CityPASS New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Look, I did not like the MET but it was overwhelming.  Perhaps because I had already been to Staten Island earlier in the day and then the Brooklyn Museum.  Then I decided to grab the train Uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It was open late and I thought perfect – I can use my time wisely and stroll around at a leisurely pace.

Even as I took my time – there is really only so much art you can see in one day whilst on holiday.  So again no disrespect to the MET.  Now I feel you can only really see one wing of the MET a day to truly appreciate the wealth of art in the space.  It is doable – but how much are you absorbing.  My mistake.  I should have carved out a map of ‘must see’s’ before I got there.  But how much planning is a girl to do?

I did enjoy Jasper Johns, Seurat, Monet, Degas and Hopper works.  It was a wonderful space to get lost in and see what new treasure I could fall into.

My favourites?  I really liked the William Kentridge exhibit called ‘The Refusal of Time’.   William Kentridge’s five-channel video installation The Refusal of Time (2012) is a thirty-minute meditation on time and space, the complex legacies of colonialism and industry, and the artist’s own intellectual life.

At the center of the installation is a moving sculpture—the “breathing machine” or “elephant”—an organ-like automaton with a pumping bellows. Plans from the 1870s for copper pneumatic tubes under the streets of Paris that would pump regular bursts of air to calibrate the city’s clocks reminded Kentridge of a passage from Charles Dickens’s novel Hard Times (1854). Dickens describes a factory machine moving “monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness”—a metaphor for the often convulsive developments in science and industry during the modern era and a reminder of the vain impulse to control time.

I also enjoyed Florine Stettheimer’s ‘The Cathedrals of Fifth Avenue’.  Stettheimer treats the spectacles of high society and consumerism with affectionate humor. A newly wedded couple emerges from a church, ready to begin a life of excess and acquisition. Floating above them are the names of New York’s most exclusive shops and food establishments; “Tiffany’s” is spelled out in jeweled letters, and “Altman’s” is shaped from fine home furnishings. At right, Stettheimer and her sisters exit a limousine near August Saint-Gaudens’s gilded Sherman Monument. In one of her poems, the artist extols such luxuries:

I like slippers gold

I like oysters cold

and my garden of mixed flowers

and the sky full of towers

and traffic in the streets

and Maillard’s sweets

and Bendel’s clothes

and Nat Lewis hose

and Tappé’s window arrays

and crystal fixtures

and my pictures

and Walt Disney cartoons

and colored balloons.

Would I go to the MET again?  Definitely.  But I probably wouldn’t do anything else that day.


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