50 Museums in 50 Weeks

5 Sep
Delilah Shearing Samson’s Hair (detail), by the workshop of the Boucicaut Master.
Bible historiale; France, Paris, ca. 1415–20.
Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.394, f. 112 (detail). [source]

One month in…

Today I have been in New York for exactly one month! Last week I decided to set a goal to see (at least) fifty different museums during my first year, roughly one museum a week. I will track my progress on this blog with my highlights and occasionally some background information on various institutions or works of art.

This weekend I saw two museums: the Morgan Library & Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.

First Stop: The Morgan Library & Museum

I chose the Morgan Library & Museum to be my first visit to a New York museums because of the current exhibition, “Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art”. In a previous post, I mention that Eero Saarinen’s list enumerating his favorite qualities about his bride-to-be, Aline Bernstein is included in this show.

While I did see Eero Saarinen’s charming note in person, I spent most of my time in another show at the Morgan. “Illuminating Fashion: Dress in the Art of Medieval France and the Netherlands,” which closed yesterday, tracks the evolution of fashion trends in the Middle Ages in Northern Europe in over fifty manuscripts and printed books.

Geneviève Receiving King Mark’s Letter, by the Master of the Vienna Mamerot.
Romance of Tristan; France, Bourges? dated 1468.
Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.41, f. 24v (detail). [source]

A bit about the Morgan

“No price is too high for an object of unquestioned beauty and known authenticity.” -Pierpont Morgan

American financier Pierpont Morgan began collecting art in 1890, following the death of his father, Junius Morgan.Thirty-four years later J.P. Morgan, Jr. bequeathed his father’s library to the public.

As the collection grew, the institution likewise expanded beginning with the 1902-1906 Charles Follen McKim addition of the palazzo-style private library for Pierpont Morgan. In 1988 J.P. Morgan, Jr. purchased a mid-nineteenth-century brownstone on Madison Avenue and 37th Street and used this building as his personal residence. A few years later a garden court tied the buildings together. Lastly, in 2006 the Pritzker Prize winning architect Renzo Piano unveiled the most recent addition to the Morgan complex, a system of three diaphanous steel-and-glass pavilions.

View of new Madison Avenue entrance, Photography by Michel Denancé [source]

Top Pick from the MoMA

The Museum of Modern Art recently installed eight works by the late painter, Lucien Freud (1922-2011), on its second floor. The London-based artist’s lengthy career was dedicated to creating haunting and merciless paintings, drawings, and prints rooted in observation. The meticulously-crafted portrait below, Girl With Leaves, is from my favorite period of his work.

Lucian Freud, Girl with Leaves, 1948. Pastel on gray paper.
Purchase. © 2011 Lucian Freud [source]

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