One to Another

November 27, 2009

11/27/09 An Evening at the Met

Filed under: 3-Museum visits, 5-Related Topics — pendantportraits @ 9:26 pm

The early evening drive from Yonkers to Manhattan was direct and fast. Jacque parked in the garage, so it was mere steps into the museum, Jesse’s first Met visit.

We began in the exhibition of Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, and then went our own ways, until rejoining for refreshments. I stayed in the Vermeer exhibition for a long while, relishing the density of works in the four small rooms of the exhibition. The Vermeers are like low resolution digital images that look pretty clear from a distance (zoomed out), yet the closer one gets (zoomed in), the less detailed the works reveal themselves to be. The forms are out of visual reach. I purchased the slender soft-cover exhibition publication for the color images and details. The text spends too much time creating a premise for the sexual allusions of the work; however, the discussion of the work’s provenance was interesting. This is only the second time that The Milkmaid has been in the U.S.; John and I saw the work at the Rijksmuseum in 1993.

The Watteau and Music exhibition was also in its final days. The drawings were gems, fresh and light, and beautifully matted with stacked layers, and French lining. The Watteau paintings were both bold and delicate, particularly the ones on copper, and the inclusion of Meissen figurines in the show was the complement that was intended. I bought the catalog for John (which he had requested). It is an excellent publication, so I chose the hard cover.

The Velazquez Rediscovered exhibition was in the adjacent gallery. The featured, recently-cleaned painting, possibly a self-portrait, was exquisite, using paint like a couture designer combines fabrics. The portrait head of the Infanta Margarita Teresa was remarkable.

On our walk to the American Stories exhibition, we passed through the American period rooms, where there were a couple of companion portraits. One entered the American Stories exhibition by passing between an oversized pair of companion portraits.

The American Stories exhibition was a sprawling delight, so many artists without which our American cultural lineage would be incomplete. It was a great show to see with a seven year old. For instance, the opening volley was Copley’s Watson and the Shark paired with Homer’s Gulfstream. The next room in the show dealt with portraits, where I learned from a double portrait of two sisters that a woman’s eligibility for marriage may be signaled by her pose. If she is of age, she may be shown frontally; if not, then, in profile.

The work of Winslow Homer stood out to me, for its embedded meaning and for its powerful projection from a distance. The wall text provided a visual bonus for many of his paintings: photographic documentation of the works as first exhibited or published to compare to the work in their final state.

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