A modern and contemporary extension of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Met Breuer opened in March at the former Whitney location. The Met is typically associated with ancient art, so the expansion had the art world buzzing. March issue covered the news and what to expect, and many readers went to check out the modern new digs. If you haven’t gone yet or want to make another trip, let me be your guide. I visited the museum and picked my four must-see art works at the Met Breuer.
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“Posthumous Portrait of Ria Munk III“, 1917-18 by Gustav Klimt
Both grim and extremely interesting, this piece is part of the Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible exhibition that’s closing in September. The story goes that Klimt was commissioned to paint the late Maria Munk, who committed suicide after her fiancé called off their engagement. The more morbid part? Klimt died while still working on the young woman’s portrait.
The exquisite gold frame and bright, unfinished flower details draw a sharp contrast to the dark nature of the portrait’s history.
“Woman, I“, 1950-52 by Willem de Kooning
A personal favorite, this work at the Met Breuer is on loan from Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to be a part of the Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible exhibition. The abstract figure of a woman and spontaneous brushstrokes using eye-catching colors makes the eye wander from corner to corner with no real point of focus. The finished work has unfinished qualities; something seen often in de Kooning’s work. As the placard at the Met Breuer quoting de Kooning in 1958 says, “I refrain from finishing.” It also quotes him elaborating in 1960, “I was never interested…[in] how to make a good painting….I didn’t want to pin it down at all.”
One of the most significant artists to emerge in post-Independence India, linear artist Nasreen Mohamedi owns the second floor of the Met Breuer. And by owns, I don’t mean financially. The work is meticulous, calculated and tedious. While a lot of her works displayed are smaller in size, the three-dimensionality is anything but minute. Spectators stare and question how so many small, fine lines fit in such a small space, yet are so impactful to the overall presentation. A line is a line is a line, except when as complex as Mohamedi’s work.
“Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.)“, 1991 by Felix Gonzalez-Torres
Bubble gum, bubble gum, in a…museum? Cuban artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ candy installation is sweet. Literally and figuratively. Visitors are asked to take a piece of candy and as the placard explains, “This installation is an allegorical portrait of the artist’s partner Ross Laycock, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1991.” It started at 175 pounds of candy, and each time someone takes a piece, it represents the illness-induced weight loss Laycock experienced. Despite the tragedy of the death, the awareness this work brings is bittersweet.
Tell us your favorite works at the Met Breuer in the comments below!