The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 and moved to its present location on Fifth Avenue ten years later. It has benefited from the work of many illustrious architects from the 19th century on - all adding to the elegance and majesty of America’s premiere neo-classical palace of Art. Its collections are priceless, ranging from ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Assyrian, Chinese and many other cultures to contemporary painting and sculpture with an emphasis on international presentation of art in all its myriad forms.
Each season, the museum publishes a brochure called What’s On that features descriptions of the temporary exhibitions as well as gallery talks, tours, concerts, talks by the artists, conversations with curators and art historians It’s an excellent way to get acquainted with activities you might not know about and parts of the vast museum you might never have visited. It undoubtedly has an international mailing to members and patrons and perhaps an even broader audience online; as such it represents the grandeur and diversity of the museum itself.
In the current Winter brochure, there is a description of the Great Hall Commission which consists of two monumental paintings by Kent Monkman, a Cree artist, which will be on view in the Great Hall from December to April. According to the brochure “Central to his work are themes of colonization, sexuality, loss, and resilience, and he often enlists his gender-fluid alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, a time-traveling, shape-shifting, supernatural being, to challenge notions of history and indigenous peoples.” I’m not sure who wrote this but it sounds a lot like a sophomoric college student majoring in Gender Studies. In the Welcome article on the first page of the brochure, the new director of the Met, Max Hollein, had this to say about the artist: “His two monumental paintings are the latest in a series of contemporary commissions in which we invite artists to create new works inspired by the Met collection. Monkman’s themes of migrations and displacement, provocatively expressed with the help of his alter-ego, Miss Chief, disrupt our notions of history while recalling iconic American and European works.” You will notice that he left out Miss Chief’s name, a wise decision to overrule either the artist’s own words or those of his agent or the decision of a trendy-wannabe editor of What’s On.
In another location, The Museum of Sex for example, Monkman’s feeble attempt at humor or p.c. obedience might not stand out, but at the Met, it sounds as silly and crude as a child shouting curse words at church. It rings shallow and hollow under the rubric of the pinnacle of American Culture. Whoever allowed it to remain has cheapened the dignity of the Met and sadly, unlike an inappropriate comment that is spoken, this one will stand out in black print for five months. Sic transit gloria mundi………
Have PoliticalMavens.com delivered to your inbox in a daily digest by clicking here