    7921024
  • "Smiling Figure"  |  7th–8th century  |  Mexico, Remojadas  |  Ceramic  |  The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.1211)
    8711024
  • You Will Not Escape (No te escaparas): Plate 72 of The Caprices (Los Caprichos)  |  1799  |  Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish)  |  Etching and burnished aquatint on laid paper  |  Gift of M. Knoedler & Co., 1918 (18.64)
    7551024
  • No. 13 (White, Red, on Yellow)  |  1958  |  Mark Rothko (American, born Russia)  |  Oil and acrylic with powdered pigments on canvas  |  Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation Inc., 1985 (1985.63.5)  |  © 2011 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    8731024
  • Architectural elements from North Family Dwelling, New Lebanon, New York  |  ca. 1830–40  |  New Lebanon, New York  |  American  |  Wood  |  Purchase, 1972 (1972.187.1)
    12801017
  • Architectural elements from North Family Dwelling, New Lebanon, New York  |  ca. 1830–40  |  New Lebanon, New York  |  American  |  Wood  |  Purchase, 1972 (1972.187.1)
    8221024
  • Architectural elements from North Family Dwelling, New Lebanon, New York  |  ca. 1830–40  |  New Lebanon, New York  |  American  |  Wood  |  Purchase, 1972 (1972.187.1)
    12801020
  • Architectural elements from North Family Dwelling, New Lebanon, New York  |  ca. 1830–40  |  New Lebanon, New York  |  American  |  Wood  |  Purchase, 1972 (1972.187.1)
    8181024
  • [Fashion Study of a Woman in Black Hat and Dress]  |  ca. 1950  |  George Platt Lynes (American)  |  Gelatin silver print  |  Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Russell Lynes, 1983 (1983.1160.2)  |  © 2010 Estate of George Platt Lynes
    8291024
  • Just Moved  |  1870  |  Henry Mosler (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1962 (62.80)
    12691024
  • Cora Michael
    1280852
  • My name is Cora Michael, I'm a curator in the department of drawings and prints. I'm gonna be talking about "Escape."

  • Escape as an experience, an experience of looking at art

  • but also as a story that art can tell. When I moved to

  • New York, the first year was pretty rough, I felt like the city was kind of beating me up on a daily basis. I had a crazy roommate with a crazy pitbull. I got flashed on the subway. I had a horrible first job. And my mother told me about

  • a book, A Hundred Escapes in New York City. And one of the things

  • it mentioned was the Chinese moon-viewing garden. I used to come and calm myself down

  • from the chaos of what my life was at that time. Summers in the city

  • can be brutally hot. My husband grew up in New York and he remembers as a child sleeping on the fire escape, which is such a romantic notion to me. There's something very sweet the way they're all huddled together, and one of the girls actually is

  • cradling a kitten, but it's also gritty. I love that combination of sweetness and grittiness. For Redon and the

  • Symbolists, I think the idea of escape is kind of central. They start to look to dreams, memory, the imagination, kind of the interior world.

  • There's this severed head floating above the earth towards this higher realm, this higher plane of experience. Paul Gauguin

  • is more literal, he did escape. He was a banker, a married man with children, and then discovered art. He was searching for an authentic, artistic life. Even though he was actually there under the auspices of the French colonial government.

  • But he really, truly felt that he had to turn his back on quote unquote civilized society.

  • An amazing little smiling figure. One of the theories about its meaning, is that it may relate to rituals where intoxication took place, they would drink this fermented liquid. It may have had something to do with shamanism, and the whole idea of transcending everyday life to attain a higher spiritual consciousness.

  • You Will Not Escape I've interpreted as being about how you can never escape yourself. If your demons are inside you, it's impossible to escape.

  • The Abstract Expressionists were really about the spiritual experience of art. Mark Rothko thought that the ideal viewing experience was eighteen inches away from the canvas. When you stand that close, it overtakes you, the color pulsates and glows and you really do kind of feel it washing over you.

  • One of my favorite places to go is the Shaker room, because it's purifying. I feel cleansed.

  • I admire the Shakers in a lot of ways maybe except for the celibacy, but

  • I feel like when I go to the Shaker room I'm inspired to be a better person, to clear my life of clutter and to be frugal and

  • honest and hardworking and god loving and all those good honorable things. One time I was on a plane and an Orthodox Jewish man sat next to me and

  • I was reading a big, fat issue of Vogue. And he said, "Why do you read that?" And I said, "Escape." And he said

  • "Marriage is escape." And I thought, "Okay?" But I wasn't married, it didn't really mean anything to me, but now that I'm happily married I can understand what he meant. Because it's like a shelter from the harsh world

  • so I think that's what he meant.

  • 68.178
    Concord, 1949, Barnett Newman (American), Oil and masking tape on canvas George A. Hearn Fund, 1968 (68.178) © 2011 The Barnett Newman Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • 49.97.325
    Daphne Flees Apollo and is Transformed into a Laurel from The Story of Apollo and Daphne, n.d., Master of the Die (Italian); Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi (Italian), Engraving The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1949 (49.97.325)
  • 1992.5147
    Still from an Untitled Film, 1978, Cindy Sherman (American), Gelatin silver print Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1992 (1992.5147) © Cindy Sherman
  • 1983.1130.35
    Children on Fire Escape, 1938, printed ca. 1983, Weegee (American, born Hungary); printed by Sid Kaplan, Gelatin silver print Gift of Aaron and Jessica Rose, 1983 (1983.1130.35) © Weegee / International Center of Photography
  • 48.10.1
    Armor, 1891, Odilon Redon (French), Charcoal and conté crayon Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1948 (48.10.1)
  • 1984.433.285
    Hallucinations, n.d., Odilon Redon (French), Charcoal on tan paper Bequest of Scofield Thayer, 1982 (1984.433.285)
  • 51.112.2
    Ia Orana Maria (Hail Mary), 1891, Paul Gauguin (French), Oil on canvas, Signed, dated, and inscribed: (lower right) P Gauguin 91; (lower left) IA ORANA MARIA (Hail Mary) Bequest of Sam A. Lewisohn, 1951 (51.112.2)
  • 49.58.1
    Two Tahitian Women, 1899, Paul Gauguin (French), Oil on canvas Gift of William Church Osborn, 1949 (49.58.1)
  • 1979.206.1211
    "Smiling Figure", 7th–8th century, Mexico, Remojadas, Ceramic The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.1211)
  • 18.64.72
    You Will Not Escape (No te escaparas): Plate 72 of The Caprices (Los Caprichos), 1799, Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish), Etching and burnished aquatint on laid paper Gift of M. Knoedler & Co., 1918 (18.64)
  • 1985.63.5
    No. 13 (White, Red, on Yellow), 1958, Mark Rothko (American, born Russia), Oil and acrylic with powdered pigments on canvas Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation Inc., 1985 (1985.63.5) © 2011 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • 1972.187.1
    Architectural elements from North Family Dwelling, New Lebanon, New York, ca. 1830–40, New Lebanon, New York, American, Wood Purchase, 1972 (1972.187.1)
  • 1983.1160.2
    [Fashion Study of a Woman in Black Hat and Dress], ca. 1950, George Platt Lynes (American), Gelatin silver print Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Russell Lynes, 1983 (1983.1160.2) © 2010 Estate of George Platt Lynes
  • 62.80
    Just Moved, 1870, Henry Mosler (American), Oil on canvas Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1962 (62.80)
  • Concord, 1949, Barnett Newman (American), Oil and masking tape on canvas George A. Hearn Fund, 1968 (68.178) © 2011 The Barnett Newman Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    Daphne Flees Apollo and is Transformed into a Laurel from The Story of Apollo and Daphne, n.d., Master of the Die (Italian); Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi (Italian), Engraving The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1949 (49.97.325)
    Still from an Untitled Film, 1978, Cindy Sherman (American), Gelatin silver print Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1992 (1992.5147) © Cindy Sherman
    Children on Fire Escape, 1938, printed ca. 1983, Weegee (American, born Hungary); printed by Sid Kaplan, Gelatin silver print Gift of Aaron and Jessica Rose, 1983 (1983.1130.35) © Weegee / International Center of Photography
    Armor, 1891, Odilon Redon (French), Charcoal and conté crayon Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1948 (48.10.1)
    Hallucinations, n.d., Odilon Redon (French), Charcoal on tan paper Bequest of Scofield Thayer, 1982 (1984.433.285)
    Ia Orana Maria (Hail Mary), 1891, Paul Gauguin (French), Oil on canvas, Signed, dated, and inscribed: (lower right) P Gauguin 91; (lower left) IA ORANA MARIA (Hail Mary) Bequest of Sam A. Lewisohn, 1951 (51.112.2)
    Two Tahitian Women, 1899, Paul Gauguin (French), Oil on canvas Gift of William Church Osborn, 1949 (49.58.1)
    "Smiling Figure", 7th–8th century, Mexico, Remojadas, Ceramic The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.1211)
    You Will Not Escape (No te escaparas): Plate 72 of The Caprices (Los Caprichos), 1799, Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish), Etching and burnished aquatint on laid paper Gift of M. Knoedler & Co., 1918 (18.64)
    No. 13 (White, Red, on Yellow), 1958, Mark Rothko (American, born Russia), Oil and acrylic with powdered pigments on canvas Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation Inc., 1985 (1985.63.5) © 2011 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    Architectural elements from North Family Dwelling, New Lebanon, New York, ca. 1830–40, New Lebanon, New York, American, Wood Purchase, 1972 (1972.187.1)
    [Fashion Study of a Woman in Black Hat and Dress], ca. 1950, George Platt Lynes (American), Gelatin silver print Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Russell Lynes, 1983 (1983.1160.2) © 2010 Estate of George Platt Lynes
    Just Moved, 1870, Henry Mosler (American), Oil on canvas Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1962 (62.80)
    8000–2000 B.C.
    2000–1000 B.C.
    1000 B.C.–1 A.D.
    1–500 A.D.
    500–1000 A.D.
    1000–1400 A.D.
    1400–1600 A.D.
    1600–1800 A.D.
    1800–1900 A.D.
    1900–Present

    Works of art in order of appearance

    Last Updated: August 19, 2013. Not all works of art in the Museum's collection may be on view on a particular day. For the most accurate location information, please check this page on the day of your visit.

    Concord
    1949
    Barnett Newman (American)
    Oil and masking tape on canvas
    George A. Hearn Fund, 1968 (68.178)
    © 2011 The Barnett Newman Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    On view: Gallery 921
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor
    Daphne Flees Apollo and is Transformed into a Laurel from The Story of Apollo and Daphne
    n.d.
    Master of the Die (Italian); Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi (Italian)
    Engraving
    The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1949 (49.97.325)
    Not on view
    Drawings and PrintsSecond Floor
    Still from an Untitled Film
    1978
    Cindy Sherman (American)
    Gelatin silver print
    Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1992 (1992.5147)
    © Cindy Sherman
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Children on Fire Escape
    1938, printed ca. 1983
    Weegee (American, born Hungary); printed by Sid Kaplan
    Gelatin silver print
    Gift of Aaron and Jessica Rose, 1983 (1983.1130.35)
    © Weegee / International Center of Photography
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Armor
    1891
    Odilon Redon (French)
    Charcoal and conté crayon
    Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1948 (48.10.1)
    Not on view
    Drawings and PrintsSecond Floor
    Hallucinations
    n.d.
    Odilon Redon (French)
    Charcoal on tan paper
    Bequest of Scofield Thayer, 1982 (1984.433.285)
    Not on view
    Drawings and PrintsSecond Floor
    Ia Orana Maria (Hail Mary)
    1891
    Paul Gauguin (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Signed, dated, and inscribed: (lower right) P Gauguin 91; (lower left) IA ORANA MARIA (Hail Mary)
    Bequest of Sam A. Lewisohn, 1951 (51.112.2)
    On view: Gallery 826
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Two Tahitian Women
    1899
    Paul Gauguin (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Gift of William Church Osborn, 1949 (49.58.1)
    Not on view
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    "Smiling Figure"
    7th–8th century
    Mexico, Remojadas
    Ceramic
    The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.1211)
    On view: Gallery 358
    Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the AmericasFirst Floor
    You Will Not Escape (No te escaparas): Plate 72 of The Caprices (Los Caprichos)
    1799
    Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish)
    Etching and burnished aquatint on laid paper
    Gift of M. Knoedler & Co., 1918 (18.64)
    Not on view
    Drawings and PrintsSecond Floor
    No. 13 (White, Red, on Yellow)
    1958
    Mark Rothko (American, born Russia)
    Oil and acrylic with powdered pigments on canvas
    Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation Inc., 1985 (1985.63.5)
    © 2011 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    Not on view
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor
    Architectural elements from North Family Dwelling, New Lebanon, New York
    ca. 1830–40
    New Lebanon, New York
    American
    Wood
    Purchase, 1972 (1972.187.1)
    On view: Gallery 734
    American Decorative ArtsFirst and Second Floors
    [Fashion Study of a Woman in Black Hat and Dress]
    ca. 1950
    George Platt Lynes (American)
    Gelatin silver print
    Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Russell Lynes, 1983 (1983.1160.2)
    © 2010 Estate of George Platt Lynes
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Just Moved
    1870
    Henry Mosler (American)
    Oil on canvas
    Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1962 (62.80)
    On view: Gallery 763
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors

    © 2011 The Metropolitan Museum of Art