Saturday, February 28, 2009

Old Masters

After a long hiatus from tours, I went on a very informative Old Masters tour this evening.

Reading in the Lehman Wing

After my Old Masters tour, I wandered into the Robert Lehman Wing just downstairs from the European Paintings galleries. I recently started reading former Met director Thomas Hoving's memoir, Making the Mummies Dance. What fun it was to sit looking at Lehman's Impressionists and read about what an ordeal it was to secure the collection and build an entire pavillion to house it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Balthus Reunited

The largest painting, The Mountain, recently returned from the Philippe de Montebello exhibition to join three other paintings by the Polish/French artist, Balthasar Kłossowski de Rola (aka Balthus).

I am strangely drawn to Balthus; his flattened perspective and muted palette strike me as interesting, though not particularly beautiful. His paintings are stylistically unique, taking on characteristics of both medieval and modern portraiture, slightly abstracting the human figures and environments, while remaining relatively faithful to realism compared to the work of his contemporaries (Picasso, Miró, Giacometti).

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Met Artist

This may classify me as a bit of a stalker, but I can't resist photographing my favorite Met artist. I always see him. One day I'll get up the courage to actually talk to him, rather than throwing out the errant compliment here and there. Previous posts: 1/2/3.

Per Reader Suggestion

I received a comment on my post, Thoughts on Change, that suggested I take a look at the new additions to the Modern Art wing, particularly those that hang near the staircase where my (yes, I take ownership of them since they are my favorite) beloved Rosenquists once lived.

The most prominent painting is Kehinde Wiley's "The Veiled Christ (study) 2008," which I definitely noticed as soon as it arrived. It portrays the stiff, clearly deceased subject laying on his back with his hand on his abdomen, a crown of thorns and metal stakes at his feet, against the backdrop of bright floral wallpaper with a black background, some of the same flowers coming to life in the foreground, dispersed about the body. Regardless of its size, the image itself is powerful and arresting.

On the facing wall next to Norman Rockwell and Grant Wood, hangs a Thomas Hart Benton: "Cotton Pickers, Georgia, 1928-29." In Benton's signature style, the squiggly characters float atop the wavelike landscape.

And just to the left, Andrew Wyeth's "A Crow Flew By, 1949-50" captured my undivided attention. The egg tempera on wood gives the painting a very rustic feeling — the shirt and hat in the top right corner are expertly painted to look worn out, and the expression on the man's droopy-eyed face is perfectly highlighted by the ray of light.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Pleasant Surprise

These beauties just showed up the other day in the space that the Shigeyuki Kihara exhibition recently vacated. They are particularly enthralling to me because of my graphic design background.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thoughts on Change

Considering the series of life decisions I have made, it comes as a surprise even to me that I am, perhaps uncharacteristically, averse to change. Maybe I'm not being completely fair, because I am most uncomfortable when changes are not in my favor, but change (even the expected kind), nonetheless, comes as a jolt to my system.

After visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art as frequently as I, one might expect to be more attuned to subtle changes in the galleries — but today I was alarmed to find that my favorite paintings had been removed from the stairwell at the southwest corner of the Modern Art wing. My Rosenquists! I was seriously distraught...

I don't know if I am just more inclined to notice changes in the galleries now, but I have since noticed several new paintings and several that no longer hang where they used to — and I'm not talking special exhibitions. I guess it's pretty naive for me to be so surprised that after visiting the Met 'everyday' for four months I've noticed some relatively insignificant changes — but maybe I am.

I can tell you though, that Pollock's Pasiphaë and another abstract expressionist painting have been replaced by two different Pollock paintings (one of which had, until February 2, been part of the Philippe de Montebello exhibition); that between Chuck Close's colorful circles portrait and Warhol's self-portrait with camouflage, now hangs a grey-toned Jasper Johns with a shadowy figure on the right; that instead of the Stephen Hannock landscape that hung beside its waterfall mate, there is now a panoramic horizontal painting of Christ with an overlying floral motif — all of which I plan to revisit and study. So, as I continue to mourn the loss of Rosenquist's Gift Wrapped Dolls, I will stay positive and look forward to picking new favorites.

*When I first began this project, part of the idea was to learn something about myself. In visits prior to the genesis of this blog, I had done some serious thinking and extensive soul-searching within the walls of the Met. So it seemed natural that, by going every day, I'd continue — and I have. So today's post has reflected on the way I felt inside the Met; and I will try to include more of my personal experiences in the future.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Just Dropped in on Thursday Afternoon

My friend Justin is crashing on my couch this week, so we ventured to the Met to meet up with a couple of his other friends this afternoon. I didn't have much time, so I basically walked across the park with him and dropped him off with his friends in the Modern Art wing. I did come across these two fellows I'd met before — they told me where to get the cool chairs they have for sketching: Houtz and Barwick.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Looking Forward to Fashion

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute issued a press release today, announcing the upcoming exhibition: The Model As Muse: Embodying Fashion. Though I admittedly know only a teeny bit about fashion, I thoroughly enjoy studying it — Project Runway and previous exhibitions at the Met are to thank for that — and I cannot wait until this opens in May!

Past Costume Institute Exhibitions I Attended
Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy
blog.mode: addressing fashion

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Van Gogh Treasures

Celebrated master of texture and color, Vincent van Gogh has always been one of my very favorite painters, so I was absolutely thrilled to come across this site, where you can read his letters about his life.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day — A Return to Art and Love

In honor of Valentine's Day, and since it will be closing on Monday, I decided to revisit Art and Love in Renaissance Italy, an extensive exhibition of masterpieces inspired by love, which I previewed exactly three months ago when I was just starting this blog: read that post here. True to my word, I did take more time to view the work in this exhibition and learn a little something about those sexy Italians!

Art and Love takes the visitor through all aspects of Renaissance love: from wedding gifts to everyday objects, textiles to portraits and chests, allegorical and erotic paintings, and everything pertaining to the subject.

The Met's YouTube channel also has a ton of content on this:

...and here is a curatorial talk in three parts: (1) (2) (3).

Friday with Friends

What a great day to have a few hours to spare with friends at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We met in the morning at the Balcony Café for a cup of coffee and set off from there. Typical of a group visit, we covered a lot of ground, meandering through the various galleries, commenting on pieces that caught our attention.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

All Things AIGA

After work today, I had a couple hours to kill before attending a lecture I wanted to see (more on that later). So I ventured up to the AIGA headquarters in the Flatiron District to see 365: A Year in Design, the annual exhibition of the year's design awards live in 3-D technicolor.

First of all, the main gallery was transformed complete with a painting supplies theme by a nonprofit called Publicolor, which teaches at-risk youth the trade of commercial painting (by the way, their site, though still in progress, is really rad). The exhibit itself is actually quite sentimental to me because it serves as a marker for my year anniversary in New York City: I visited last year's 365 show just after I moved here. I truly love the way the various design pieces are displayed here, you get a hands-on look at brochures, catalogs, books, posters, web sites, and commercials (just about every form of design). These are the cream of the crop — they are gratifying as individual artworks, but they also serve their function best.

Next it was a short jaunt down to the Apple store in Soho, where I heard founder, Tina Roth Eisenberg speak. Incredibly talented and inspiring, Eisenberg showed us a little background of her work as a designer, even highlighting a data organization/visualization project her firm pitched to The New York Times that reminded me of the Met's Timeline of Art History in the way it structures the information.

She then began to describe her blog, whose original intent was actually to organize her bookmarks! I totally understood, since currently I have 83 bookmarks in 7 folders on my bookmarks bar alone — and I just recently cleared some out. visually organizes and highlights Tina's interests, and she has really good taste. Definitely worth bookmarking and visiting daily!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Continuous Mile

While perusing YouTube, I found this video showing a new installation in the Modern Art gallery. So I sought out to see for myself. (The video is really interesting, but also really long - skip to the end to see the final result).

In noticed this piece right away, since I frequently pass through the Met's Modern Art wing. I was thrown by the size and detail — the rope is made out of about a gazillion tiny white beads.
It is amazingly intricate, elegant, and let's face it: reminiscent of a wishing well... and who doesn't like a wishing well! A really nice addition to the works in the corridor that houses Damien Hirst's The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. More to come on that, I've been holidng out on you :-)

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Day of the Week Between Sunday and Tuesday

I recently came across the Time Out NY magazine feature on Things you don't know about New York. Among the awesome, colorful infographics is this image:


I feel pretty confident I have all of them.

UPDATE: I do have all of them!

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Today's weather was unseasonably wonderful, so I meandered through the park on my way to the Met. Knowing I didn't have much time and that there would be lots of people at the museum, I opted to just pass by on my walk to the subway. I do love to see the crowds at the museum though — to know that its appeal reaches so many others, and that I have the luxury of visiting as often as I do.

"The Lion Sleeps Tonight" filled the air at the bottom of the steps, thanks to this guy — a frequenter of this spot.

An In-Depth Look at American Style

Tonight was my first experience with "The Observant Eye," a twice-monthly program for recent college graduates and young adults interested in art. Well, it just so happens, I am one of those, so I eagerly enrolled. About an hour-and-a-half long, it is really a lecture/discussion with a curator of a specific department (right up my ally, right?).
They lent us little Met stools and herded us over to the American Wing, where we parked ourselves in front of a Rococo revival parlour.

The room was designed by John Henry Belter, a German immigrant whose furniture became popular in the mid-19th century. Remarkably, Belter discovered important new techniques for furniture manufacturing — his were the first pieces to have curved wooden structures, like the Tête-à-tête in this room. In addition to his New York showroom, Belter built a five-story factory had separate floors for each step in the process of furniture making from carpentry to upholstery; interestingly, people of different ethnicities worked in each department. For more photos on the Met's flickr page, click here.

Next, we encircled our little folding stools around a Herter Brothers Library Table built for the opulent Fifth Avenue mansion of William H. Vanderbilt.
The top is rosewood with inlaid mahogany and accurately placed mother-of-pearl constellations from Vanderbilt's birthday, May 8, 1821. I was glad to learn a little more about this stunningly beautiful piece, after all, I had admired it on many occasions.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Drawings by the Masters

The recently opened exhibition, Raphael to Renior: Drawings from the Collection of John Bonna, displays drawings by some of the greatest artists of all time. What I found most interesting was the great variety of work represented in this collection. Some drawings were sketchy, unfinished works, others were studies for paintings, and then there were completed colorful pieces.

The first drawing that caught my eye was A Wild Boar Piglet, by Hans Hoffmann - I know it's silly, but sometimes you gotta appreciate the cuteness factor. Among the dozens of other incredible drawings, the following stood out: Boucher's beautifully composed finished masterpieces; Watteau's three studies of people from different perspectives on each page; a tiny, simple Rembrandt pen and ink drawing; and a New Year's card by Victor Hugo.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Walker Evans: The Picture Postcard

Notable American photographer, Walker Evans, had a postcard collection... and it was a good one. So good, that photography department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art created an exhibition to display all the meticulously categorized postal treasures. Evans made sure to divide his collection by subject; be it windmills or beaches, small towns or exotic locales, there is a place for each and every piece of correspondence he received. It is a delight to look at the variety of subjects, all bearing the same early 20th century style.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday's Flowers

If you visit the Met as much as I do, you'll notice that the flower arrangement varies from week to week. That is because, every Monday, a twenty-seven-year-old Dutch man named Remco van Vliet painstakingly creates the five major arrangements in the Great Hall. From now on, I'll be posting a photo of the week's flowers on the corresponding Monday.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Farewell PDM

The exhibition, Philippe de Montebello: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions, ended today. To honor the now former director and highlight his incredible contribution to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, curators from every department collaborated to show the grandest of the 84,000 works acquired during his tenure.

Like Shigeyuki Kihara, I had planned on revisiting this exhibition much sooner — but there is just too much to see at the Met! I did take the time today, however, to fully absorb the breadth and importance of this show. Widely acclaimed for its unique blend of pieces from different cultures, time periods, and media, the exhibition is truly an unparalleled experience with some of the greatest highlights of art history.