Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), New York City

I love the Met. It’s a beautiful old columned white building next to Central Park.  Inside there’s bedlam getting tickets then because of the sheer expanse of exhibits everyone wanders off into relatively leisurely and uninterrupted viewing.  There were a lot of people indeed but once beyond the Great Hall entrance I didn’t feel jostled at all.  I loved that people still know the etiquette for art galleries and museums, no boom boxes, entourages, or flash cameras.  Indeed, these simple rules probably alone keep the low life outside the confines of high culture.
This was a rainy grey day, the best for enjoying museums and art galleries.
It was Laura’s first time and my second or third. Laura enjoyed my love of museums and art galleries in Ireland, England and Italy so was used to my personal ways of savouring such incredible spaces of wonder and joy.  I had downloaded the Met app a month earlier, knew the exhibits and still bought a couple of guides in the Met shop.  I enjoyed the Egyptian exhibits in ROM, British Museum, Athens and Istanbul but wanted most to focus on the European and American exhibits and Contemporary and Modern.  I simply love the Christian art of the 15th, 16th and 17th century revelling in the picture stories and especially enjoying every artists take on the Mother and Child.  I love t he Reubens, El Greco, Goyas
The mother and child is a bit like an artist’s exam, like the still life of fruit. It’s been done by so many through centuries yet each presentation of this simple so deep image is a unique interpretation and testimony to the faith and sense of the artist.  I like the biblical stories in art too, enjoying the realism, and considering the ‘take’ on a classic tale.  Rembrandt’s “Prodigal Son’ I saw in St. Petersburg remains an all time favourite.There were a whole lot of Rembrandt’s here. Lots of artists ‘portraitures’ and the daily household scenes.
Then there’s seeing the ‘classic’s’ paintings which have appeared over and over again in other books, magazines and shows and here there are, the original. That’s exciting.
I especially like the Impressionists, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh and more.
I like the history of art too seeing the development of perspective through history watching how ‘flat’s’ pictures developed beyond realism. Seeing the progress to super realism, surrealism, ideas of art, contemporary and modern art. I love the feeling  of the impressionists.  I especially liked seeing a Motherwell abstract this visit and enjoying it. I’m not much of a fan of abstract in general though love individual pieces.  The more art I see, the more I read, the more my taste is developed the better I appreciate the world of art as the accomplished artist might.  I so enjoy the works of Picasso as an example of a lifetime of art in one life. Everyone knows his abstract and cubist work. His ‘blue period’ is especially refined as realism and portraiture showing what an extraordinary talent he was as a ‘regular’ artist before he pushed the envelope in the many ways he did.  We loved the Chagall.
 The Met has it all. If I l lived in New York,  I’d come over and over again. Living in London I so enjoyed doing just that at the National Gallery, British Museum and Tate.  There is just so much to enjoy in a great museum.  The Met is truly a great museum.  I saw the genius of presentation and display in the Jerusalem exhibit. I’ve been to Jerusalem and Israel but was most impressed here at the ‘selection’.  Museum’s and art galleries aren’t random or hodge podge. There’s a special art in the showing of art. The Met does it so well.
Laura commented on how good it felt especially in the open light space of the American Modern exhibits a stark comparison to the dark and intense presentation of medieval works with crucifixions, swords and blood abounding. Each room had it’s own ambience.  I love walking in a museum or art gallery, stopping to study a work, imagining how the artists felt and what he was saying with this piece, considering it’s context. I like as much the other viewers.  There really are a collection of ‘types’ that visit museums.  The clothing is an expression to from a whole lot of the most chic fashion to the scruffy bespecled old person who comes to an art gallery as another might go for tea.
There’s sculpture too. The Rodin is always a thrill.  I actually bought a small  foot tall copy of the “Thinker’ when I was a student. I have no idea of where it is now.  Rodin like Picasso was a prolific artist but I like the pieces at the Met I’d never seen before.
Then there were the gold crosses and the Faberge eggs.  There’s just so many little wonders in a museum. Laura and I loved the century old plates and little boxes.  I love visitting the armoury museum in Istanbul and seeing an endless collection of implements of war.  Here there were few but there were a few swords of note in the Jerusalem exhibit.  We liked the tapestries and fabrics too that hung on the wall showing us something of how they covered the tacky walls of the drafty old stone castles.
I love the Met. What can I say.  It’s truly one of the greatest museums of all time.  I’m only sorry I couldn’t see all the exhibits. My legs and feet and back were aching by the time I turned to Laura and said “I really need a coffee break”.
 “I need to find a washroom first,” she said. We were delighted at how short the line was for the bathroom perhaps because beverages are not allowed.  The cafe was exquisite.  Looking out on Central Park watching joggers get a different kind of exercise. The Americano was elixir and the pulled chicken sandwich a treat. The cafe’s in art galleries and museums are always the best. We reminisced about the many fond dining experiences we’d had at the Vancouver Gallery.  The Winnipeg Gallery cafe brings back good memories as well.  The service here was impeccable and we relaxed.  We were so blessed. And lucky too as we finished our meal the cafe was closing.  Perfect timing.
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