Indulgence

Lecturer Giovanna Assenso-Termini on what it takes to sate the senses.

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I was raised Catholic, so my line comes with your seven deadly sins.

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  • Giovanna Assenso-Termini
    1280852
  • Adam and Eve  |  1504  |  Albrecht Dürer (German)  |  Engraving  |  Fletcher Fund, 1919 (19.73.1)
    8101024
  • Adam and Eve  |  1504  |  Albrecht Dürer (German)  |  Engraving  |  Fletcher Fund, 1919 (19.73.1)
    1280959
  • The Feast of Acheloüs  |  ca. 1615  |  Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish); and Jan Brueghel the Elder (Flemish)  |  Oil on wood  |  Gift of Alvin and Irwin Untermyer, in memory of their parents, 1945 (45.141)
    1280837
  • The Feast of Acheloüs  |  ca. 1615  |  Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish); and Jan Brueghel the Elder (Flemish)  |  Oil on wood  |  Gift of Alvin and Irwin Untermyer, in memory of their parents, 1945 (45.141)
    7001024
  • Still Life: A Banqueting Scene  |  1670s  |  Jan Davidsz de Heem (Dutch)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Charles B. Curtis Fund, 1912 (12.195)
    1280949
  • Fish-plate  |  ca. 350–325 b.c.; Late Classical  |  Helgoland Painter  |  Greek, South Italian, Campanian  |  Terracotta; red-figure  |  Rogers Fund, 1906 (06.1021.241)
    10241024
  • Spaghetti Eaters (Columbine and Pulcinella)  |  ca. 1750  |  Giuseppe Gricci (Italian)  |  Soft-paste porcelain  |  Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964 (64.101.350)  |  
    10841024
  • Spaghetti Eaters (Columbine and Pulcinella)  |  ca. 1750  |  Giuseppe Gricci (Italian)  |  Soft-paste porcelain  |  Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964 (64.101.350)  |  
    8551024
  • The Heart of the Andes  |  1859  |  Frederic Edwin Church (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Bequest of Margaret E. Dows, 1909 (09.95)
    1280698
  • Distortion No. 6  |  1932  |  Andrè Kertèsz (American, born Hungary)  |  Gelatin silver print  |  Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987 (1987.1100.321)
    7721024
  • Georgia O'Keeffe  |  1921  |  Alfred Stieglitz (American)  |  Palladium print  |  Gift of Georgia O'Keeffe through the generosity of The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation and Jennifer and Joseph Duke, 1997 (1997.61.19)
    8211024
  • Regatta at Sainte-Adresse  |  1867  |  Claude Monet (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Bequest of William Church Osborn, 1951 (51.30.4)
    1280944
  • Red Sunset on the Dnieper  |  1905–8  |  Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi (Russian)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Rogers Fund, 1974 (1974.100)
    1280913
  • Moulin Rouge, Paris  |  1931  |  Ilse Bing (German)  |  Gelatin silver print  |  Bequest of Ilse Bing Wolff, 1998 (2003.151.7)  |  © Estate of Ilse Bing, Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery
    991728
  • Bust of Alexander Menshikov (ca. 1670–1729)  |  ca. 1703–4  |  Swiss, Austrian, or German artist (active Russia)  |  Red pine (pinus sylvestris), wrought iron  |  Wrightsman Fund, 1996 (1996.7)
    7271024
  • Bust of Alexander Menshikov (ca. 1670–1729)  |  ca. 1703–4  |  Swiss, Austrian, or German artist (active Russia)  |  Red pine (pinus sylvestris), wrought iron  |  Wrightsman Fund, 1996 (1996.7)
    7821024
  • Wheat Field with Cypresses  |  1889  |  Vincent van Gogh (Dutch)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Purchase, The Annenberg Foundation Gift, 1993 (1993.132)
    12801015
  • Wheat Field with Cypresses  |  1889  |  Vincent van Gogh (Dutch)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Purchase, The Annenberg Foundation Gift, 1993 (1993.132)
    11841024
  • Eternal Spring, also known as Eternal Springtime  |  probably modeled 1881, this marble executed 1906–7  |  Auguste Rodin (French)  |  Marble  |  Bequest of Isaac D. Fletcher, 1917 (17.120.184)
    9241024
  • Ugolino and His Sons  |  modeled ca. 1860–61, executed in marble 1865–67  |  Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (French)  |  Saint-Bèat marble  |  Purchase, Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation Inc. Gift and Charles Ulrick and Josephine Bay Foundation Inc. Gift, and Fletcher Fund, 1967 (67.250)
    8361024
  • [Two Young Women before a Pastry Shop at Night]  |  1948  |  Sid Grossman (American)  |  Gelatin silver print  |  Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1990 (1990.1139.1)  |  © 2010 Miriam Grossman Cohen
    1280814
  • Two Lovers  |  1630; Safavid  |  Riza cAbbasi  |  Isfahan, Iran  |  Tempera and gilt paint on paper  |  Purchase, Francis M. Weld Gift, 1950 (50.164)
    6751024
  • Giovanna Assenso-Termini
    1280852
  • My name is Giovanna Assenso-Termini. I'm a lecturer here at the museum, and I want to talk about "Indulgence."

  • An indulgence implies some sort of struggle: sort of, "Should I? Mmm, no, maybe I shouldn't" type of thing. I was raised Catholic, so my line comes with your seven deadly sins.

  • An indulgence doesn't go to an excess or an extreme. You're still sentient, you're still conscious. That idea of, "It's good, but maybe it's not good for me."

  • An indulgence involves my senses exalted. To be sated rather than full. To be touched

  • on the surface of your skin, but then also on the inside of your body.

  • Food. Overindulging in food. There were these monumental meals that would take place in my family. My father would cook them. They would involve antipasti, beautiful plates of pasta

  • some fish, some vegetables, fruit, desserts, cookies, coffee, and then you weren't ready to leave, though. Then came the indulgence part of the evening. One of the hosts would say

  • "Let's have some spaghetti all'aglio e olio, 'na spaghettata aglioeolio." And somebody would make make some spaghetti fast. And everybody would say no they couldn't eat it

  • but everybody would take a couple of forkfuls and enjoy and the dinner would continue until late at night. And you'd wake up feeling like you had done a little too much eating, but you had enjoyed yourself fully.

  • An indulgence is about a spectacle, a visual pleasure, and what takes Heart of the Andes for me beyond just simply a pleasure, is imagining the experience of someone viewing it in 1859. You, first of all, needed to pay money, and you were ushered in by very small groups in front of this piece, which was lit by candles on either side and covered with a velvet drape, which would be rather dramatically removed for you when you were ready to gaze upon it.

  • If we go back to Catholic ideas, bodies are off-limits. Bodies are not always meant to be touched, if anything, they're meant to be covered.

  • So the clavicle in the Stieglitz, to me, speaks of the ability for flesh to take you to those places.

  • My everyday involves work and family and responsibilities, so an indulgence should not include any of those. I have so many memories of spending time at the beach growing up in Italy. And there was once, my father said, "Do you know what

  • il dolce far niente is?" It literally means, "the sweet do nothing." He said, "It's not to do nothing, it's to enjoy it." It could be laziness, but it shouldn't be. It's actively enjoying doing nothing.

  • This image was evocative of the beauty of a cup of coffee that you could extend. But there's something more in that it's this couple, and they're enjoying each other. His hat is off, he's sitting, he's staying. Il dolce far niente.

  • Artists indulge themselves. It's easy for me to imagine that when I look at this bust. I feel like it's my guilty pleasure. It has everything to do with his hair. Whoever

  • sculpted that, I think, must've had a really good time with this pinewood. It's a treat for your eyes. And I see that also in van Gogh

  • with his use of paint. It's beautiful, it's on its surface

  • you can see it gopped and gooped, and it's very easy to imagine the artist really loving what a medium can do, how it can transport you, how it can take you away.

  • There's this broadness of the spectrum of indulgence. It can take you to these heights of connection with people. It can also take you to some

  • dark places of infidelity, of a promise that you made through flesh.

  • Indulgence: it's about being as human as you can be. When you can take experience higher or

  • enjoy it more, that to me is the difference between a pleasure and an indulgence.

  • It's something that goes beyond.

  • 19.73.1
    Adam and Eve, 1504, Albrecht Dürer (German), Engraving Fletcher Fund, 1919 (19.73.1)
  • 45.141
    The Feast of Acheloüs, ca. 1615, Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish); and Jan Brueghel the Elder (Flemish), Oil on wood Gift of Alvin and Irwin Untermyer, in memory of their parents, 1945 (45.141)
  • 12.195
    Still Life: A Banqueting Scene, 1670s, Jan Davidsz de Heem (Dutch), Oil on canvas Charles B. Curtis Fund, 1912 (12.195)
  • 06.1021.241
    Fish-plate, ca. 350–325 b.c.; Late Classical, Helgoland Painter, Greek, South Italian, Campanian, Terracotta; red-figure Rogers Fund, 1906 (06.1021.241)
  • 64.101.350
    Spaghetti Eaters (Columbine and Pulcinella), ca. 1750, Giuseppe Gricci (Italian), Soft-paste porcelain Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964 (64.101.350),
  • 09.95
    The Heart of the Andes, 1859, Frederic Edwin Church (American), Oil on canvas Bequest of Margaret E. Dows, 1909 (09.95)
  • 1987.1100.321
    Distortion No. 6, 1932, Andrè Kertèsz (American, born Hungary), Gelatin silver print Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987 (1987.1100.321)
  • 1997.61.19
    Georgia O'Keeffe, 1921, Alfred Stieglitz (American), Palladium print Gift of Georgia O'Keeffe through the generosity of The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation and Jennifer and Joseph Duke, 1997 (1997.61.19)
  • 51.30.4
    Regatta at Sainte-Adresse, 1867, Claude Monet (French), Oil on canvas Bequest of William Church Osborn, 1951 (51.30.4)
  • 1974.100
    Red Sunset on the Dnieper, 1905–8, Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi (Russian), Oil on canvas Rogers Fund, 1974 (1974.100)
  • 2003.151.7
    Moulin Rouge, Paris, 1931, Ilse Bing (German), Gelatin silver print Bequest of Ilse Bing Wolff, 1998 (2003.151.7) © Estate of Ilse Bing, Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery
  • 1996.7
    Bust of Alexander Menshikov (ca. 1670–1729), ca. 1703–4, Swiss, Austrian, or German artist (active Russia), Red pine (pinus sylvestris), wrought iron Wrightsman Fund, 1996 (1996.7)
  • 1993.132
    Wheat Field with Cypresses, 1889, Vincent van Gogh (Dutch), Oil on canvas Purchase, The Annenberg Foundation Gift, 1993 (1993.132)
  • 17.120.184
    Eternal Spring, also known as Eternal Springtime, probably modeled 1881, this marble executed 1906–7, Auguste Rodin (French), Marble Bequest of Isaac D. Fletcher, 1917 (17.120.184)
  • 67.250
    Ugolino and His Sons, modeled ca. 1860–61, executed in marble 1865–67, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (French), Saint-Bèat marble Purchase, Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation Inc. Gift and Charles Ulrick and Josephine Bay Foundation Inc. Gift, and Fletcher Fund, 1967 (67.250)
  • 1990.1139.1
    [Two Young Women before a Pastry Shop at Night], 1948, Sid Grossman (American), Gelatin silver print Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1990 (1990.1139.1) © 2010 Miriam Grossman Cohen
  • 50.164
    Two Lovers, 1630; Safavid, Riza cAbbasi, Isfahan, Iran, Tempera and gilt paint on paper Purchase, Francis M. Weld Gift, 1950 (50.164)
  • Adam and Eve, 1504, Albrecht Dürer (German), Engraving Fletcher Fund, 1919 (19.73.1)
    The Feast of Acheloüs, ca. 1615, Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish); and Jan Brueghel the Elder (Flemish), Oil on wood Gift of Alvin and Irwin Untermyer, in memory of their parents, 1945 (45.141)
    Still Life: A Banqueting Scene, 1670s, Jan Davidsz de Heem (Dutch), Oil on canvas Charles B. Curtis Fund, 1912 (12.195)
    Fish-plate, ca. 350–325 b.c.; Late Classical, Helgoland Painter, Greek, South Italian, Campanian, Terracotta; red-figure Rogers Fund, 1906 (06.1021.241)
    Spaghetti Eaters (Columbine and Pulcinella), ca. 1750, Giuseppe Gricci (Italian), Soft-paste porcelain Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964 (64.101.350),
    The Heart of the Andes, 1859, Frederic Edwin Church (American), Oil on canvas Bequest of Margaret E. Dows, 1909 (09.95)
    Distortion No. 6, 1932, Andrè Kertèsz (American, born Hungary), Gelatin silver print Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987 (1987.1100.321)
    Georgia O'Keeffe, 1921, Alfred Stieglitz (American), Palladium print Gift of Georgia O'Keeffe through the generosity of The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation and Jennifer and Joseph Duke, 1997 (1997.61.19)
    Regatta at Sainte-Adresse, 1867, Claude Monet (French), Oil on canvas Bequest of William Church Osborn, 1951 (51.30.4)
    Red Sunset on the Dnieper, 1905–8, Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi (Russian), Oil on canvas Rogers Fund, 1974 (1974.100)
    Moulin Rouge, Paris, 1931, Ilse Bing (German), Gelatin silver print Bequest of Ilse Bing Wolff, 1998 (2003.151.7) © Estate of Ilse Bing, Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery
    Bust of Alexander Menshikov (ca. 1670–1729), ca. 1703–4, Swiss, Austrian, or German artist (active Russia), Red pine (pinus sylvestris), wrought iron Wrightsman Fund, 1996 (1996.7)
    Wheat Field with Cypresses, 1889, Vincent van Gogh (Dutch), Oil on canvas Purchase, The Annenberg Foundation Gift, 1993 (1993.132)
    Eternal Spring, also known as Eternal Springtime, probably modeled 1881, this marble executed 1906–7, Auguste Rodin (French), Marble Bequest of Isaac D. Fletcher, 1917 (17.120.184)
    Ugolino and His Sons, modeled ca. 1860–61, executed in marble 1865–67, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (French), Saint-Bèat marble Purchase, Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation Inc. Gift and Charles Ulrick and Josephine Bay Foundation Inc. Gift, and Fletcher Fund, 1967 (67.250)
    [Two Young Women before a Pastry Shop at Night], 1948, Sid Grossman (American), Gelatin silver print Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1990 (1990.1139.1) © 2010 Miriam Grossman Cohen
    Two Lovers, 1630; Safavid, Riza cAbbasi, Isfahan, Iran, Tempera and gilt paint on paper Purchase, Francis M. Weld Gift, 1950 (50.164)
    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.

    Adam and Eve
    1504
    Albrecht Dürer (German)
    Engraving
    Fletcher Fund, 1919 (19.73.1)
    Not on view
    Drawings and PrintsSecond Floor
    The Feast of Acheloüs
    ca. 1615
    Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish); and Jan Brueghel the Elder (Flemish)
    Oil on wood
    Gift of Alvin and Irwin Untermyer, in memory of their parents, 1945 (45.141)
    On view: Gallery 630
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Still Life: A Banqueting Scene
    1670s
    Jan Davidsz de Heem (Dutch)
    Oil on canvas
    Charles B. Curtis Fund, 1912 (12.195)
    Not on view
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Fish-plate
    ca. 350–325 b.c.; Late Classical
    Helgoland Painter
    Greek, South Italian, Campanian
    Terracotta; red-figure
    Rogers Fund, 1906 (06.1021.241)
    On view: Gallery 171
    Greek and Roman ArtFirst Floor and Mezzanine
    Spaghetti Eaters (Columbine and Pulcinella)
    ca. 1750
    Giuseppe Gricci (Italian)
    Soft-paste porcelain
    Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964 (64.101.350)
    On view: Gallery 508
    European Sculpture and Decorative ArtsFirst Floor
    The Heart of the Andes
    1859
    Frederic Edwin Church (American)
    Oil on canvas
    Bequest of Margaret E. Dows, 1909 (09.95)
    Not on view
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors
    Distortion No. 6
    1932
    Andrè Kertèsz (American, born Hungary)
    Gelatin silver print
    Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987 (1987.1100.321)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Georgia O'Keeffe
    1921
    Alfred Stieglitz (American)
    Palladium print
    Gift of Georgia O'Keeffe through the generosity of The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation and Jennifer and Joseph Duke, 1997 (1997.61.19)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Regatta at Sainte-Adresse
    1867
    Claude Monet (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Bequest of William Church Osborn, 1951 (51.30.4)
    On view: Gallery 818
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Red Sunset on the Dnieper
    1905–8
    Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi (Russian)
    Oil on canvas
    Rogers Fund, 1974 (1974.100)
    Not on view
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Moulin Rouge, Paris
    1931
    Ilse Bing (German)
    Gelatin silver print
    Bequest of Ilse Bing Wolff, 1998 (2003.151.7)
    © Estate of Ilse Bing, Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Bust of Alexander Menshikov (ca. 1670–1729)
    ca. 1703–4
    Swiss, Austrian, or German artist (active Russia)
    Red pine (pinus sylvestris), wrought iron
    Wrightsman Fund, 1996 (1996.7)
    On view: Gallery 551
    European Sculpture and Decorative ArtsFirst Floor
    Wheat Field with Cypresses
    1889
    Vincent van Gogh (Dutch)
    Oil on canvas
    Purchase, The Annenberg Foundation Gift, 1993 (1993.132)
    On view: Gallery 823
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Eternal Spring, also known as Eternal Springtime
    probably modeled 1881, this marble executed 1906–7
    Auguste Rodin (French)
    Marble
    Bequest of Isaac D. Fletcher, 1917 (17.120.184)
    On view: Gallery 800
    European Sculpture and Decorative ArtsSecond Floor
    Ugolino and His Sons
    modeled ca. 1860–61, executed in marble 1865–67
    Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (French)
    Saint-Bèat marble
    Purchase, Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation Inc. Gift and Charles Ulrick and Josephine Bay Foundation Inc. Gift, and Fletcher Fund, 1967 (67.250)
    On view: Gallery 548
    European Sculpture and Decorative ArtsFirst Floor
    [Two Young Women before a Pastry Shop at Night]
    1948
    Sid Grossman (American)
    Gelatin silver print
    Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1990 (1990.1139.1)
    © 2010 Miriam Grossman Cohen
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Two Lovers
    1630; Safavid
    Riza cAbbasi
    Isfahan, Iran
    Tempera and gilt paint on paper
    Purchase, Francis M. Weld Gift, 1950 (50.164)
    On view: Gallery 462
    Islamic ArtSecond Floor

    © 2011 The Metropolitan Museum of Art