A Meandering Summer Saturday
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street)
New York, NY 10028
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 5, 2014
A delightful idea for a too-warm summer Saturday, with The Met open until 8:45 PM, is a meandering stroll, with not too many plans. The Met is made for exploration, and I've been doing just that for decades. On arrival, mid-afternoon, I headed first to the "Charles James: Beyond Fashion" exhibit in two locations — the special exhibition galleries on the Museum's first floor and The Costume Institute's Anna Wintour Costume Center on the ground floor. I was drawn to the simplicity of line of the "Butterfly" gowns, the combinations of satin, tulle, velvet, faille, and the "Clover Leaf" and "Swan" gowns. There are even videos of the cut and design, and one muslin exhibit, in which Mr. James left markings of his cuts, for future representations or adaptations of his vast collection. The wide, one-buttoned coats reminded me of the sixties. The exquisite, and dimly lit exhibition features about sixty-five of Mr. James' designs, from the 1920s until 1978, when he died. Exploring these costumes was serendipitous and breathtaking. The Charles James fashion exhibit runs through August 10, 2014.
My next stop was the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden and the Dan Graham Roof Garden Commission. The entire Roof Garden's walking surface is now faux green grass over a rubbery cushioned base, so that dozens of visitors were actually sipping drinks, sitting down, a lovely sight. The Graham work combines this landscaping, some hedges, and a large, two-way, mirrored glass and metal construction, swirling in shape, against which visitors were leaning and photographing. The Graham installation is on view through November 2, 2014. With a nice white wine, I, too, took a break and marveled at the wraparound skyline views.
From the Roof Garden I headed to the Garry Winogrand Photography, the first retrospective in 25 years of his collection of renowned photographs. He was fascinated by New York City and beyond, from the 1950s through the early 1980s. The Met has assembled, in several comfortably spacious rooms, about 175 of Winogrand's images, gelatin prints, and a series of photos from 1969, for the Met's centennial anniversary. I was fascinated by newly developed proof sheets, processed after Winogrand's sudden death at the age of 56. Also intriguing were photographs of the New York World's Fair, the El Morocco Nightclub, Robert Kennedy at a political convention, anti-war marches, iconic automobiles, and street corner violence. He caught it all on camera, for the art of photography, moments in time. There was even a 1967 gelatin print photo of a mixed-racial couple at the Central Park Zoo, holding chimpanzees in their arms, dressed like children, and an actual child holding one parent's hand. The Winogrand exhibit runs through September 21, 2014.
My next stop was The American Wing Café, a dining destination with fantastic indoor and outdoor views. I enjoyed a cheese and fruit package with Saratoga sparkling water. At this point, I decided to spend the rest of the now evening in the Impressionist Wing, on the second floor. Browsing this wing is like visiting old friends. It's just so relaxing to focus on highlights of Monet's early paintings, especially "The Garden at Sainte-Adresse" (1867), painted during a summer visit with his family. Monet's father posed in a panama hat, among other relatives as well. Monet entered this painting into the 1879 Impressionist exhibition.
In one of the Renoir galleries, I focused on the highlights of Renoir's commissioned portraits. Especially interesting was the fact that Renoir's commissioned "Madame Georges Charpentier and Her Children" (1878), for a well-connected socialite, who entertained Flaubert and Zola, was successfully shown at the Salon of 1879. A later 1888 commission, in the same Met gallery, "The Daughters of Catulle Mendès", was exhibited at another Salon, but the response to Renoir's newer hues and evolving brush style was not enthusiastic. Moving along these galleries, I explored some of the works of Van Gogh, Degas, and Toulouse-Lautrec. (Historical information was assisted through the Met Museum galleries and website). I look forward to returning soon to further explore current exhibitions and permanent collections, with my requisite visit to old friends in the Impressionist Wing.
Central Park and Skyline Views
from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower