Art,  Museums

New York City — Fashionable Exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum

The hottest tickets in New York City during 2023 were for exhibits focused on KARL LAGERFELD and VINCENT VAN GOGH. “Lagerfeld’s fluid lines united his designs for Balmain, Patou, Chloé, Fendi, Chanel, and his eponymous label, Karl Lagerfeld, creating a diverse and prolific body of work unparalleled in the history of fashion,” according to the Met Museum. The 150 creations by the German-born designer assembled by the Met’s Costume Institute, dating from the 1950s through 2019, were on view until July 16, 2023.

This pleated dress of black silk tulle appliqued with polychrome goose feathers required 800+ hours of craftsmanship, CHANEL 2017-18
Dress of black & beige silk satin crepe de chine (right) overlaid with silk lace, CHANEL 1986
Dress of ivory silk crepe de chine (left) embroidered with bugle beads & silver paillettes in a trompe l’oeil drapery motif, Chloé 1984

“Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” Closed in New York City on July 16, 2023

A Wheatfield, with Cypresses, 1889 by Vincent van Gogh
The Starry Night, 1889

Through August 27, 2023, the Met displayed a tightly-conceived thematic exhibit of “Van Gogh’s Cypresses.” Some 40 works of art, including “The Starry Night” (above) from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, illuminated Vincent van Gogh’s fascination with the distinctive evergreen trees that sparked his creativity during his two years in the South of France.

Garden with Weeping Willow, 1888
Trees in the Garden of the Asylum, 1889
Field with Poppies, 1889
Cypresses, 1889

“Van Gogh’s Cypresses” Was on View in New York City Through August 27, 2023

Landscape Under Turbulent Skies, 1889 by Vincent van Gogh

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is open from 10:00 in the morning until 5:00 in the afternoon, closed on Wednesdays, and we suggest you plan a visit in the early evening on a Friday or Saturday when the Met museum offers extended hours from 10:00 in the morning until 9:00 in the evening!

View of Midtown Manhattan & Central Park from the Roof Garden (open May-October, weather permitting) atop the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Enjoying the Permanent Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art


With a collection of over 2,000,000 works of art, where to begin at the Met

The permanent collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (colloquially “the Met”) is curated by 17 departments, and the main building on Fifth Avenue in New York City is by area one of the largest art museums in the world.

Some departments, housing art from classical antiquity (Greece and Rome) as well as the ancient Near East, for example, cannot compare with stronger collections found in Europe. We therefore recommend you begin with some of the most impressive parts of the Met’s holdings such as Netherlandish painting, or “The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing” (opened in 1982) housing fine art from Africa, Oceania and the Americas. While some of the possessions of the Met may also be commonly found in other Western museums — such as furniture, tapestries, and antique weapons / armor from around the world — the most wonderful quality of museums in the United States in general is the broad range of ceramics, jewelry, timepieces, glass, fashion, photographs, mathematical & musical instruments, and architectural elements on display. In other words, art museums in North America are often surprising (and never boring) because they do not limit their purpose to the exhibition of sculpture and painting.

The Temple of Dendur {carved from Aeolian sandstone} was completed by 10 B.C.

After seeing art from Japan, China and Egypt, we decided to view European paintings from the early part of the nineteenth-century, when many artists from Scandinavia and France would embark on sojourns to Italy and North Africa for inspiration. We also had a keen interest in seeing stained glass, seascapes and landscapes by some of the most talented artists from the United States, notably Tiffany, Homer, Twachtman and Inness — so we added the American Wing of the museum to our agenda.

The Massacre of the Innocents, 1824 by Francois-Joseph Navez
Columns of the Temple of Neptune at Paestum, 1838 by Constantin Hansen
Sunset, Sorrento, 1834 by Thomas Fearnley
Bashi-Bazouk, 1868-69 by Jean-Léon Gérôme
Edge of a Wood, 1850 by Theodore Caruelle d’Aligny
The North Cape by Moonlight, 1848 by Peder Balke
The Basilica of Constantine (left) & The Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine, 1822-25 (right) by Charles Remond
The Arch of Constantine Seen from the Colosseum, 1818-38 by Lancelot Turpin de Crisse
Prayer in the Mosque, 1871 by Jean-Léon Gérôme
Hamlet in the Auvergne, 1830 by Theodore Rousseau

Planting the Seeds of Impressionism

In 1830, the 18-year-old Frenchman Theodore Rousseau ventured into the rugged terrain of the Auvergne region to draw and paint from a high perch in the hills. Shortly thereafter, Rousseau’s panoramic view (shown above) of a hamlet at the base of a steep cliff was celebrated in Paris by leaders of the ascendant Romantic movement. As a result, the French countryside would soon take its place as the equal of Italy’s in terms of artistic inspiration and innovation, and the en plein air sketching expeditions of Rousseau and Charles-Francois Daubigny (below) would profoundly change the course of landscape painting over the next 60 years in France, North America and even Italy where in the late 1850s a group of Tuscan painters known as the Macchiaioli broke with the antiquated conventions taught by the European academies in order to paint outdoors to capture natural light, shade and color.

Sunset Near Arbonne, 1860-65 by Theodore Rousseau
Fishing, 1862-63 by Édouard Manet

Édouard Manet & Claude Monet

While both Manet and Monet achieved initial success by submitting their paintings to the official Salon, their modernist tendencies and styles would eventually lead them down independent paths. In 1861, Manet submitted two paintings to the Salon; both were accepted and one — The Spanish Singer (on view at the Met) — won an honorable mention. Manet would not receive unequivocal recognition from the Salon for another 20 years. Luncheon on the Grass {Le Dejeuner sur l’Herbe}, Manet’s 1863 submission to the Salon, was rejected and the scandal caused by the presentation of Olympia (1865) prompted Manet to flee to Spain.

In 1866, Claude Monet’s Woman in the Green Dress was accepted by the jury at the Salon and received positive reviews. In the following year, however, Monet’s submission was rejected and Monet proposed the idea of exhibiting independently — together with other painters who would one day be called the Impressionists — a proposition that would not be realized due to a lack of funds until 1874.

The Impressionists organized eight exhibitions between 1874 and 1886 but Manet never exhibited with them. Manet was one of the first nineteenth-century artists to paint modern life and his alla prima {at once} technique was adopted by the Impressionists because this style allowed them to paint quickly enough to capture on canvas the changing effects of light. In retrospect, Édouard Manet was the most pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism.

The Bodmer Oak, Fontainebleau Forest, 1865 by Claude Monet
The Pardon in Brittany, 1886 by Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret
The American Wing inside the MET is illuminated by a wall of windows facing Central Park
Grapevine Panels (1902-15) designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany
Neoclassical marble facade (1822-24) of the United States Branch Bank of Wall Street
Winslow Homer seascapes (1895-96): Maine Coast, Cannon Rock, and Northeaster (left to right)
Kynance, 1888 by John Brett
Arques-la-Bataille, 1885 by John Henry Twachtman
Spring Blossoms, Montclaire, New Jersey, 1891 by George Inness
Metalwork, glass and ornamentation by Tiffany Studios in the American Wing

The Great Hall Inside the Met in New York City

The main entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, known as the Great Hall, opened to the public in December 1902. At that time, the Evening Post newspaper announced that New York City finally had a neoclassical palace for the display of art, “one of the finest in the world, and the only public building in recent years which approaches in dignity and grandeur the museums of the old world.”

During this visit to the Met Museum, we explored some of the artistic movements which enabled France to become the creative center of Europe during the 19th century, displacing Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. Guardians of Neoclassicism such as Ingres in France and Navez in Belgium and leaders of Orientalism like Gérôme would gradually see their traditional movements wane in influence as proponents of Naturalism and Romanticism (Dagnan-Bouveret and Rousseau, respectively) gained recognition.

Of course, French Impressionism would surpass all of these 19th-century artistic trends in popularity and longevity. The Metropolitan Museum of Art possesses the finest holdings of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting in New York, so please take a look at our article entitled “New York City — 3 Incredible Art Museums” to enjoy the depth of the Met’s collection of art from the 1860s through the beginning of the 20th century.

The Virgin Adoring the Host, 1852 by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

Manet / Degas

The Dead Toreador, circa 1864 by Édouard Manet {National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.}

We hope you will be able to visit New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to enjoy the upcoming special exhibitions when the Met will present “Manet / Degas” from September 24 though January 7, 2024.

Therese de Gas, 1863 by Edgar Degas {Portrait of the artist’s sister, Musée d’Orsay}

This Manet / Degas show highlighting two significant (and contrasting) contributors to the “new” style of painting explored in Paris between the 1860s and the 1880s was displayed at the Musée d’Orsay until July 23, 2023.

Matisse, Derain, and the Origins of Fauvism

The Met will be presenting an additional temporary exhibition entitled “VERTIGO OF COLOR — Matisse, Derain, and the Origins of Fauvism” from October 13 through January 21, 2024. Co-organized with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 65 works of art (watercolors, drawings and paintings) by Henri Matisse and André Derain reveal how these two great Fauvists manipulated colors in radical ways — where nature took on hues responding to the artists’ sensations, rather than reality — to create the first important modernist movement of the 20th century.

Bridge Over the Riou, 1906 by André Derain {Museum of Modern Art, New York}
Autumn view of Fifth Avenue from the Met’s Roof Garden

Remember, the Met’s Roof Garden will be open (weather permitting) through the end of October and the Met Museum’s popular Christmas Tree and creche, shown below, will be on view before the “Manet / Degas” exhibit closes on January 7, 2024.

We sincerely look forward to seeing you in the future.

Christmas Tree & eighteenth-century Neapolitan Baroque Creche in front of the choir screen from Spain’s Cathedral of Valladolid

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