Saturday, August 14, 2010

In the Big Apple: A Day at the Met

Yesterday I spent a the afternoon and early evening at The Met. Lucky me, they were open 'til 9:00, so I had lots of options. I paid my $20 (it's suggested, but you can pay less) and headed straight for "my" exhibit.
It was the special Picasso in the Metropolotan Museum of Art exhibit that brought me to New York (well, I also came to celebrate my friend Kelly's birthday, but it's why I stayed after she left. It's a neat exhibit, as the Met brought all of their own Picassos out of storage and made a rather remarkable show, spanning his career. It was also unique for a special exhibit, as you could take photos (normally only allowed in permanent exhibits, if at all). BTW, the exhibit closes August 15.

At the start of the exhibit, they had these four photographs that Picasso took of himself in his Paris studio in 1915/16. In this one he is wearing a metal worker's jacket (in the others he wears boxer shorts, a suit and a porter's smock). They were enlarged to about 6' tall, so a fitting exhibit entrance statement.
The exhibit started off with some an early harlequin and some rather Renior-ish portraits, then moved to his blue period. As I have been lucky enough to have seen Picasso's major works at the Met previously, and several Picasso exhibits/museums overseas, what you'll see here are some things that just captured my interest, and were, for the most part, new to me.
While Picasso created a lot of erotic works in his later years, he didn't create many of them in his early years, which makes this unique. He apparently had a very active sexual life as a young man, though much with prostitutes, which is probably the scene here.There was lovely series of 87 pieces, all maybe 3" x 3", including one self portrait. The rest were of people who were his benefactors or others who had helped his career. This one is of Roman Casas, one of the four co-founders of the famouse cafe El Quatre Cats in Barcelona, where Pablo spent a lot of his time, and created it's famous menu. I ate there in January, so it holds a special spot in my heart.
Last year a tourish tripped and fell and landed on this painting, ripping the lower right hand corner. They told the story on the audio guide, including the fact that they were fortunately able to restore it.They also said that for works so old that it would be unusal for there not to have been a few repairs at this point). Still, I would NOT have wanted to be that tourist!
They had a good section on Picasso's early cubism works. This portrait caught my eye. The colours were great, though they don't show up that well here. It's a vairly small piece, which I think is why it works.
This piece, Standing Female Nude, was ridiculed when it was first exhibited. But it was key in his early cubism work.
In this piece, Picasso uses newspapers pasted to the surface, collage style, to create texture and in the case of the brown, the colour. My audio guide told me that at first it was believed that the newspaper clippings were random...
.... but it turns out that the clipping that makes up the main part of the violin is about a young woman who takes her own life over unrequited love:
This is another work in which Picasso uses materials applied to the surface... ... including sand, as you can see in this closeup:
Apparently this work (above) started out as largely white and yellow, which is surprising given it's final state. The reason they know this is that the Met did a full re-analysis of all their Picasso works prior to the exhibit, using modern methods. They had a whole rooms set up where they showed what they found on 7 or 8 works (remarkable, as they found 2-3 paintings below many of Picasso's final works).

Now for something completely different... here is a portrait of Gertrude Stein:
Picasso did a lot of portraits when he was broke. While some were realistic, others were more artsy. I liked this one:
Here's a closeup of a section of another:
One thing I learned from the audio guide (which I have learned to always get now... this one was $7 but included the rest of the msuuem for the day)... was that once Picasso moved into graphic arts, he didn't paint extensively for that period. They had great displays from this period. This is a good example, made from a lino cut...
.... and this one was made from the same lino cut...
... and this was the actual lino cut:
I like how they grouped them in the exhibit and described the process used to create them. The piece below of the watermelon under the light bulb was just fun:
This was a close up of part of one piece that I just loved...
This is a close up of part of a piece featuring Venus and Cupid:
Now this was one of the most interesting things they showed. Apparently Picasso enjoyed taking famous older works and doing his own versions, making them fresh again. Here they are showing them all ined up: Picasso's final version at the top, his lino cut in the middle, and a picture of the original work below. This example is of a Manet that Picasso did this with.
This is the info on the Manet (you can click to enlarge and read it if you wish):
Loved this!! I thought roadrunner at first (!), but it's an ostrich which Picasso did as part of a commission of animals for a book.
A nice Dora, especially as you can see the detail nicely.
This faun piece caught my attention:
Cool pic, called Picasso and Fishbone. Here's another pic, though I really couldn't capture it clearly... but it is i apic of Picsso in his studio (look closely, he's in there!)
The last room - to my delight - was dedicated to Picasso's famous 347 Series. Also known as 347 Suite, the 347 works were created by Picasso a 3-week long torrent just before his 87th birthday. I'd learned about 347 series at an exhibit at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Secret Images: Picasso and Japanese Erotic Prints (including his private collection) and was dying to see more. (I couldn't find a good article to link to on this that wasn't associated with a private gallery selling pieces.... if any reader of this blog knows of one, please send it along! thanks).
It is impossible to do credit to any of these through photos, as the lines are so tiny, buthere are a few bits from which you can get a sense (click to enlarge any pic for a better view):

Aren't they wonderful? My dream is to own a book of them all.... Anyways, at the end of the exhibit, they used this sign from a 1964 Picasso exhibit in Berlin. Cool.
Whew! I'd spent hours, and was tuckered. After a quick trip to the cafeteria for a bite to eat, I headed up to the rooftop garden:
The bar was open, so I splurged on a $8 beer and sort-of mingled, but mostly sought out a spot to sit and rest my feet. And people watch.
The tourists were outnumbered by the local beautiful people, members I assume, who stop by here on Friday evenings for a drink. I did see some interesting things, and overheard some interesting stuff! Didn't make me want to be part of that crowd, but it sure was fun. Now... what are these people pointing at?
It's a special exhibit called Big Bambu that is being built over 8 months. There are even walkways up high (open to tours only), so there are people up there! It's rather cool.
It did feel a lot like arriving at a grand party, as in being invited to a private party in an exclusive spot.... If you are in NYC before it ends in October, it's really worth going up. Oh, there was smooching going on in amongst the bamboo.... Must have been the influence of the setting sun...
Afterwards I did also wander through the Hipsters, Hustlers and Hand Balls Exhibit which featured the black and white New York photography of Levi Levinstein. It was really good, though no pics allowed.
Now a couple more pics from my visit... This was my cafeteria lunch. I went there, in the basement, as I knew it had good food, and it would be cheaper than the many other options on site. But it still cost me $18, including a new bottle of water. Gotta resist the heavy salad bar goodies if you want a cheaper meal, but it was outstanding quality (and I ate it all!).
Grabbed this pic, found it fun, or funny, to see this kid reading in the midst of the Picasso exhibit. I figured a smart kid (as in knowing he'd get bored and bringing a book just in case) at a show with parents, but I guess he could have been an art student.
Loved watching this guy taking his pics, as he was zooming in on little bits, and taking things on angles:
It's neat to see a work in a camera, and the work behind it!
Art student, or artist, drawing at the exhibit.
Musicians outside The Met kept things lively...
Check out the title of the book in this guy's pocket:
... and while not at the Met itself, this caught my eye walking to the subway afterwards. It was between 5th and Madison, on either 80th or 81st... but there was no sign. I have to find out what it is, and why it's there!!
I think this post took me as long to write as it took me to go through the Picasso exhibit, but what the heck. It's good for reflecting on what I enjoyed, nice for sharing with others, and will be good when my memory gets worse and I want to reexperience it!!!

PS - On the etchings from series 347, I did find some clear pics online here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What an incredible day at the Met you had... A Wonderful read !! Patsy