Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Day At The Met

There is no doubt The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is one of the premier art museums of the world. On our recent cross country trek we ended up with relatives in Northern New Jersey. They are minutes away from a New Jersey Transit station that ends at Penn Station in NYC so on the ladies shopping day, a rainy, unbelievably humid day, they dropped me off for my day at the Met. 

It takes an hour by train and it took me another hour after criss crossing Central Park twice to finally arrive. New Yorkers are pretty much like Angelenos who don't know directions much either. However, everyone was kind and dripping wet I finally arrived. 

In retrospect, I should have started at one corner of each floor and kept on going. Because some art is not my cup of tea I avoided it. After criss-crossing those galleries a few times, asking guards a million times I went with the flow.  

If you have never gone, put it on your bucket list. It has in its collection just about every artistic era since man scratched on rocks, and archeologists have discovered it. A day is simply not enough. Going with the flow takes you into amazing collections. While I went to see the painting, generally anything after about 1500, the crafts and primitive sections and even Greek pottery had amazing designs, designs I will try on birdhouses. The inventiveness of all peoples is truly amazing and they do a good enough job explaining where, when and if available, why. 

While the entire facade appears under construction (every block in the city literally has construction going on), the interior seems in order. You now enter through an impressive Egyptian collection but since I've been there and seen the originals, I went on.  The primitive collections drew me in. I wasn't prepared for that. I took many photos to study later and finally found the impressionists. 

What is intriguing with primitive art is how many cultures often came to similar solutions. Geometries are used in Native American art, Oceania, Egypt, Africa, even Asia. 

Galleries and collections seemed repetitive in theme but not artists. I found several rooms of Impressionists then would see more in another gallery. However, as I searched for this era or that, I began to follow the eras and studied techniques used in each. While we love Impressionist artists, it did not just happen in a void. I remember being amazed looking at paintings in the Prado how some artists used color and sweeping brush strokes 300-400 years earlier. 

What marked all paintings of any era was the depth of color the artist achieved. I noticed that artists during the time of the American Revolution didn't have the similar depth.  To see a glorious Romney, Gainsborough, Reynolds and study close-up what's in the shadows, is to understand the difference of applying one layer of color to multiple layers that brings a richness to the main subjects you can achieve no other way.

I learned that the difference between good art and great art is this richness of depth. Even the shadows count! Next time you looking at art, see what's in the shadows. You will be surprise.

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