The Met is undergoing a relative transformation. Recently, the museum changed its logo, settled a lawsuit with respect to their ‘suggested’ pricing, and plan to break ground on the gut renovation of its Modern and contemporary galleries on 5th Avenue. Coinciding with this new construction is an eight year lease of Marcel Breuer’s Brutalist masterpiece on Madison Avenue from the Whitney Museum to continue to highlight its Modern and contemporary art. In doing so, The Met is making a greater commitment to art in the present tense.
On March 18th, The Met Breuer will open to the public with two exhibitions, Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible and a monographic exhibition of artist Nasreen Mohamed. Both exhibitions are a safe entry into a new territory and do not to foreshadow any radical course or thinking. It is The Met after all, one can count on a certain amount of erudition, curatorial precision, and adherence to the past. There is no rainbow “HELL,YES!” hanging from the facade.
Future plans include an exhibition of little known photographs from Diane Arbus and a Kerry James Marshall retrospective, where the artist will combine works curated from The Met’s collection with his own diverse body of work. Included in the inaugural exhibition is Relation: A Performance Residency from pianist Vijay Iyer as well as an experimental film series from Thomas Beard of Light Industry.
Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible creates a nice balance between old and new with 179 works ranging from the Renaissance to present day. The exhibition’s insistence on subjectivity and participation falls in line with contemporary art formula. The unfinished work creates a tension between the artist and viewer and engages the viewer’s imagination in ways a completed work would not.
Here is a sneak peek:
A student work of Gerhard Richter, Stag, (1963) shows the early inclination of the artist’s ability to blur nostalgia.
Robert Smithson’s Mirrors and Shelly Sand, (1967-70) is unfinished in an infinite sense, reflecting displacement.
Luc Tuyman’s massive Still Life (2002) created for Documenta of the same year. The artist, expected to comment on the events of 9/11, created an alternative statement instead. Saatchigallery.com describes it as such:
“Luc Tuymans chose the subject of still life precisely because it was utterly unremarkable; a generic ’brand’ of ’object’ rendered to immense scale; it is banality expanded to the extreme. The simplicity of Luc Tuymans’s composition alludes to a pure and uninterrupted world order; the ephemeral light, with which the canvas seems to glow, places it as an epic masterpiece of metaphysical and spiritual contemplation. In response to unimaginable horror, Luc Tuymans offers the sublime. A gaping magnitude of impotency, which neither words nor paintings could ever express.”
“Banality rendered to the extreme,” encapsulates the last exhibition within these walls, the Whitney’s Jeff Koons Retrospective. The contrast between the Koons’ show and The Met’s Unfinshed exhibition is striking. Koons’ parade of kitsch and fabricated baubles of gleaming perfection erase the hand (and the soul), while Unfinished brings the process into greater focus.
Perhaps the greatest intuition of the show is the artist’s mind laid bare. The technique of creating illusion from underpainting to final composition is revealed. In cinema, they call it breaking the fourth wall.
See if you can recognize the artists behind these works…
Someone once said “a work is either sold or abandoned.” The Met gives us a salvaged history of that in between state.