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Impressionism, Fashion and Mordernity Exhibition at the Met
Inside the Met special exhibition Impressionism Fashion and Modernity.
A special exhibition called Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity was on at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and I was able to see it just before it ended its three month stay. Prior to this it had been in Paris at the Musee d’Orsay, and it is now heading for The Art Institute of Chicago (where it will be on display from June 26 until September 22). That will be the last stop on the three stop tour before the works go home to their respective collections.
As photography was not permitted inside the exhibition (it is allowed inside the Met most places, just not in special exhibitions containing works the Met does not own) I rely on photos from the NY Times supplemented by photos I took of images in the guide book. They were strict in enforcing the no photos rule as a Japanese tourist got an earful when he whipped out his Nikon to attempt to photograph the scene pictured above. His attempt was unsuccessful.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is without doubt one of the greatest museums on earth. One could spend days wandering around inside and it is easy to get lost. The place is massive! It feels like the Musee d’Orsay could fit inside the entrance hall at the Met. Here is an bird’s eye view taken from the back - it takes up a few city blocks:
What is special about this exhibition is that it combines items from the fashion holdings and displays them alongside the Impressionist paintings that feature those items of 19th century clothing. It is a simple concept but quite visually impressive - seeing the dress next to a painting of the dress shows how the world enters a famous painting, and how the artist sometimes improves upon the fashion to create an even finer painting.
There were a number of paintings in the exhibition that were on loan from Paris as well as from collections in the United States.
It was an elegant age in which to have one’s portrait painted. A black and white photograph would not have captured the life and colour of the scene here:
On loan to the Met from the Philadelphia Museum of Art was one of my favourite Impressionist paintings - Mart Cassatt’s ‘Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge’ from 1879:
I think that is my favourite dress in any Impressionist painting. Description of the painting from the Philadelphia Museum: Cassatt (American 1844-1926) created a series of theater scenes in the late 1870s, displaying an interest in city nightlife shared by many of the Impressionists. This work, showing a woman (often said to be her sister Lydia) seated in front of a mirror with the balconies of the Paris Opéra House reflected behind her, demonstrates the influence of Cassatt’s friend Edgar Degas, particularly in the attention paid to the effects of artificial lighting on flesh tones. This painting was shown in Paris at the fourth Impressionist exhibition in 1879, where it was singled out for much praise.
I am glad I was able to see this exhibition while in New York. It gives one a sense of awe to be in rooms with great art, and the rooms inside this exhibition were not crowded so made for peaceful reflection and appreciation.
After leaving the 2nd floor exhibition, I took a few moments to visit some of my favourite works that reside in the Met on a permanent basis. One in particular I stopped by to revisit was the plaster model for Cupid and Psyche created by Antonio Canova in Rome in 1794:
They don’t sell a 1:1 scale reproduction of this statue in the gift shop.
When I came to New York by myself for the first time I was eighteen, and the very first thing I did was go to the Met. On arriving there, I saw this Canova statue and I greatly admired it. Flash forward to October of 2012 and I was in New York with some friends, and, after returning home, I posted a photo of this statue (among many other photos from the Met and from other places in NYC) in an online photo album on a social networking site for my friends to see and comment on. Low and behold if Emma didn’t visit my online album and post that she loves this statue (even though she hasn’t visited New York to see it in person). We both loved the same statue. So now whenever I am in New York and visit my old friend the Canova statue at the Met, I think that, in this instance, Emma and I have similar taste in art. Since our taste in music was never exactly eye to eye, I enjoy the fact that she loves this statue too.
So, this concludes my spring dining adventures in New York, and I will be back posting tomorrow from Canada. I hope my travels around Manhattan were enjoyable for you to read about, and stay tuned for more observations and reviews!