June 12, 2017
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
A week before my birthday, I drove alone down to New York City. I had an invitation from my cousins - Diane and Arthur Abbey - who I hadn't seen in quite a while, for a big party. The invitation was for an art opening that they were having at The Metropolitan Museum of Art! It seems that they have been collecting Japanese baskets for some years and they were giving this collection as a gift to The MET. These weren't just any old baskets - this was a high art form, and I had to go see it for myself.
The Guggenheim is just up the street.....
I arrived early so I took a walk up Central Park and stopped in to look at the Guggenheim, and spend a little time in their gift shop. There is something so iconic about this museum, which I can remember when it was being built. I have seen many shows there, but there was nothing as important as what I was going to see at The MET, so I walked back down the park. A very hot day in New York City, I was glad to be back in the air conditioned galleries of The MET.
Funerary Customs for the citizens of Cypress
in the classical period
The MET is so big, that you can't take it in on any given day. I looked over the classical statuary along the main hall pausing to look at this tall sculpture from Cypress. I consider the fact that many works of art in the middle east have been trashed in the last few years, and I am glad for places like The MET and the service they perform by protecting art from a wide variety of civilizations.
Still-life by Cezanne
There are my favorite galleries at The MET, and to visit Cezanne on this day was wonderful just to take a few minutes to observe what he had accomplished in this gorgeous still-life. Many of my teachers were under the influence of Cezanne, and I could say that I learned the most from Cezanne's method of drawing and measuring and comparing when working up a composition. I love the space in Cezanne, and the areas where he is directing your gaze. There is a real tactile sense in his work that tells me that every inch in the painting is discovered and accounted for.
While I waited for the special exhibition to open I surveyed the paintings and sculpture of the 19th and early 20th century and wondered why Rodin would have spent his considerable gifts on a piece that is so close to kitsch in his "Eternal Spring" of 1907 ( see below ).
"Eternal Spring", 1907 by Rodin
Finally, at 6:30 invitation only guests were allowed to visit the show and promised gift of Japanese Bamboo Art, in the Sackler Wing at The MET. I was greeted at the door by my cousin, Diane Abbey, and thanked her for this wonderful occasion. Many of these exquisite creations were made by six artists who are considered living national treasures. The exhibition will run through February 4, 2018 so you will have ample time to see it should you wish to. As they write in the press release, the majority of these works have never been presented to the public.
Honma Hideaki "Flowing Pattern", 2014, bamboo and rattan
A marvelous surprise party for their guests, the art that Diane and Arthur Abbey have collected is so interesting, not only for the superb craftsmanship, but also for the forms themselves like this flowing pattern that reminds me of Hokusai's "Great Wave". Some of these bamboo creations are recent, and some go back a hundred years. The details are mesmerizing, as some of these baskets are meant to present flowers, and others just stand by themselves as individual works of art.
Japanese Bamboo Art
On the way out of the party I met my brother, Paul Singer, and we rode back to Brooklyn together.
We both spoke about the high quality of the art on view, and we were both surprised about the extent of the collection. Nice to get an invite to the show, this is the first time I had been invited to such an affair at The MET.
The following morning - on the way out of Manhattan, stuck in traffic, I had a second to make this final picture, and it represents the re-birth of New York City. There is so much building going on in New York City that you see new projects almost every other block. Like the signs say, I Love New York!
The new, World Trade Center