my year at the MET
I hope that this shiny new year is treating you well. One of my goals- I do NOT say the “r” word- resolutions- is to get back on track with this blog. 2011 was a roller coaster, with amazing joy and heart-breaking sadness. More of the former than the latter.
One of the gifts I received for Christmas was a year-long membership to the MET Museum (thanks Sally!). I love museums and I thought it would be fun but then I had a great idea. Mike called it my “Julie and Julia” thing. I am going to use 2012, and my free pass, to see all of the MET. And not in that walk-fast-through-the-rooms-leading-to-the-Vermeers-and-then-leave way. I am going to visit the MET twice a month and really take the time to see a specific gallery or exhibit. After the entire year, I will have seen every painting, sculpture and tiny artifact. Yes, I will probably linger a lot longer in front of Monet’s The Houses of Parliament than I will the gallery with art from Precolumbian America (I’m so sorry, I have a serious soft spot for Claude).
So last weekend was Day One. I chose European Paintings on the 2nd floor, galleries 600-632. Yes, this is where the Vermeers live but it felt only right as he is really my artistic gateway drug of late. Here are some of my favs.
Madame Grand by Elizabeth Louise Vigess LeBrun (room 600)
I love her gaze, she seems a little over it all or maybe she was having trouble not laughing. I always wonder what it would have been like to sit as a portraiture subject. I worked for one day as a portrait model (fully clothed, it was head and shoulders) and it was very cool but really hard. I thought it might be a fun little side job every now and then but I could never make any of the times work and the girl who first asked me to do it (she saw some show I was in) stopped calling. Maybe I should check on that…. I could be a picture like this in a gallery someday. That would be incredibly cool.
Maria Portinari by Hans Memling (room 625)
Again, the expression really stopped me in my tracks. She just seems so self-assured, so comfortable with herself. And her jewelry rocks. There is this dignity and strength in her face, without seeming arrogant or cold. But there is something very pious about her, as if she has had to hold herself back. I imagine that she was too smart for her own good, and especially for her time. And I really want to see the bottom of her necklace…
After working my way through the galleries on my list, I also visited the Special Exhibit- The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini. This is where I saw my favorite of the day (besides The Young Woman with the Water Pitcher, which always brings tears to my eyes).
Ideal Portrait of a Lady (Simonetta Vespucci) by Sandro Botticelli
I would dress like this all the time, if I had the beads for my hair and if you could actually get through 10 minutes in New York City wearing white without getting making a mess of yourself. This picture is rather large in real life, which only adds to the beauty. She seems goddess-like and so serene.
I guess these peaceful and pensive women were my favorite today. They all seemed to be in thought and their not looking at the artist, which is apparently very typical of the times but brings a sense of mystery or intrigue.
I left the MET after a few hours, basking in my journey through history and grateful that I was heading out just as the masses were coming in (good to remember that before noon is best). I grabbed a coffee from a street vendor who was actually still using the blue “we are happy to serve you” cups and walked down 5th Avenue to my train. I sometimes forget how incredible New York City is, or I’m less aware of it, and I take for granted where I get to spend my days. And now quite of a few of them are going to be spent gazing at art. Not bad, not bad at all.