Preparatory sketch for Doge . . . Presented to the Redeemer

Has it really taken me 3 months to organize photos from my July museum breaks? One exciting stop was to The Met Breuer, the new branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, located at 75th and Madison, the site of the old Whitney.

My favorite exhibit there: UNFINISHED — THOUGHTS LEFT VISIBLE

Some of the pieces were unfinished in the usual sense, like the paintings by Tintoretto (above) and Van Gogh (below).  In the Tintoretto painting you can see that some of the characters are fully rendered, some are hovering in the clouds as sketches.  In the Van Gogh, the sky is unfinished, a series of scattered brush strokes. The artist took his own life before completing the work.

Street in Auvers-Sur-Oise

Below are two unfinished paintings. In one, the artist has completed the face, but not much else; in the other, it’s the opposite — all but the face seems complete. An insight into how each artist worked?

Klimt's Posthumous Portrait of Ria Munk III

Meng’s Portrait of Mariana de Silva y Sarmiento

It seemed that every artist I’d ever heard of was represented in this exhibit: El Greco, Rembrandt, Velasquez, Monet, Manet, Sergent . . . on and on.

One more piece deserves a specific mention, however. Not a painting, but an installation

Robert Smithson's Mirrors and Shelly Sand

A long pile of sand is spread directly on the floor. The documentation reminds us that even in the museum, the sand is vulnerable to loss and disintegration, an illustration of incompleteness in its own way. The mirrors that accompany the sand change our perception of the sand. I was fascinated by this installation, and understand how it can be viewed as “unfinished,” reminding me of Sir Isaac Newton’s comment:

I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore . . . while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

I would appreciate the thoughts of anyone else who has seen this installation. Otherwise, I’m going to have to rush back to NYC and interview people in the gallery.


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4 Responses to “NYC UNFINISHED”

  1. They are fascinating questions. Is art ever “finished?” Where does it begin?
    Be sure to let us know when your book is out!

  2. I found this fascinating, too, when I saw it featured on “60 Minutes” (I think that’s where I saw it). At the time, I was just completing my soon-to-be released nonfiction book, “The Soul of Art.” The story inspired me to add a new section, “When Does Art Become Art?” It’s a wonderful question. I make a stab at an answer.

  3. Camille says:

    Most museums allow photos, as long as there’s no flash.

  4. Dick Rufer says:

    I wonder if this museum allows visitors to take photographs of its art. In the past, I believe that was prohibited by many public galleries.