I visited the Met just 2 months after moving to New York. Let me rephrase that…it took me 2 months after moving to New York just to get to the Met! Of course, it’s a thrill living in one of the art capitols of the world. Yet, the hustle and bustle of the city keeps you moving. Where exactly? Doesn’t matter as long as you’re walking faster than the person next to you. And although you are making excellent time, you’re still missing out on half of the city. Maybe that’s just me. I’m still adjusting to my new walking speed and sleep schedule (currently, I’m down at 10:30 and up at 7:30). Still, art history is a priority in my book. And, in this case, the free admission doesn’t hurt either…
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is swarming with tourists, which makes people watching particularly easy. As an avid “people watcher,” my favorite settings are museums. Art is both appreciated and ridiculed. Regardless, all art elicits some sort of reaction. The people in museums know what they’re getting themselves into. I just stand at the back of the room and wait for the magic to happen. And by magic, I mean photograph the backs of people’s heads. When I sense people are suspecting, I give the art some attention as well.
[Part of a Ceiling from the Tomb of Bakenrenef; 664-610 B.C.]
Photographing in museums is always such a treat, mainly because the subject is beautiful and the lighting is impeccable. It’s a weird fantasy of mine to schmooze my way to the top of the board and somehow charm them into giving me special guest access, maybe even a key. I’d certainly be willing to give the museum my apartment key. I think we’ve reached “that place” in our relationship. Upon receiving said key, I would sneak models in and photograph them all over the art. This is also my weird fantasy with aquariums.
[Right: Queen Victoria by Thomas Sully; oil on canvas, 1838]
[Asian jar with handle; date unknown]
Natural light was generously pouring into the European sculpture court. Scattered throughout the atrium, hidden between viewers, were artists with their sketchbooks and drawing easels. I cannot tell you how long they each must have been sitting there, studying 18th century sculpture. I can tell you that not one of them noticed I was “people watching.”
[Left: Ugolino and his Sons by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux; 1865-67]
A more recent fascination of mine is the painting style of photorealism. These paintings, including the one below, blow my mind. Here I am, complaining about the cost of camera equipment when I could just pick up a paintbrush and paint my subjects like this guy.
[Mark by Chuck Close; acrylic on canvas, 1978-79]
[Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) by Jackson Pollock; enamel on canvas, 1950]
[Orpheus by Cristoforo Stati; 1600-01]
Incidentally, this museum is so large, it is nearly impossible to get through in one day. It is especially more difficult when you spend time looking at the patrons rather than the art. The museum’s not going anywhere, you can spend as many days as you like wandering the different galleries. That is the beautiful thing about this city. The only things really moving at such a high speed are the people (and some of the cars). Deserving places are appreciated but only for a few moments. At the end of the day, everyone still runs across the platform to catch the express train in hopes of getting home in under an hour. Lather, rinse, repeat.