Intention

Online marketing coordinator Alex Hills considers purpose behind the object to be the most important element to art.

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I went to music school for piano, and one of the most important things I learned in school was: it's not really about what you play, it's more about what you don't play.

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  • Alex Hills
    1280852
  • Self-Portrait with a Friend  |  1889  |  Édouard Vuillard (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Gift of Alex M. Lewyt, 1955 (55.173)
    8041024
  • Assumption of the Virgin in an Initial A: Cutting from an Antiphonary  |  ca. 1470–80  |  Cosimo Tura (Italian)  |  Tempera and gold leaf on parchment  |  Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.50.1)
    7251024
  • Funeral Procession in an Initial R  |  Leaf from a gradual  |  second half of 15th century  |  Mariano del Buono (Italian, Florentine)  |  Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment  |  Gift of Louis L. Lorillard, 1896 (96.32.16)
    7441024
  • Violin: "The Francesca"  |  1694  |  Antonio Stradivari (Italian)  |  Cremona, Italy  |  Maple, spruce, ebony  |  Bequest of Annie Bolton Matthews Bryant, 1933 (34.86.2)
    5591024
  • Violin: "The Francesca"  |  1694  |  Antonio Stradivari (Italian)  |  Cremona, Italy  |  Maple, spruce, ebony  |  Bequest of Annie Bolton Matthews Bryant, 1933 (34.86.2)
    5181024
  • Violin: "The Francesca"  |  1694  |  Antonio Stradivari (Italian)  |  Cremona, Italy  |  Maple, spruce, ebony  |  Bequest of Annie Bolton Matthews Bryant, 1933 (34.86.2)
    5691024
  • Harpsichord  |  ca. 1675  |  Made by Michele Todini (Italian)  |  Rome, Italy  |  Wood, various materials  |  The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889 (89.4.2929)
    1280479
  • Harpsichord  |  ca. 1675  |  Made by Michele Todini (Italian)  |  Rome, Italy  |  Wood, various materials  |  The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889 (89.4.2929)
    8181024
  • Architectural Ruins with a View of a Garden; Stage design for Giacomo Meyerbeer's opera, "Robert le diable"  |  19th century  |  Carlo Ferrario (Italian)  |  Graphite; partly squared in graphite  |  The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1962 (62.570.22)
    1280983
  • 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
  • Homage to the Square: Soft Spoken  |  1969  |  Josef Albers (American, born Germany)  |  Oil on Masonite  |  Gift of the artist, 1972 (1972.40.7)  |  © 2011 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    10261024
  • Woman with a Parrot  |  1866  |  Gustave Courbet (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.57)
    1280839
  • U.S. 97, South of Klamath Falls, Oregon  |  1973, printed 2002  |  Stephen Shore (American)  |  Chromogenic print  |  Purchase, Charina Foundation Inc. Gift, 2002 (2002.224)  |  © 1973 Stephen Shore
    12801020
  • Main Street, Gull Lake, Saskatchewan  |  1974  |  Stephen Shore (American)  |  Chromogenic print  |  Purchase, Joseph H. Hazen Foundation Inc. Gift, 1975 (1975.603.2)  |  © 1973 Stephen Shore
    12791016
  • The Battles of Hogen and Heiji  |  Edo period, 17th century  |  Japanese  |  Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold on paper  |  Rogers Fund, 1957 (57.156.4–5)
    1280579
  • The Battles of Hogen and Heiji  |  Edo period, 17th century  |  Japanese  |  Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold on paper  |  Rogers Fund, 1957 (57.156.4–5)
    12651024
  • The Battles of Hogen and Heiji  |  Edo period, 17th century  |  Japanese  |  Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold on paper  |  Rogers Fund, 1957 (57.156.4–5)
    12801020
  • Richard Strauss  |  1904, printed 1906  |  Edward J. Steichen (American)  |  Direct carbon print  |  Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949 (49.55.168)
    7741024
  • The Contest for the Bouquet: The Family of Robert Gordon in Their New York Dining-Room  |  1866  |  Seymour Joseph Guy (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Purchase, Gift of William E. Dodge, by exchange, and Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1992 (1992.128)
    12171024
  • The Contest for the Bouquet: The Family of Robert Gordon in Their New York Dining-Room  |  1866  |  Seymour Joseph Guy (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Purchase, Gift of William E. Dodge, by exchange, and Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1992 (1992.128)
    8571024
  • Divina proportione  |  1509  |  Leonardo da Vinci (Italian); Fra Luca Pacioli (Italian)  |  Published by Paganinus de Paganinus, Venice  |  Book with woodcut illustrations  |  Rogers Fund, 1919 (19.50)
    8741024
  • Studies for the Libyan Sibyl (recto); Studies for the Libyan Sibyl and a Small Sketch for a Seated Figure (verso)  |  1508–12  |  Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian)  |  Italian  |  Red chalk (recto); charcoal or black chalk (verso)  |  Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1924 (24.197.2)
    7571024
  • Alex Hills
    1280852
  • My name is Alex Hills, I work in the digital media department. I do online marketing, and my topic is "Intention."

  • Before an artist creates something, they think, "Why am I making this? What's the point of this? What's the concept behind it? Why does this need to be made in the first place?"

  • I went to music school for piano, and I studied a lot of composition; I do a lot of writing. One of the most important things that I learned in school was, it's not really about what you play, it's more about what you don't play.

  • Just because I have the technical facility to do something, doesn't mean that I necessarily should. I look at some of these works of art and I see a lot of

  • restraint. If I look at the Stradivari violin, I see a perfect instrument that's purpose is to be played. Looking at it you know that everything that he did was intentional.

  • The wood that he chose had a purpose 'cause it resonates a certain way.

  • The length of the fret board, the height of the bridge and the arch, each curve, everything is for the purpose of making this violin sound good.

  • There's something about instruments that look beautiful; when they look beautiful, you think they're gonna sound beautiful as well, and that's not always the case. I've played on some pianos that have looked great and when I finally sit down at them it's a mess.

  • It's more about, "look what I have," instead of, "listen to the music."

  • People that do these really elaborate, detailed drawings that are technically amazing. But to me, something that's more interesting is putting the bare minimum on the canvas, like a

  • Rothko. It's not that hard to do that, technically, but the fact that he did not make it this really detailed and elaborate piece really means something. Each color that he chose was significant to him. And also

  • with Albers, he was just doing color studies: let's put this color next to this color, and these shades next to these shades, and see what happens. It was more of an experiment than, "I'm gonna show off how good I am at something."

  • Courbet's interesting to me, I feel like he's a very arrogant person. This piece was created because he wanted to get a nude into the Salon, you know, that was the point behind this. I don't know if I can get behind that. That's a little forced. What's really the point of this painting? To me it sounds like it's just to impress some people. And I'd rather see him paint something that is really meaningful to him, but this piece, it was just him showing off.

  • Stephen Shore is a very conscious photographer. He's extremely aware of every element that's in his photos.

  • When I look at this photograph I wonder, how long did he stand there until there was no one in the frame? How long did he walk around the town till he found the perfect buildings, and then how long did he wait for the sun to be in the right place? Just to the left and just to the right, I'm sure there's something that he left out intentionally, because it would disrupt that composition.

  • I'm interested in pieces that depict events that happened. There's a story behind it and the story is the intention

  • to convey that to the viewer. There are many Japanese screens that show

  • battles that happened. It's about visually displaying the history.

  • I write a lot of music that I think is probably a little harsh and difficult to listen to. I think it's a tricky balance between being true to what you want to do and creating something that the audience is going to enjoy. I can only imagine that

  • a commissioned piece is very difficult. Being paid by this family to create this piece, that artist has to then make them

  • look good, and at the same time be true to your own artistic merit.

  • The M has a system behind it, it has a science behind it. When you take away the grid and the circles, it just looks like an M, and maybe if you put the M in a sentence with a bunch of other letters, it just looks like words. But the fact that there's some underlaying logic to it, creates this organic harmony and rhythm to the letters. It's not only beautiful to look at, but it's beautiful to think about as well.

  • A work of art, when it's finished, can be beautiful, but to me what's more important is how you got there, the thought that went behind it, and the story behind it

  • that creates something that's, I think, really powerful.

  • 55.173
    Self-Portrait with a Friend, 1889, Édouard Vuillard (French), Oil on canvas Gift of Alex M. Lewyt, 1955 (55.173)
  • 11.50.1
    Assumption of the Virgin in an Initial A: Cutting from an Antiphonary, ca. 1470–80, Cosimo Tura (Italian), Tempera and gold leaf on parchment Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.50.1)
  • 96.32.16
    Funeral Procession in an Initial R, Leaf from a gradual, second half of 15th century, Mariano del Buono (Italian, Florentine), Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment Gift of Louis L. Lorillard, 1896 (96.32.16)
  • 34.86.2
    Violin: "The Francesca", 1694, Antonio Stradivari (Italian), Cremona, Italy, Maple, spruce, ebony Bequest of Annie Bolton Matthews Bryant, 1933 (34.86.2)
  • 89.4.2929
    Harpsichord, ca. 1675, Made by Michele Todini (Italian), Rome, Italy, Wood, various materials The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889 (89.4.2929)
  • 62.570.22
    Architectural Ruins with a View of a Garden; Stage design for Giacomo Meyerbeer's opera, "Robert le diable", 19th century, Carlo Ferrario (Italian), Graphite; partly squared in graphite The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1962 (62.570.22)
  • 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
  • 1972.40.7
    Homage to the Square: Soft Spoken, 1969, Josef Albers (American, born Germany), Oil on Masonite Gift of the artist, 1972 (1972.40.7) © 2011 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • 29.100.57
    Woman with a Parrot, 1866, Gustave Courbet (French), Oil on canvas H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.57)
  • 2002.224
    U.S. 97, South of Klamath Falls, Oregon, 1973, printed 2002, Stephen Shore (American), Chromogenic print Purchase, Charina Foundation Inc. Gift, 2002 (2002.224) © 1973 Stephen Shore
  • 1975.603.2
    Main Street, Gull Lake, Saskatchewan, 1974, Stephen Shore (American), Chromogenic print Purchase, Joseph H. Hazen Foundation Inc. Gift, 1975 (1975.603.2) © 1973 Stephen Shore
  • 57.156.4-5
    The Battles of Hogen and Heiji, Edo period, 17th century, Japanese, Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold on paper Rogers Fund, 1957 (57.156.4–5)
  • 49.55.168
    Richard Strauss, 1904, printed 1906, Edward J. Steichen (American), Direct carbon print Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949 (49.55.168)
  • 1992.128
    The Contest for the Bouquet: The Family of Robert Gordon in Their New York Dining-Room, 1866, Seymour Joseph Guy (American), Oil on canvas Purchase, Gift of William E. Dodge, by exchange, and Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1992 (1992.128)
  • 19.50
    Divina proportione, 1509, Leonardo da Vinci (Italian); Fra Luca Pacioli (Italian), Published by Paganinus de Paganinus, Venice, Book with woodcut illustrations Rogers Fund, 1919 (19.50)
  • 24.197.2
    Studies for the Libyan Sibyl (recto); Studies for the Libyan Sibyl and a Small Sketch for a Seated Figure (verso), 1508–12, Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian), Italian, Red chalk (recto); charcoal or black chalk (verso) Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1924 (24.197.2)
  • Self-Portrait with a Friend, 1889, Édouard Vuillard (French), Oil on canvas Gift of Alex M. Lewyt, 1955 (55.173)
    Assumption of the Virgin in an Initial A: Cutting from an Antiphonary, ca. 1470–80, Cosimo Tura (Italian), Tempera and gold leaf on parchment Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.50.1)
    Funeral Procession in an Initial R, Leaf from a gradual, second half of 15th century, Mariano del Buono (Italian, Florentine), Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment Gift of Louis L. Lorillard, 1896 (96.32.16)
    Violin: "The Francesca", 1694, Antonio Stradivari (Italian), Cremona, Italy, Maple, spruce, ebony Bequest of Annie Bolton Matthews Bryant, 1933 (34.86.2)
    Harpsichord, ca. 1675, Made by Michele Todini (Italian), Rome, Italy, Wood, various materials The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889 (89.4.2929)
    Architectural Ruins with a View of a Garden; Stage design for Giacomo Meyerbeer's opera, "Robert le diable", 19th century, Carlo Ferrario (Italian), Graphite; partly squared in graphite The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1962 (62.570.22)
    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
    Homage to the Square: Soft Spoken, 1969, Josef Albers (American, born Germany), Oil on Masonite Gift of the artist, 1972 (1972.40.7) © 2011 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    Woman with a Parrot, 1866, Gustave Courbet (French), Oil on canvas H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.57)
    U.S. 97, South of Klamath Falls, Oregon, 1973, printed 2002, Stephen Shore (American), Chromogenic print Purchase, Charina Foundation Inc. Gift, 2002 (2002.224) © 1973 Stephen Shore
    Main Street, Gull Lake, Saskatchewan, 1974, Stephen Shore (American), Chromogenic print Purchase, Joseph H. Hazen Foundation Inc. Gift, 1975 (1975.603.2) © 1973 Stephen Shore
    The Battles of Hogen and Heiji, Edo period, 17th century, Japanese, Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold on paper Rogers Fund, 1957 (57.156.4–5)
    Richard Strauss, 1904, printed 1906, Edward J. Steichen (American), Direct carbon print Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949 (49.55.168)
    The Contest for the Bouquet: The Family of Robert Gordon in Their New York Dining-Room, 1866, Seymour Joseph Guy (American), Oil on canvas Purchase, Gift of William E. Dodge, by exchange, and Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1992 (1992.128)
    Divina proportione, 1509, Leonardo da Vinci (Italian); Fra Luca Pacioli (Italian), Published by Paganinus de Paganinus, Venice, Book with woodcut illustrations Rogers Fund, 1919 (19.50)
    Studies for the Libyan Sibyl (recto); Studies for the Libyan Sibyl and a Small Sketch for a Seated Figure (verso), 1508–12, Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian), Italian, Red chalk (recto); charcoal or black chalk (verso) Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1924 (24.197.2)
    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.

    Self-Portrait with a Friend
    1889
    Édouard Vuillard (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Gift of Alex M. Lewyt, 1955 (55.173)
    On view: Gallery 813
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor
    Assumption of the Virgin in an Initial A: Cutting from an Antiphonary
    ca. 1470–80
    Cosimo Tura (Italian)
    Tempera and gold leaf on parchment
    Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.50.1)
    Not on view
    Medieval Art and The CloistersFirst Floor
    Funeral Procession in an Initial R
    Leaf from a gradual
    second half of 15th century
    Mariano del Buono (Italian, Florentine)
    Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment
    Gift of Louis L. Lorillard, 1896 (96.32.16)
    Not on view
    Medieval Art and The CloistersFirst Floor
    Violin: "The Francesca"
    1694
    Antonio Stradivari (Italian)
    Cremona, Italy
    Maple, spruce, ebony
    Bequest of Annie Bolton Matthews Bryant, 1933 (34.86.2)
    On view: Gallery 684
    Musical InstrumentsSecond Floor
    Harpsichord
    ca. 1675
    Made by Michele Todini (Italian)
    Rome, Italy
    Wood, various materials
    The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889 (89.4.2929)
    Not on view
    Musical InstrumentsSecond Floor
    Architectural Ruins with a View of a Garden; Stage design for Giacomo Meyerbeer's opera, "Robert le diable"
    19th century
    Carlo Ferrario (Italian)
    Graphite; partly squared in graphite
    The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1962 (62.570.22)
    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
    Homage to the Square: Soft Spoken
    1969
    Josef Albers (American, born Germany)
    Oil on Masonite
    Gift of the artist, 1972 (1972.40.7)
    © 2011 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
    Not on view
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor
    Woman with a Parrot
    1866
    Gustave Courbet (French)
    Oil on canvas
    H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.57)
    On view: Gallery 811
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    U.S. 97, South of Klamath Falls, Oregon
    1973, printed 2002
    Stephen Shore (American)
    Chromogenic print
    Purchase, Charina Foundation Inc. Gift, 2002 (2002.224)
    © 1973 Stephen Shore
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Main Street, Gull Lake, Saskatchewan
    1974
    Stephen Shore (American)
    Chromogenic print
    Purchase, Joseph H. Hazen Foundation Inc. Gift, 1975 (1975.603.2)
    © 1973 Stephen Shore
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    The Battles of Hogen and Heiji
    Edo period, 17th century
    Japanese
    Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold on paper
    Rogers Fund, 1957 (57.156.4–5)
    Not on view
    Asian ArtSecond Floor
    Richard Strauss
    1904, printed 1906
    Edward J. Steichen (American)
    Direct carbon print
    Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949 (49.55.168)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    The Contest for the Bouquet: The Family of Robert Gordon in Their New York Dining-Room
    1866
    Seymour Joseph Guy (American)
    Oil on canvas
    Purchase, Gift of William E. Dodge, by exchange, and Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1992 (1992.128)
    On view: Gallery 763
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors
    Divina proportione
    1509
    Leonardo da Vinci (Italian); Fra Luca Pacioli (Italian)
    Published by Paganinus de Paganinus, Venice
    Book with woodcut illustrations
    Rogers Fund, 1919 (19.50)
    Not on view
    Drawings and PrintsSecond Floor
    Studies for the Libyan Sibyl (recto); Studies for the Libyan Sibyl and a Small Sketch for a Seated Figure (verso)
    1508–12
    Michelangelo Buonarroti (Italian)
    Italian
    Red chalk (recto); charcoal or black chalk (verso)
    Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1924 (24.197.2)
    Not on view
    Drawings and PrintsSecond Floor

    © 2011 The Metropolitan Museum of Art