Meeting the Masterpieces at The Metropolitan Museum Of Art (The Met), New York
Published October 08, 2023
Absolutely shameful and completely appalling if one won’t stop to marvel at the vision that is Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Velasquez, and all the other greats at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. So we did just that. Our visit took place during the last week of June and despite the heat and humidity that hung in the air, visiting museums under these climate conditions was a priority and a most welcome respite from the crowded streets of NYC. The Met’s architecture alone is a breathtaking spectacle. Highly influenced by European architecture, it appears to emulate gothic sophistication and once inside the daunting facade, it was a surprise to see how richly illuminated the museum was. Most remarkably, much light appeared to permeate through the skylights that were built into the building’s majestic ceiling.
Within the Met walls is 5,000 years of history which includes everything from paintings by Europeans masters to ancient Greek and Roman sculpture, to Asian textiles to clothing by iconic designers. At the time of our visit, the Costume Institute’s spring 2023 exhibition displayed the diverse and prolific body of work of Karl Lagerfeld. But naturally, we gravitated to Van Gogh’s Cypresses—the first exhibition to focus on trees and is among the most famous in the history of art, not to mention immortalized in signature images by Van Gogh. However, since the exhibition was run by scheduled batches of visitors, we took the time to roam around and check out other celebrated works while waiting for our turn. One of the other impressive non-permanent exhibits during this time was “Cecily Brown: Death and the Maid”. While we missed the show, art critics consider it to be a sumptuous collection of color, bravura brushwork, and complex narratives that relate to some of Western’s art history’s grandest and oldest themes.
Before beginning our tour, we sat down at the American Wing Cafe by the vast, light-filled pavilion. One couldn’t ask for a more real life art-filled panorama than the museum’s unsurpassed collection of American monumental sculpture, architectural elements, and stained glass. We sipped our coffee and proudly stretched out our maps and made notes… and little innocuous doodles— depending on your brand of humor, but hey, the old peen often rears its head at the most (un)likely places. Yes, pun intended.
As we started our walk towards our first destination which was located at Floors 2 and 3, at the Robert Lehman Collection, we were easily distracted by the ancient Egypt works, the museum’s musical collection, and the extensive holdings of African, Asian, Oceanian, Byzantine, and Islamic art. While we weren’t familiar with a lot of these works, it was nonetheless an astounding experience to be inside those sacred galleries and feed our minds and souls with more art history. After a cigarette break or two, it was time to embark on the most anticipated part of our tour: seeing the greatest of the greatests: Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Velasquez, Henri, Cassat, to name a few. Needless to say, it was an astonishing, almost spiritual involvement with masterpieces. Finally, we understood the urge to lick the canvasses, had one ever been so inclined. A few minutes of gawking and inspecting the works just weren’t enough, and like a good book, where you acknowledge the necessity to pause at parts that made you high, you just had to catch your breath and allow yourself to slingshot through the transcendental experience that is falling in love again and again and again.