Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a comparison is worth at least two thousand.
The exhibition Artists and Amateurs, Etching in Eighteenth-Century France (on view through January 5) offers many thought-provoking pairings illuminating aspects of artistic process and individual style. An etching, which is printed from ink held in sunken lines on a copper plate, can be reworked between printings, resulting in distinct states. Such is the case with a print depicting soldiers trudging through a bleak landscape, off to join their regiment. An extremely rare first state is etched by the hand of Antoine Watteau, renowned painter of fêtes galantes. His delicate sinuous line imbues his figures with a grace more balletic than warlike.
Posted: Monday, December 2, 2013
Posted: Friday, November 15, 2013
Washington Heights—the neighborhood in northern Manhattan that houses The Cloisters museum and gardens—is built upon a series of bluffs and cliffs. Concrete staircases and creaky subway elevators connect different sections of the neighborhood, and buildings stand tall on stilts driven deep into Manhattan schist. From a distance, blocks of apartment buildings appear like castellated European villages. However, despite its once-impenetrable terrain, or maybe because of it, Washington Heights is a place where some of the wildest and most romantic medieval-architecture fantasies in New York City have been realized for over 150 years.
Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mike Hearn—the Met's Douglas Dillon Curator in Charge of the Department of Asian Art—about his work in authoring the catalogue accompanying the upcoming exhibition Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China, his inspiration for incorporating modern works into his department, and the role of the Chinese artist in today's art world.
Posted: Friday, October 18, 2013
One hundred years ago this weekend, on October 20, 1913, Robert W. de Forest was unanimously elected the fifth president of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. De Forest had been involved with the Museum since its inception in 1870 and had served on its Board of Trustees since 1889, first as a Trustee and later as its secretary and vice president.
Posted: Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Janet Cardiff's The Forty Part Motet, currently on view through December 8, boasts the distinction of being the first exhibition of contemporary art in the seventy-five-year history of The Cloisters museum and gardens. A sound installation consisting of forty speakers mounted on tall stands and arranged in a large oval, Cardiff's work seems to have found its ideal home in the Fuentidueña Chapel—dominated by the monumental twelfth-century apse brought to The Cloisters from the church of San Martín in Fuentidueña, Spain.
Posted: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
This year's Artist in Residence program brings Alarm Will Sound, one of the most creative ensembles working today, to the Met. Just beyond the cutting edge of music, dance, and theater, this hugely respected and highly accomplished group of performer-composers turns its collective imagination for one year to the Met's permanent collection and galleries.
Posted: Monday, September 23, 2013
MetPublications is a portal to the Museum's comprehensive book and online publishing program from 1964 to the present, offering free content and information from an encyclopedic collection of publications—including exhibition catalogues, collection catalogues, Museum guides, and educational materials. And now, with the addition of two hundred thirty-five issues of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin spanning the past fifty years, MetPublications currently boasts close to nine hundred titles.
Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
On Wednesday, September 18, join us on Twitter for Ask a Curator Day with Department of Modern and Contemporary Art Associate Curator Ian Alteveer. Ian will answer your questions about his job, the collection, and exhibitions during this live Twitter Q&A.
Posted: Friday, September 6, 2013
As an art historian, my goal is to offer information and insight. As a teacher, I hope to encourage people to discuss, discover, and explore. Where is the balance between these things in museum teaching and interpretation? When and how is information meaningful? How do we help visitors look closely and relate to what they see? These are some of the questions that guided me during my Kress Interpretive Fellowship at the Met this past year. My main project was a thematic, digital publication focusing on teaching adults in the European Paintings collection. The exciting final result is Looking to Connect with European Paintings: Visual Approaches for Teaching in the Galleries—it has just been released and is available as a free download (PDF) within MetPublications.
Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Although theatrical plays had been presented at the original Cloisters museum at 699 Fort Washington Avenue until its closing in February 1936, it was not until the performance of The Miracle of Theophilus at The Cloisters' current home in January 1942 that a medieval drama was produced for the first time. Envisioned and organized by the curatorial staff, with a text translated from the original French into English by Curator James Rorimer—later director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art—and costumes designed by Associate Curator Margaret Freeman, the thirteenth-century play was enjoyed by a group of Museum members on the Feast of the Epiphany. Thus began a tradition of medieval theatrical performances at The Cloisters.
Posted: Friday, August 2, 2013
From 1951 to 1957, The Cloisters hosted annual festivals for children of Members. Each of the seven festivals—held in the courtyard and given vibrantly titled themes such as "Round Table Capers" (1954) and "When Knights were Bold" (1955)—was an extravagant affair organized by the staff of the Met's Junior Museum, the precursor to what is now the Education Department. Children enjoyed puppet shows, games, donkey rides, and even trained bears.
Posted: Monday, July 29, 2013
I am Cyrus, king of the universe, the great king, the powerful king, king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters of the world.
—The Cyrus Cylinder (Line 20)
Posted: Wednesday, July 24, 2013
The Museum's new Guide highlights special works from each of our seventeen curatorial departments. Coming in at four hundred fifty-six pages and featuring almost six hundred works of art, it is the first new Guide to be published about the Museum in twenty-nine years. While reviewing the new publication, I discovered a few fun facts about the works of art from around the globe and across the centuries featured in its pages.
Posted: Monday, July 22, 2013
For the past seventy-five years, The Cloisters has provided visitors with more than just a chance to view an exceptional collection of medieval art and architecture. In tourist guides and travel reviews, a trip to The Cloisters is commonly described as a way to be transported to the Middle Ages or—for locals seeking a "staycation"—a chance to get out of New York without leaving the city. The powerful effect of the place has clearly been noticed by screenwriters, novelists, and even comicbook authors, who have set a fair number of fictional works here over the years.
Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Toward the end of the first century a.d. Jerusalem lay in ruins, the second temple built by Herod the Great (74/73–4 b.c.) destroyed and ransacked by the Roman army. Meanwhile, in Babylon, scribes continued to copy ancient texts, inscribing some of them on cuneiform tablets made of clay. After the last cuneiform scribe passed to his fate, no one remained who could read or write documents in Babylonian, Assyrian, or Sumerian. In 1893, pioneer archaeologists and explorers digging in Iraq began to uncover vast archives of cuneiform tablets that had been buried for two thousand years. Today, philologists, archaeologists, and historians are able to combine narratives previously known only from the Bible with information gleaned from thousands of historic, literary, religious, and scientific texts, illuminating the world of Nebuchadnezzar, Sennacherib, and Cyrus. The Cyrus Cylinder, now on view at the Met, helps us understand the peoples and policies of the ancient Near East.
Posted: Tuesday, July 2, 2013
I'm back in New York, and I've had a chance to reflect on my first Travel with the Met experience. The trip was truly unforgettable, thanks in part to the hospitality and humor of our Russian hosts and the stoic pride they take in their country.
Posted: Monday, July 1, 2013
Now on view (through September 8), the exhibition Living in Style brings together drawings, prints, books, and pieces of furniture from the Museum's collections to illustrate five centuries of interior design, from the Renaissance period through the 1960s. Following a chronological path of development, the show traces changes and continuities in the approach to materials, shapes, colors, and decorations as displayed by the works on paper.
Posted: Friday, June 28, 2013
"Creating the Cloisters," the spring issue of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin written by curator Timothy B. Husband, is an engaging and nuanced narrative of the early history of The Cloisters. As a complement to that narrative, I'd like to review the more recent gallery renovations and reinstallations that have been undertaken, all guided by the principle of maintaining the integrity of the original architectural vision of The Cloisters.
Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013
Our local guide explained that the first settlers to the Kizhi Island area in the sixteenth century practiced two religions simultaneously: Russian Orthodox Christianity and pre-Christian pagan mysticism.