the metropolitan museum of art: 4 posts

Siena, Coral, Gold : The Art of Storytelling

The Virgin Mary has just given birth. She’s reclining under a sumptuous red cover decorated with gold embroidery, while baby Jesus is given a bath. That Cennino Cennini, a fourteenth century Sienese artist, chose such an intimate rendition of the nativity is unexpected, but equally intriguing is the setting. Instead of a fantasy land or a barn from the biblical story, the event is taking place in a palace that any contemporary viewer in Siena would have found familiar. Cennini wanted to emphasize that God was not in some distant, faraway land. He was right here, in this city.


During my days as an art student, I was repeatedly told by my teachers to listen to the colors. It was the same advice I received years later as a perfumery trainee. In order to compose an accord that would be more than just a pleasant odor, you have to listen to scents. Each note has its feel, shape and character. Like fragrances, colors are powerful, and they can convey emotion as readily as gestures and lines.

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JAR Jewels and Chinese Snuff Bottles

He is one of the world’s top jewelers and can turn stones into shimmering flowers and butterflies. His work has impeccable quality, virtuous color compositions and dramatic effects. Joel Arthur Rosenthal, a native New Yorker who has been working under the name of JAR in Paris since the 1960s, is notoriously secretive. Unlike his jewel neighbors at the Place Vendôme in Paris, his boutique doesn’t even have a window, much less jewels displayed for all to see. So, it’s a special event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to present an exhibit devoted to his work.  Jewels by JAR running from November 20, 2013–March 9, 2014 in Gallery 913 will feature more than four hundred works by Rosenthal, including his delicate blossoms, leaves and “witty objets d’art”.  


Once you’ve had enough of JAR’s diamonds, sapphires, garnets, topazes, and rubies, you can walk over to Bergdorf Goodman (754 5th Ave) and try his collection of fragrances at the in-store boutique. Don’t miss Golconda, a bigger than life carnation, and Bolt of Lightning, an equally dramatic tuberose.

Charles James: Beyond Fashion : New Metropolitan Museum of Art Exhibit

There are three places in New York I miss the most: Lincoln Center, Kalustyan’s and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Lincoln Center houses not only The Metropolitan Opera, The New York City Ballet, and The New York Philharmonic Orchestra, but also a range of other performing companies. Kalustyan’s is a paradise for spice lovers. When it comes to art, the scene in Brussels is quite lively, but what in the world can compare to the Met? I love the way they curate their exhibitions, especially at the Costume Institute, and next spring there will be another interesting showcase. “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” will focus on Charles James, America’s best-known couturier, and will run from May 8 to August 10, 2014.


James was known for his architectural designs, and his study of human anatomy and mathematics. He was also generous in his use of color. As the WWD reports, “the Costume Institute will examine James’ entire career, including the years he dressed society doyennes like Millicent Rogers, Austine Hearst and Dominique de Menil, and was associated with his close friend Cecil Beaton, through his later years at the Chelsea Hotel (he died in 1978).” There will be 100 pieces on display.

“He really is a one-of-a-kind designer,” said Harold Koda, curator in charge of the Costume Institute. “Even if you look through the history of French haute couture and all the English couture designers, James stands out as a very idiosyncratic personality and artist and one of the few designers who, in his own lifetime, felt that his work transcended the medium.”

Photo via WWD: Nancy James in Charles James’ Butterfly Gown, 1955. Photograph by Cecil Beaton, The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s.

Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity at The Metropolitan Museum

From February 26 to May  27, 2013, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will present its new exhibit, Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity This exhibit was unveiled at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris last year, and I highly recommend this beautifully curated look at the role of fashion in the works of the Impressionists and their contemporaries. The exhibit is complemented by masculine and feminine costumes, period photographs, illustrations, and rare Guerlain perfume bottles*. It truly gives you a unique glimpse into late nineteenth-century Parisian life and society.


Highlights of the exhibition include Monet’s Luncheon on the Grass (1865–66) and Women in the Garden (1866), Bartholomé’s In the Conservatory(circa 1881, paired with the sitter’s dress), Monet’s Camille (1866), Renoir’s Lise–The Woman with the Umbrella (1867), Manet’s La Parisienne (circa 1875), and much more.

To find out more, please check the Met website.

Update: the exhibit will also travel to the Art Institute of Chicago, where it will be shown at Regenstein Hall from June 26 to September 22, 2013.

*as seen at the similar exhibit at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

Painting: Claude Monet, Women in the Garden (detail), 1866, via wiki-images, some rights reserved.

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