Friday, November 14, 2014

An Autumnal Abundance of Art -- New York 2014 UPDATED

The New York art museum scene is never dull, but at most times it seems manageable.  Occasionally, however, it erupts with the force of a volcano and it's hard to know what to look at first.  This autumn promises to be one such time.  With a few exceptions every major museum is planning something amazing within the period from now till the end of the year.  Here's a rundown of shows that might be of interest to readers of this blog.

I'll start with the METROPOLITAN MUSEUM (Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street) where I volunteer.  Currently on view are the following:
In Miniature (open till December 31).  This is a small show of delicate European miniature portraits from two distinct eras, that occupies just one room, .  One of the groups comes from Tudor England and the other from late 18th and early 19th century France.  The English group is of particular interest because of two portraits by Hans Holbein the Younger.  The sitters were William Roper and Margaret More Roper, the daughter and son-in-law of St. Thomas More. 
Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age (open till January 4, 2015).  A stunning review of the art of the Ancient Near East as it traveled the Mediterranean trade routes from its original homeland in Iraq through Palestine, Crete, Italy and as far as the Iberian peninsula.  There are fabulous items on loan from the British Museum.  And don't forget to visit the Met's own Ancient Near Eastern galleries, where similar items are on display.  This is the world in which much of the Old Testament was set.
Grand Design:  Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry (open till January 11, 2015). Tapestry is an often overlooked form of art in the present day.  But in the late medieval period and the Renaissance it was one of the most important and visible forms of decoration for those who could afford it. The tapestries designed by Coecke van Aelst rivaled those of Raphael and may even have surpassed them. The works on display are in fabulous condition, the large areas woven in gold thread are still gleaming.  Also features some wonderful altarpieces by the artist and a good display on how tapestries are made.
Cubism:  The Leonard Lauder Collection (open till February 16, 2015).  This is the long-anticipated presentation to the public of Leonard Lauder's planned gift of his great collection of Cubist art to the museum.  This gift moves the Met's Modern collection from the second tier of collections to the top tier. Judging by the amount of interest shown in it even before it opened, this will probably be a very popular exhibition.
Thomas Hart Benton's America Today Mural Rediscovered (open till April 19, 2015).  Presents Benton's huge mural, once installed at the New School's boardroom, and recently donated to the museum along with preparatory drawings and paintings and other related materials.  The mural is installed to replicate its original placement and offers Benton's reflections on the reality of life in the United States in the 1920s, including the good, the bad and some of the ugly in a nation at work and play, from the farm to industry to city life.  It's already very popular.
Also currently worth a look are: Amie Siegel:  Provenance (open till January 4, 2015), Kimono: A Modern History (open till January 19, 2015), Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire (open till February 1, 2015), and Thomas Struth: Photographs (open till February 16, 2015).
El Greco in New York (opening November 4 and running till February 1, 2015).  This will be a combined exhibition of the El Greco holdings from the Met and from the Hispanic Society of America, a too-little known museum devoted to the art of Spain and Spanish America that is located in upper Manhattan, in honor of the 400th anniversary of the master's death.  See also the El Greco exhibition that the Frick will be mounting at the same time.
Bartholomeus Spranger:  Splendor and Eroticism in Imperial Prague (opening November 4 and running till February 1, 2015).  Spranger was an important Northern Mannerist and this is the first exhibition devoted to him in the United States.  The Northern Mannerists produced paintings that display the impact of the High Renaissance and Italian Mannerist painting on the jewel-like art of the Low Countries and lands of the Holy Roman Empire.  It should be interesting.  

The Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Creche (opens November 25 and closes January 6, 2015). This is the beloved annual display of the Baroque creche figures given to the museum by the late Loretta Hines Howard and her family (and overseen by them) that reminds New Yorkers and visitors alike of the real reason for all the hoopla of the festive season.  It isn't Christmas in New York until you see this tree and its surrounding figures.

And on your way in and out don't forget to notice the newly opened David H. Koch Plaza.  It's really nice and a vast improvement on the past!  Whatever your opinion of Mr. Koch, this was an amazingly generous gift to the museum and the city.

UPDATE!  On November 11th the Met unveiled the greatly missed statue of Adam by Tullio Lombardo, one of the great sculptors of the Venetian High Renaissance.
 The Adam is the first life-sized nude marble statue since
antiquity and the most important Italian Renaissance sculpture in North America.   In October 2002 the plywood support for the statue buckled, sending the famous statue to the marble floor of the gallery in which it was displayed and breaking it into 28 major and dozens of small fragments.  It has taken all of twelve years to complete the restoration.  The small exhibition surrounding the unveiling of the restored Adam demonstrates the process.

Now, on to other locations:
The MORGAN LIBRARY has one exhibition of intense interest.
The Crusader Bible:  A Gothic Masterpiece (closes January 4, 2015).  While this great manuscript, illustrating parts of the Old Testament, is in process of getting a new binding, 40 of the 46 pages owned by the Morgan will be on display.  The manuscript dates from the mid-twelfth century and may have been painted for St. Louis (Louis IX of France).  Its wanderings are rather amazing too! Check them out on the exhibition website .

The MUSEUM OF BIBLICAL ART is showing a traveling print exhibition, Dürer, Rembrandt, Tiepolo: The Jansma Master Prints Collection from the Grand Rapids Art Museum.   The exhibition will also include additional items not from the Jansma collection.  

And finally, THE FRICK COLLECTION is presenting two exhibitions, one from its own collections and one traveling exhibitions.

El Greco at the Frick Collection (opening November 4 and running till February 1, 2015).  This exhibition of the three great El Grecos in the Frick will be specially displayed concurrently with the El Greco exhibition at the Met.
Masterpieces from the Scottish National Gallery (opening November 5 and running till February 1, 2015). This is a display of a small portion of the works from the Scottish National Galleries that will also be traveling to San Francisco and Fort Worth later in 2015 and will include works from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century that compliment works in the Frick.

In addition the Museum of Modern Art is currently running Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs (running till February 8, 2015) which might be of interest as well.  The Guggenheim and Neue Gallerie are not currently running exhbitions that reflect the concerns of this blog, but that's OK.  They just ended spectacular shows on Futurism and on Degenerate Art:  the Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany that were well worth visits.   The Whitney Museum of Art just wound up its successful Jeff Koons exhibition and is preparing for its move from Madison Avenue to the Meatpacking District early next year.  The galleries are closed.

So, if you are in the New York area at any time between now and early February 2015 there is a LOT to see. Enjoy it all!

© M. Duffy, 2014

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