The Met Breuer
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is an undeniable tastemaker in the macrocosm of art. It’s expansive collection includes works dating back ancient civilizations (The Temple of Dendur from 15 BC, for example) to contemporary classics like Janine Antonini’s Lick and Lather, which is on exhibit at the Met Breuer, the museum’s newest foray into the contemporary art sphere. The recent opening of the Met Breuer is a purposeful advance into the modern and contemporary realm, a world from which many critics have observed the institution’s absence.
The Met Breuer, located in New York City’s Upper East Side, stands out sharply from its Beaux Arts and Renaissance Revival neighbors. Located on Madison Avenue at East 75th Street, this new extension is the former home of another New York contemporary art hub, the Whitney Museum of American Art. The Brutalist building, designed by Marcel Breuer, an early student of the famous Bauhaus, is on loan to the Met for the next eight years. The Met will spend these eight years building their rapport with contemporary art, while simultaneously rebuilding their contemporary art wing on the main building on Fifth Avenue.
The Met has always been deliberate with their collection and exhibitions, and the Met Breuer will be no exception. The Met poached talent from across the pond to kickoff this new phase of their contemporary pursuits. Sheena Wagstaff was previously the Chief Curator of the Tate Modern in London, before being recruited as the Chairman of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. She is expected to extend and apply her success at the Tate Modern to the Met Breuer, which she has initiated with the debut shows on exhibit now.
The Met Breuer’s current programming includes two shows, a career retrospective of minimalist Nasreen Mohamedi, and a collection entitled “Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible” which focuses on artistic practice. Mohamedi, is an Indian artist whose work is informed by the post-Independence realities of India, and international modernism. This exhibition includes more than 130 paintings, drawings, photographs and intimate diary entries. This is a welcome and necessary narrative from a South Asian female artist, on view until June 5th. The other, larger show, Unfinished, includes 197 works of art, ranging over a long period of time which begins in the Renaissance and ends in the present day. This show, which runs through September 4th, poses questions about artistic practice and the true completion of a piece. This show includes work from legendary artists like Titian, Da Vinci, and Rembrandt, along with modern rulebreakers like Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, and Lygia Clark. We’ll see how the Met Breuer continues their contemporary pursuits as the remainder of their lease elapses.