FROM WARHOL TO BERNINI (PLUS LOOTED ANTIQUITIES) AT THE METJune 8, 2012
When the Metropolitan Museum says that it’s “encyclopedic,” it ain’t kidding. At its semi-annual “press lunch” on Monday, museum director Thomas Campbell outlined a fall schedule that ranges from Andy Warhol to Gian Lorenzo Bernini, with stops at George Bellows and Henri Matisse also on the docket. Here, a quick rundown of what looks to be an impressive fall and winter season at the museum.
* Chinese Gardens: Palace Pavilions, Scholars’ Studios, Rustic Retreats, Aug. 18, 2012-Jan. 6, 2013. Imagery of gardens over more than 1,000 years, via 70 paintings, plus contemporary photos and applied arts from the museum collection, exhibited in spaces surrounding the Astor Chinese Garden Court.
* Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years, Sept. 18-Dec. 31, 2012. Approximately 160 works, with about 40 by Warhol, in a show originally billed as “Fifty Artists” and purporting to be the first organized look at the Pope of Pop’s dominance of contemporary art. The exhibition’s five sections focus on tabloid culture, celebrity, “queer studies” and camouflage, appropriation, and art-as-business. It is organized by guest curator Mark Rosenthal with Met curator Marla Prather, assistant curator Ian Alteveer and research assistant Rebecca Lowery. The show includes a monster catalogue*, and is underwritten by Morgan Stanley.
* Bernini: Sculpting in Clay, Oct. 3, 2012-Jan. 6, 2012. Approximately 50 terracotta bozzetti and modelli for life-sized and colossal marbles, plus 30 chalk or pen sketches exhibited a few bronzes and marbles. Curators are Frick Collection director Ian Wardropper, Harvard Art Museum conservator Anthony Sigel, Kimbell Art Museum curator C.D. Dickerson and Met senior research associate Paola D’Agostino; the show is co-organized with the Kimbell Art Museum, where it appears Feb. 3-Apr. 14, 2013, and underwritten by the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation.
* Faking It: Manipulated Photography before Photoshop, Oct. 11, 2012-Jan. 27, 2013. The history of doctored photographs, starting with altered daguerreotypes in the 1840s to the dreamscapes of Jerry Uelsmann. The show is organized by Met assistant curator Mia Fineman and research assistant Shana Lopes, and is partly funded by Adobe Systems Incorporated.
* Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens, Oct. 30, 2012-Jan. 27, 2013. A survey of the European cabinetmakers, from around 1740 to its closing in 1795, featuring 60-65 items of furniture, often distinguished by mechanical devices, which are illustrated through virtual animations. The exhibition is organized by Met curator Wolfram Koeppe and funded by the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation.
* George Bellows, Nov. 15, 2012-Feb. 18, 2013. Approximately 80 paintings, 30 drawings and 25 lithographs -- nearly a third of the works devoted to NYC -- by the great American painter, who died from peritonitis at age 42 in 1925, in an exhibition currently on view at the National Gallery of Art, which organized the show with the Met and the Royal Academy of Arts. The survey is organized by a curatorial team led by NGA curator Charles Brock, and made possible by the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation.
* African Art, New York and the Avant-Garde, Dec. 4, 2012-Apr. 14, 2013. Celebrating the centenary of the 1913 Armory Show, the exhibition showcases about 40 African works from the collections of New York artists and art patrons, along with photos, sculptures and drawings by Constantin Brancusi, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Alfred Stieglitz and others. The show is organized by Met assistant curator Yaëlle Biro.
* Matisse: In Search of True Painting, Dec. 4, 2012-Mar. 17, 2013. A study of the French painter’s inclination to do two or more paintings of the same image, in an effort to “push further and deeper into true painting,” as he put it. The show, which includes 48 works, is organized in collaboration with the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen and the Centre Pompidou in Paris; the Met curator in charge is Rebecca Rabinow.
In addition to all this, Campbell made brief note of some new things on display, notably a bronze sculpture of a Boy Pulling a Thorn from his Foot by Antico, donated by the museum’s long-time patron Jayne Wrightsman. Also, in the wide entrance gallery to the European galleries, the museum’s own swoony The Storm (1880) by Pierre-Auguste Cot has been joined by a companion work, Cot’s Springtime, and William Adolphe Bouguereau’s salacious Nymphs and Satyr (1873), on loan from the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass. The three pictures were originally acquired by Met patron and tobacco heiress Catherine Lorillard Wolfe and her cousin, the hardware tycoon John Wolfe; after Wolfe’s death in 1894, the Bouguereau held briefly pride of place at the Hoffman House saloon on Broadway and West 25th Street during the Gay Nineties. Cot’s Springtime is on loan from Steven and Alexandra Cohen.
Campbell prefaced his general remarks with a brief comment on the recent New York Times report that the Cambodian government plans to seek the return of a pair of Angkor period stone sculptures, a fixture of the museum’s Asian galleries for two decades, which were apparently looted ca. 1970 when the country was suffering from civil war. Campbell said that the museum had not yet received a formal request from the Cambodian government for return of the artifacts, and promised that the Met is committed to dealing with such claims “with transparency” -- which means, for one thing, putting all its collections online, a policy he instituted after his arrival at the museum, three-and-one-half years ago.
Campbell’s plaintive response -- he practically begged the assembled press to be “sensitive to the complexity of the situation” in its reporting -- hints at the deep trouble that U.S. and British museums now face on this issue. The development of a sort of protocol for the familiar claims from Italy and Greece failed put a lid on the problem, but rather opened western museums up to similar claims from other source countries for antiquities. Especially notable is Turkey, which is seeking the return of a range of real treasures, as is outlined in detail by blogs such as Chasing Aphrodite and CultureGrrl. No doubt it would be possible for U.S. collections to return all such material to the countries of origin in return for extended cooperative loan agreements, but it won’t be easy.
* The artists in “Regarding Warhol: Sixty Years, Fifty Artists” are Ai Weiwei, Polly Apfelbaum, Cory Arcangel, Richard Artschwager, Richard Avedon, John Baldessari, Matthew Barney, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Maurizio Cattelan, Vija Celmins, Chuck Close, John Currin, Gilbert & George, Robert Gober, Nan Goldin, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Douglas Gordon, Andreas Gursky, Hans Haacke, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, David Hockney, Peter Hujar, Alfredo Jaar, Deborah Kass, Alex Katz, Anselm Kiefer, Karen Kilimnik, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Glenn Ligon, Kalup Linzy, Sarah Lucas, Christopher Makos, Robert Mapplethorpe, Allan McCollum, Vik Muniz, Takashi Murakami, Bruce Nauman, Cady Noland, Catherine Opie, Nam June Paik, Elizabeth Peyton, Sigmar Polke, Richard Prince, Gerhard Richter, Edward Ruscha, Betye Saar, Tom Sachs, Julian Schnabel, Cindy Sherman, Silence = Death Project, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Wolfgang Tillmans, Ryan Trecartin, Luc Tuymans, Francesco Vezzoli, Kelley Walker, Andy Warhol, and Christopher Wool.