Summer Fun Both Inside and Outside At The Met
No such thing as summer vacation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art! True, like all of our world-class cultural institutions, the Met holds back any true blockbuster art shows for the fall season, and the heavy tourist influx around the holidays, but summer is huge up here by the park as well, with seemingly every single one of our out-of-town guests putting in an appearance. So although you won't feel lonely wandering through the cool, marble galleries, it's also not the crush it can be when brand names like Matisse or McQueen are in attendance. Anyway, I went to scope out the Met's two newest exhibitions last week, one a look at how Chinese culture has inspired Western fashion, the other a somewhat obtuse installation on the always-lovely roof garden by Pierre Huyghe starring, among other things, two of world's most ancient aquatic creatures. Here's my report…
A View From The Top: Pierre Huyghe's Rooftop Garden
Every summer's roof garden installation is worth a look, if only as an excuse to hang out in one of the more pleasant spots in town. And while some year's projects are truly spectacular (in the sense that they create a spectacle, such as Tomas Saraceno's mirrored-honeycomb Cloud City a few seasons back), even the more subtle sculptured pieces up here engage and intrigue. At least, to me they do. There seemed to be some genuine anger directed toward this summer's piece by Pierre Huyghe, which prompted several groups to actually stomp away in disgust, muttering as one couple did: "This is ABSURD." Absurd or no, I found Huyghee's piece pretty cool. I liked the way he tore up some of the terrace's flagstones, leaving them piled around as if, like New York City, the installation is always a work in progress. I liked the chunk of Manhattan schist, that wonderful granite that makes our island possible, floating in the aquarium, joined by two tiny swimmers. And I liked the baffled looks the art work provoked on many, though not all, of the folks who came by. And even if you don't like the art, just take a look at that view!
China: Through The Looking Glass
The biggest current exhibition at the Met has to be China: Through the Looking Glass, which takes over space on three floors (not the entire floors, obviously) in the Chinese Galleries, the Egyptian Galleries and the Anna Wintour Costume Center. As is usually the case with the Metropolitan's recent fashion-based shows, "China" focuses its attention on a theme, rather than an individual designer (the most notable exception to this practice was the Met's insanely popular Alexander McQueen show of 2011), exploring how Chinese culture and design, whether actual or appropriated, have influenced Western tastes and trends for centuries. The galleries are dramatically lit, surprises await around (most) every corner, and even if you're not terribly interested in fashion design (I am not), the historical aspect of the exhibition offers plenty to ponder.
For More Information On The Metropolitan Museum of Art
China: Through the Looking Glass runs through August 16; Pierre Huyghe's Roof Garden commission will be in place through November 1. Remember: all admissions to the Met are on a "recommended-price" basis, so don't feel like you have shell out the full $25 just to spend 20 minutes seeing whatever's new.