In my last post on “One day in New York City” I wrote about my visit to the Metropolitan museum of Art – the mother of all museums and a temple of art. The one on Fifth avenue that I visited, is over 2 million sqft in area and has over 5000 years of art. Before my visit, I had planned on seeing the Greek exhibit, Some renaissance paintings, Impressionist wing and the Manus Machina exhibit as I thought only that was possible in the four hours that I had there. But as soon as I stepped inside I became greedy, (yes, this was the FOMO that I was talking about in my previous posts) and wanted to see more. I ended up seeing both the Greek and Roman wings, the Polynesian, Americas, and a part of the Arts of Africa wing, Modern art – realism, Impressionism, a little bit of post-modern art, a portion of the Old masters section, the Manus Machina exhibit, a section of the Byzantine gallery, and the Egyptian section with the mummies and the temple. To streamline the visit, I looked only at Jewelry and accessory exhibits in the Roman, Americas, and Egyptian wing.
Here are pictures of a few favourites. You can find the pictures from the impressionist wing in my post on Expression of impressions. I apologise in advance for the dull and sometimes unsharp pictures; a lot of the exhibits had dim lighting and flash photography was not permitted.
Greek and Roman
These were the first two galleries that I saw and they far surpassed my expectations. Even after seeing the entire gallery I couldn’t believe the amazing craftsmanship of the jewelry that was displayed. I have studied Greek art and taught Greek ideals and costumes for a while now but truth be told I never expected them to be so well made with intricate work and luscious stones. The Intaglio rings and Signet rings of the emperors and officers in garnet and coral were fascinating.
Of all the jewelry that I saw, I was most fascinated by this Greek Hair bun ornament. I have seen variations of this ( Kondai valai – Hair burn fillet) being worn in India, but I never expected to see a Greek version of it, that too it gold. The round focal is reminiscent of the traditional Indian “Naga choodamani” where a snake is the focal instead of a woman’s face. Could this have been a probable Indo-Greek Design collaboration?
Polynesia and Americas
This was the wing I didn’t even plan to see – I thin I might not find anything more than some totems or masks here. Boy, I was wrong. This was the wing that I spent the most time in and enjoyed the most. I was like watching all the ‘Treasure hunt” movies at once and being transported to an era that was mythical, rich and full of glory.
How can I write a post about the Met and not include the precious Water lilies? In true impressionist ideology, Monet recorded the play of light and time at the same place on the same object (the lily pond) over and over again. As this was the time when photography was introduced, Monet wanted to produce paintings that like photographs depended on the light. This is one of four pictures of water lilies (out of the series of over 250 paintings) that Claude Monet finished, signed, and sold.
Prelude to a Civilization by Victor Brauner was another painting that really attracted me. The figures were almost as primitive as Warli (of India) but with bright colors and a background texture.
I am a big used of surrealistic concepts in my work, so I used this opportunity to see one of Dali’s famous surrealistic paintings – Christ of Saint John of the Cross, up close and personal.
Even those you who very little about western art would have heard of Pablo Picasso and cubism. Here is a Self-portrait of Picasso. I tried to take a selfie staring into the camera like he does in the portrait but it came out looking very scary and I had to crop me out of it. 😀
A few of the pictures in the hall made me stop, whip out my camera and take pictures. Why? The subjects of those paintings wore ruffs, whisk collars, engageantes of lace – items of clothing that I teach about in Costume appreciation. There was Marie Antoinette in La Levite, in Robe De Anglaise and men in breeches and surcoats. It was a pity that I couldn’t stay there was long and admire the garments. In my hurry, I forgot to even note who the artists of these paintings were.
Here are some pieces from the Spanish Hall, a charming corridor that made me stop in my tracks as I was running down to see Raphael. I was spellbound by the beauty of these jewels.
To add to my collection of Chainmail and armour photographs, I clicked one of this parade of statues (German Man and horse armour by Kunz Lochner) and stood there to admire them for awhile
As I was trying to find my way out of one of the gallery when I missed a turn and landed up in a niche which had a small display of products. I almost left, but then, I thought I saw something familiar – Siphon bottles by Norman Bel Geddes. Muffling a yippee, I spent 10 minutes with designs of my most favourite product designers of all time – Norman Bel Geddes, Raymond Loewy, Wolfgang Hoffmann and Henry Dreyfuss. I muttered a “thank you” to my design history teacher Deepa Kamath Ma’am who had opened my eyes to the world of art and design back in 2004, making me who I am today.
I have tens of pictures left and tons of memories that I can recount, but considering that I have been trying to write this post for the past 2 weeks, I am going to stop here and let it go. If I ever get a chance to visit New York once again I would really love to spend at least 2-3 full days at the Met Museum and take in the essence of art without running like a madwoman and taking pictures.
1. Avoid carrying backpacks, however, small they might be; You’ll be asked to wear them in the front, which is inconvenient
2. If you want to click pictures of famous paintings in crowded halls, try taking selfies. The crowd will leave you alone and you get to be in frame along with your favourite painting
3. The museum is open on all days; but only till 5:30 PM in the evenings and galleries are cleared around 5:15- 5:20 pm. If you want to see more than 2-3 sections properly, reach early – around 10:30 AM so that you don’t have to run like me
4. You can enter by pay $5-$10 as entry fees so spend money in the museum shops to support art as much as you can. Alternatively, make a larger donation.
5. It is a huge place, so little children and elders might find it very tiring. The best way to the museum is by yourself or with a friend who knows art history. Guided empty met tours are also available.
6. Cell phone cameras seem to capture pieces in glass cases better than DSLR cameras and vice versa for the canvas paintings; so carry both if you want to take lots of clear pictures.
7. Around closing, only the restrooms near the Greek gallery are open so plan accordingly.
8. Exhibits keep changing throughout the year – so be prepared for surprises. Regardless of which exhibit you go to you’ll find something interesting and informative.
I hope you found it interesting