Category Archives: Metropolitan Museum

Kerry James Marshall at the Met-Breuer, NYC


Souvenir I, 1997, by Kerry James Marshall. Acrylic and glitter on canvas banner. Met-Breuer, New York.


Untitled, 2009, by Kerry James Marshall. Acrylic on PVC panel. Met-Breuer, New York.

Mastry, a major survey of the work of Kerry James Marshall at the Met-Breuer in New York, includes 80 pieces that span the artist’s 35-year career. Marshall’s richly detailed, large-scale narrative paintings feature black figures in historical tableaus, landscapes, genre painting and portraiture.  His work counters stereotypical representations of black people in society and comments on the history of black identity both in the United States and in Western art. The exhibition is powerful and especially relevant in our times of deepening racial divisions.


Slow Dance, 1992-3, by Kerry James Marshall. Acrylic and collage on canvas. Met-Breuer, New York.

Marshall was born in 1955 in Birmingham, Alabama before the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and he was a witness to the Watts rebellion in 1965.  In his PBS Art21 special, Marshall said, “You can’t be born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1955 and grow up in South Central [Los Angeles] near the Black Panthers headquarters, and not feel like you’ve got some kind of social responsibility. You can’t move to Watts in 1963 and not speak about it. That determined a lot of where my work was going to go…”  Marshall is a 1978 graduate of the Otis College of Art and Design and currently lives and works in Chicago.

For in-depth articles on the artist’s influences and motivation, read Holland Carter’s article for the New York Times entitled Kerry James Marshall’s Paintings Show What It Means to be Black in America and Wyatt Mason’s feature for the New York Times Magazine, Kerry James Marshall is Shifting the Color of Art History.

Kerry James Marshall. Photo: Oliver Chanarin & Adam Broomberg, New York Times Magazine.

Kerry James Marshall. Photo: Oliver Chanarin & Adam Broomberg, New York Times Magazine.

For a look at all of Marshall’s pieces in the exhibition, here are the Met’s exhibition thumbnails.  The exhibition also includes 40 works from the Met’s collection curated by Mashall that display the global and historical influences on his art.

Kerry James Marshall: MASTRY is on view at The Met Breuer, New York City, October 25, 2016–January 29, 2017, and then travels to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, March 12–July 2, 2017.



The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky at the Met

Lakota Eagle Feather Headdress, c. 1865

Lakota Chief Eagle Feather Headdress, c. 1865

“The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art features 130 objects on loan from more than 50 international collections, ranging in age from pre-contact to contemporary pieces.  It has been called “one of the most completely beautiful sights in New York right now”  in Holland Cotter’s review in the New York Times.

The early Plains people had no written language, and they recorded histories and cultural and spiritual meanings through utilitarian and ceremonial art. They combined materials from the natural world to evoke the spiritual powers of animals, and later, incorporated goods acquired through trade with Europeans.  In his audio introduction to the exhibition, Curator Gaylord Torrence explains that while there was no word for “art” and no special class of “artists” in Plains Indian culture, the creators of these works were extraordinary individuals who were known and honored among their tribes and sometimes beyond.

The geographical area of the Plains cultures extended from Texas to Canada and from the Mississippi River to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  Nations represented include Osage, Quapaw, Omaha, Crow, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Lakota, Blackfeet, Pawnee, Kiowa, Comanche, Mesquakie and Kansa.


Woman’s Dress, c. 1855

The masterworks in the exhibition include an array of forms and media:  painting and drawing; sculptural works in stone, wood, antler and shell; porcupine quill and glass bead embroidery; feather work; painted robes, richly ornamented clothing and ceremonial objects.  Many of the works were collected centuries ago by French traders on their travels through America and ended up in French, not American, museums–particularly the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, where the exhibition originated in 4/14.  It then traveled to the Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City and was shown there from 9/14 – 1/15 before coming to the Met.

Pawnee Ghost Dance Drum, c. 1891

Pawnee Ghost Dance Drum, c. 1891

For more background on the exhibition and its major pieces, listen to the Met’s accompanying audio guide by curators Gaylord Torrence and Judith Ostrowitz, artists Edgar Heap of Birds and Dana Claxton, along with narration by Cheryl Crazy Bull, president of the American Indian College Fund.  All of the exhibition objects are illustrated and described on the Metropolitan Museum’s exhibition website. Click on any of the images in this post for a direct link to the Met’s description.


Girl’s Dress, c. 1900


The Plains Indians:  Artists of Earth and Sky continues through May 10, 2015.  The Met is open 7 days a week:  Sun-Thurs, 10-5:30, Fri-Sat:  10-9 & closed on major holidays.  1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street) New York, NY 10028  Phone: 212-535-7710.

Art Appraisal San Francisco – Lauder Cubism Collection at the Met

Fernand Léger, Composition (The Typographer),1918-19), by

Fernand Léger, Composition (The Typographer),1918-19), by

Cubism: The Leonard A Lauder Collection now on view at the Metropolitan Museum in New York is considered one of the most important assemblages of Cubist art in the world.

The collection consists of 81 paintings, drawings, collages, works on paper and a few sculptures by Cubism’s four giants: Georges Braque (1882-1963), Juan Gris (1887-1927), Fernand Léger (1881-1965) and Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Most of the work dates from 1907 to 1918, and the Met has posted images of each of the pieces here.  The trove of signature works is valued at more than $1 billion.

New York Times art writer, Roberta Smith states in her comprehensive review that  “the work outlines the genesis of the modernist movement that set the stage for almost all others.”  Accompanying her article is a 13-image slide show of the work in place.

Georges Braque, Still Life: "2ᵉ étude, 1914

Georges Braque, Still Life: “2ᵉ étude, 1914

The collection raises the Met’s profile as an institution for modern and contemporary art considerably, since its holdings in that area were very limited before. Thomas Campbell, the museum’s director said that “In one fell swoop this puts the Met at the forefront of early-20th-century art.  It is an unreproducible collection, something museum directors only dream about.”

Leonard A. Lauder, philanthropist and chairman emeritus of Estée Lauder, amassed the collection over a period of 40 years.  The Met has posted a video in which Lauder talks about his lifelong interest in collecting, from picture postcards and posters to Cubist works of art.  He said that when he discovered Cubism, “I found something I was really able to relate to, and I liked the concept of looking in depth at a moment in time.”

Lauder bought his first piece of Cubist art in 1976:  a Léger. In her review of the exhibition, New York Times art writer Carol Vogel reports:  Mr. Lauder said that “nobody wanted” Cubist art for the first 20 years he collected it, so it was still affordable. And early on, he knew that one day he would donate the collection to a museum. He said, “Before buying something, the question I always ask myself is this: If it were going to a museum, would it make the cut? If the answer is yes, then that’s what I buy.” The collection he put together now rivals that of major museums worldwide.

Juan Gris, Still Life With Checked Tablecloth, 1915

Juan Gris, Still Life With Checked Tablecloth, 1915

The Lauder Collection exhibition continues through February 16, 2015.  The Met is open 7 days a week:  Sun-Thurs, 10-5:30, Fri-Sat:  10-9 & closed on major holidays.  If you go, get there early — best, right when it opens — because the exhibition gets crowded very quickly.  1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street) New York, NY 10028  Phone: 212-535-7710

Leonard A. Lauder

Art Collector Leonard A. Lauder





Thomas Hart Benton’s epic “America Today” at the Met

ThomasHartBentonAmericaTodayMETThomas Hart Benton’s 1930’s epic  “America Today, Mural Rediscovered” is on display at the Met for the first time since acquisition in 2012.

The 10-panel, wrap-around mural cycle was commissioned in 1930 for the boardroom of Manhattan’s New School for Social Research and is one of Benton’s most famous works. It depicts a panoramic sweep of rural and urban American life on the eve of the Great Depression and shows everyday people in scenes of life during that time–flappers, farmers, steel workers burlesque dancers, Wall Street tycoons and more.

Lance EsplundBenton of the Wall Street Journal called the mural “A roiling, illustrative melting-pot nearly 8 feet tall…it serves up the good, the bad and the ugly in equal measure.”  Read the rest of his article for further description and history.

The Met is displaying the massive seven-and-a-half foot tall murals in a faithful replica of the 30-by-22-foot boardroom for which the piece was originally created. On view in an adjacent gallery are Benton’s studies and sketches for the mural.  Painter Jackson Pollock was Benton’s student during this time and he served as a model for several of the mural’s figures. Here’s the Met’s video curatorial overview of the installation.

Thomas Hart Benton (1989-1975) was born in Missouri, studied in Paris and lived in New York for more than 20 years before returning to the Midwest to live and work.

Thomas Hart Benton industrial“Thomas Hart Benton’s ‘America Today’ Mural Rediscovered” is in the Met’s American Wing, and will remain on view through April 19, 2015.  The Met is open 7 days a week:  Sun-Thurs, 10-5:30, Fri-Sat:  10-9 & closed on major holidays.  1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street) New York, NY 10028  Phone: 212-535-7710

Thomas Hart Benton portrait

Thomas Hart Benton, Ken Burns PBS photo

The Future Whitney Museum: A Preview


The new Whitney from the High Line

The Whitney Museum closed its Madison Avenue location yesterday (10/19/14) when its blockbuster Jeff Koons retrospective ended.  More than 250,000 people saw the exhibition since it opened in June. The museum ended things with a bang, staying open 36 continuous hours during the final weekend. Whitney Director Adam Weinberg said, “This will not only give more people an opportunity to see the Koons retrospective, it’s also a chance for some to say goodbye to the Breuer building as it was.”  The closing weekend drew huge crowds.

The new Whitney Museum building in lower Manhattan is nearing completion and is scheduled to open in spring, 2015.  Check out the video preview. Designed by architect Renzo Piano and situated between the High Line and the Hudson River, the new 200,000 square foot space will vastly increase the Whitney’s exhibition and programming space. The new building is located at Washington and Gansevoort Streets in the Meatpacking District, a 20-square block neighborhood bordered to the north and east by Chelsea and to the south by the West Village. The building project began in 2007.


The new Whitney from the Hudson River

Renzo Piano is widely acknowledged as the master of museum design.  He has designed 25 museums, 14 in the US alone, and he understands well the needs of board directors, curators, the visiting public and the spatial needs of the art itself.  According to Donna de Salvo, chief curator of the Whitney, “Our curators and the architects had an ongoing dialogue throughout the design of this building. Our curatorial voice was central to the discussion and they have given us a terrifically dynamic building, a uniquely responsive array of spaces for art.”

When the new building opens, the Metropolitan Museum of Art plans to present exhibitions and educational programming at the former Whitney’s uptown building for a period of eight years, with the possibility of extending the agreement for a longer term.  The Met’s lease begins in the spring of 2016 and runs through 2023.