Friday, August 6, 2010

Beyond the Blockbusters at the Met

New York Times
August 5, 2010

Wall Street may be fattening up, but New York’s art institutions aren’t. There’s a conspicuous recessionary logic behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s two marquee spring-summer exhibitions, one devoted to Picasso, the other to American fashion. Both were homegrown, low-overhead productions, pulled entirely from the permanent collection.

The good news is that self-reliance has worked.

Thanks to the Met’s oceanic closets and to its long, shrewd effort to shape itself into a popular entertainment hub, the two exhibitions have been hits, the Picasso in particular — even with B-level art — generating a blockbusterish frisson.

And both are closing soon, on Aug. 15, which means — doesn’t it? — that we’ll be on short exhibition rations till the new season kicks off in September. No. August is prime time, with the Met full of shows that many of us have had neither the time and stamina nor the healthy curiosity to catch earlier. Manageable in scale, cogent in theme, with material often unfamiliar even to experts, they are some of the hidden highlights of the season.


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