At the Met in NY this week there is a small exhibit of pen and ink drawings by Dürer and others. The exhibit is just three rooms. I liked many by German artists I’d never heard of, like this one from 1549, Behan’s aptly titled Head of a Man Wearing a Hat, Sticking Out His Tongue and Facing Right.
There was another man in a hat, this one “gazing upward” by Martin Schongauer from the 1400s, that I liked, too. And a couple of lovely drawings that had just a hint of color, from the 1500s, by Hans Hoffmann:
Of course, there were several wonderful Dürer drawings also. I especially enjoyed his study of six pillows, done when he was 22. You can almost see him working to get the shading right–to use pen and ink on paper to achieve dimensionality.
I remember when museums were fairly quiet places. These days, to deal with costs I suppose, they’ve all hired publicists. In France a few years ago they had a much touted exhibit of Gaugin and Van Gogh at Arles at the Musee D’Orsay. They let people in at certain hours. Still, it was so jammed you could hardly see the paintings. But if you left the featured rooms and went upstairs to the permanent collection, there were gorgeous examples of both painters with no crowds. It was a bit like that at the Met this week, though not as extreme. The featured room of self portraits by Rembrandt and Degas (who was much influenced by him) was crowded, but the wonderful rooms in the permanent collection were almost empty.
I also got to see the Stein collection again, which I wrote about here. I wasn’t going to go in, as I’d seen it twice in San Francisco, but there were a few paintings I wanted to see again. The size of the rooms at the Met allowed for a very different grouping and presentation of the paintings, and either there were some additional ones, or because of the grouping I saw things anew. What a unique experience to see an exhibit curated differently. I was so glad I went! I’d love to talk to a curator about that experience and about the process of curating in general.