Saturday afternoon at the Met

Portraits, angels, ethereal figures, a lighthouse; I have them all to myself! Even on crazy busy weekends, the crowds disperse on all floors and into various galleries, engulfed by the vastness of space that is the Met, leaving me alone, to enjoy my favourite works in peace. Unless, that is, there is a popular exhibition – then it feels like the whole of New York has landed on that same floor, at the same time, making it really hard to appreciate the art. Popularity, like most things in this world, has its price…

Art:

1/
Fairfield Porter, 1907-1975
Elaine de Kooning (1918-1989), 1957
Oil on canvas

2/
Edward Hopper, 1882-1967
Tables for Ladies, 1930
Oil on canvas

In Hopper’s Tables for Ladies a waitress leans forward to adjust the vividly painted foods at the window as a couple sits quietly in the richly paneled and well-lit interior. A cashier attentively tends to business at her register. Though they appear weary and detached, these two women hold posts newly available to female city dwellers outside the home. The painting’s title alludes to a recent social innovation in which establishments advertised ”tables for ladies” in order to welcome their newly mobile female customers, who, if seen dining alone in public previously, were assumed to be prostitutes.

3/
Florine Stettheimer, 1871-1944
The Cathedrals of Broadway, 1929
Oil on canvas

4/ & 5/
Jean Dunand, 1877-1942 & Séraphin Soudbinine, 1870-1944
Pianissimo and Fortissimo, 1925-26
Lacquered wood, eggshell, mother-of-pearl, gold

Created for the music room of Solomon R. Guggenheim’s residence in Port Washington, Long Island, these screens are an artistic collaboration between the designer Jean Dunand and the sculptor Séraphin Soudbinine. While Soudbinine conceived the composition and carved the bas-relief figures of otherworldly angels and rocklike forms, Dunand lacquered the screen.  Guggenheim’s widow, Irene Rothschild, donated the screens to the Metropolitan following the death of her husband.

6/
Edward Hopper, 1882-1967
The Lighthouse at Two Lights, 1929
Oil on canvas

7/
Juan Gris, 1887-1927
Juan Legua, 1991
Oil on canvas

8/
Balthus, 1908-2001
Thérèse Dreaming, 1938
Oil on canvas

9/
Francis Bacon, 1909-1992
(Reflection on one of) Three Studies for a Self-Portrait, 1979-80
Oil on canvas

As Bacon remarked to David Sylvester in 1975, ”I loathe my own face… I’ve done a lot of self-portraits, really because people have been dying around me like flies and I’v nobody else left to paint by myself.”

10/
Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973
Bust of a Man, 1908
Oil on canvas

11/
Pablo Picasso, 1881-1973
Gertrude Stein, 1905-06
Oil on canvas

12/
Albert Bloch, 1882-1961
Summer Night, 1913
Oil on canvas

13/
Edgar Degas, 1834-1917
Young Woman with Ibis, 1860-62
Oil on canvas

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

February 17th, 2018

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