The Unbearable Banishment: to get to america, you have to walk through egypt

Monday, February 23, 2009

to get to america, you have to walk through egypt

I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the Pierre Bonnard exhibit. It’s 80 paintings from his late period. It was nice show but I wasn’t blown away. As usual, I dragged Artisté Florenza with me. Among her many interesting perspectives, she offered that since these works were from late in Bonnard’s career, his sight and skills may have been diminished. Perhaps. There were lots of drawings of fruit in bowls. Do you know what? I hate fruit bowl drawings. Save fruit bowls for art school. Keep them out of the museums, okay?

This was probably the best of the bunch.

* * *

I am a creature of habit. After a special exhibit at the Met, I typically beat the same path to 19th- and early 20th-Century paintings and Modern Art but this time, upon Artisté Florenza suggestion, we visited the American Wing instead. That museum is so immense that you can spend an entire day ogling one genre of art.

The path to the American Wing runs through Egyptian Art. Here's one of the MANY mummies that are on display.

Just think about how creepy this is for a moment. They’re dead bodies, robbed from their graves and put on display. I’m pretty sure that The Metropolitan Museum of Art was never meant to be their final resting place. Can you imagine if, say, a museum in China did that to a Catholic?! Or a Muslim?! It’s a miracle that everyone who stares at these doesn’t walk away with a pox on their family. But they are kind of cool.

After the mummies, you have to walk through the Temple of Dendur. The back wall of this Wing is a huge window that looks out over Central Park. Light streams in onto the Temple and reflecting pools that surround it. The best part of this photo is the silhouetted figures. It was an accident!

Again, what are we doing with an ancient temple in the middle of Manhattan? It’s madness. I don’t want to think about the payback implications.

* * *

If you enter the American Wing from the right corridor, you are greeted by this stunning Tiffany stained glass window.

Not bad, eh? There are a lot of Tiffany vases, windows and jewelry on display. Tucked away in a corner is Louis Comfort Tiffany’s actual workbench!

Right off of the Tiffany exhibit is the Frank Lloyd Wright room. This was originally the living room of the summer residence of Frances W. Little, whoever the hell that was. Some wealthy bloke, I suppose. All of the furnishings, windows, light fixtures, carpeting, etc., were designed by Wright. Here's a good write-up on the room (for Jon, esp).

I had always ignored this Wing of the museum but it turns out we Americans can show the Europeans a thing or two about design and art after all.

* * *

Here’s a Paul Klee for my brother, who likes him a lot.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the story of Andrew McCrew. Hobo, died in 1913 (lost his legs along the way). Preserved - and then traveled with a carnival for 40 some odd years... Immortalized in a song by Don McClean from 1973 or so...

this always makes me wonder about the mummies. who they were. who they loved. where they bought their shoes...

February 23, 2009 at 9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That stained glass window is beautiful. shame I didn't see it when I was there but I will always remember the Egyptian wing

February 24, 2009 at 3:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You hit my two favorite spots in the museum - the Egyptian collection and Frank Lloyd Wright room. I don't know about the mummies but I believe the Temple was rescued from flood waters by the museum and that's why they have the right to show it off.

February 24, 2009 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Daisy: Thanks for the creepy link. I would like to be preserved and made a carnival attraction. Seems strangely appropriate.

Nurse: The window is part of the permanent collection and will be here when you come back.

Pop: Thanks for the explanation. I feel a bit better about the Temple.

February 24, 2009 at 9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We really can't be certain that we aren't cursed when we gawk at mummies.

February 24, 2009 at 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Egyptian collection there always makes me think of the Sesame Street movie that takes place there. It may be random, but it brings me back to my childhood.

February 24, 2009 at 2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is only a matter of time before the Egyptians ask for these treasures back- as they have managed to shame many other colonial nations into doing so.
The British Museum remains the worse offender- along with private collectors.
Commonly- a museum like the Met will be able to obtain very long term "loan"- but in return they must send some preservation experts to Cairo for expert specialist knowledge exchange

February 22, 2010 at 2:10 PM  

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