Waiting Game, or: Three Trips to "The Met"

Pablo Picasso
Vallauris Exposition, 1956

I’m sitting here at home today waiting for somebody from the phone company to arrive. That’s because I’m switching my telephone, cable TV and internet service from the cable company to the phone company. The primary reason for this is that the cable company does not carry BBC America, a station that I want to have that includes “Doctor Who” and other good shows, while the phone company does have it (though sadly not in HD, which other providers not in this area do have it in).

For the same price that I’m paying now, I’ll also be getting more stations like Showtime, a DVR so I can record programs if I’m out (I recorded “Dancing With the Stars” on my VCR last week and it looked horrible on my big new HD set), and a wireless router so I can use my new iPod to check messages and look up stuff on the web if the computer is turned off, and which would allow visitors to use wi-fi on their laptops instead of having to use my computer.

All this will only be possible, however, if they can find a place to put the big new box they have to install to connect the fiber optic cable to the system here. We’ll see.
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I did something recently that I haven’t done for years. I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on consecutive weekends.

Last weekend, I went to the Met to see the exhibit of drawings by Agnolo Bronzino, one of my favorite Italian artists. I’d seen some of his classic paintings in Italy last year, and I didn’t want to miss this exhibit of his works – the way that I’d recently missed the show of all the photographic prints from Robert Frank’s classic book, “The Americans.”

Bronzino was certainly a great artist, though as I recall, all of these drawings were just preparatory works for paintings and not finished works of art in themselves. Nonetheless, seeing a drawing of something often has a more intimate and personal feel to it than a painting – especially a larger painting. Here are a few works seen in the show:

Head of a Smiling Young Woman, 1542-43

Head of a Young Man, 1550-55

Seated Male Nude, 1565-69

While I saw the Bronzino show on its final weekend, I went this past Saturday – two days ago – to see the new Picasso exhibit during a preview for members of the museum. If what I attended was just a preview for members, I can imagine that when the exhibit opens to the general public tomorrow it will be quite packed.

The Met joined the Picasso collecting game rather late, but according to what was posted there, it now holds the second largest collection of Picasso works in the United States – second only to the Museum of Modern Art here in New York.

This exhibition displays every work by Picasso that the museum holds. Organized chronologically, it offers the viewer a look at the wide variety of Pablo Picasso’s artistic output – from his early days (when he made a self-portrait showing himself with lots of hair on his head), through cubism, classicism, his work with linoleum cut prints, and finally to a large room filled with prints – etchings and aquatints – from his famous ‘347’ series of 1968 (some of them quite sexually graphic and explicit).

Here are some of the works on display that I found of interest, presented in chronological order:

Yo (self-portrait), 1900

Jardin de Paris, 1901

Woman in Green, 1901

Seated Harlequin, 1901

Blind Man’s Meal, 1903

Frugal Repast, 1904
This etching was the first important print in Picasso’s long and prolific career as a printmaker.

Standing Nude, 1907-08

The Farmer’s Wife, 1908

Standing Female Nude, 1910

Three Bathers by the Shore, 1920

Head of a Woman, 1922

Three Bathers, 1923

Woman in White, 1923

Head of a Woman, 1927
The label for this one says it looks like a depiction of a scary, angry woman – but I kind of think it looks like Dino the Dinosaur. (Well, the top part, anyway.)

The Dreamer, 1932

Sculptor at Rest II, 1933
I absolutely LOVE this image! The lines are just so gorgeous, as is the sense of peace and tranquility. If I could take home but one work of art from this exhibition, without a doubt this would be the one.
Sculptor at Rest IV, 1933
Like the artwork above it, this etching is one of 100 prints belonging to the Suite Vollard, a series of prints made by Picasso from 1930 to 1937 and considered the most important of his career.

Blind Minotaur Led by a Girl Through the Night, 1934

Reading at a Table, 1934

Seated Nude, 1943

David and Bathsheba, 1947

Bacchanal with a Flute Player, 1955

Bulls in Vallauris, 1955

Bacchanal, 1959
Like the prints above and below, this is a linoleum cut.

Jacqueline Leaning on Her Elbows, 1959

Jacqueline in a Straw Hat, 1962

Standing Nude and Seated Musketeer, 1968

Bust of a Dead Painter Crowned by the Academy, 1968
This and the following prints belong to the ‘347 Suite,’ a series of 347 prints that Picasso prepared during about half a year in 1968.

Woman on a Roman Chariot, 1968

Elongated Man with Two Women Telling Tales of an Old Clown and a Young Girl, 1968

Celestine Presenting Her Two Pensioners to Two Clients, 1968
Some of these prints are definitely on the raunchy side, especially those from the ‘Celestine’ series, such as this one. I’d seen some of these before and had thought of these as Picasso’s ‘dirty old man’ series, but some of the others on display – such as those in his ‘Raphael and La Fornarina’ series – are even more graphic.

Faun and Bacchante with Battle of Fauns in the Distance, 1968

Raphael and La Fornarina XXIII, 1968

Raphael and La Fornarina XIX, 1968
The Pope appears to be enjoying the proceedings, both here and below.

Raphael and La Fornarina XX, 1968
As somebody has written about Picasso (here):
“Whereas the brushstrokes of Picasso’s paintings of the period are the largest of his life and the depictions are similarly among the sparest of his long career, the prints in contradistinction involve as fine a line as ever. Picasso seems to have been saying through these prints that even as a nonagenarian he still had a razor-sharp gaze and steady hand—if his paintings tended toward abstraction, it was by choice and not as a product of his old age. His advancing age did of course take its toll in other ways. But although his virility is believed to have waned a decade prior to his death, clearly his mind delightfully remained in the gutter!”
So, that’s it – a brief overview of the exhibit. I cannot think of another artist who created works so stylistically different from each other over the years, but can at the same time be seen as the work of one hand. If you are in or will be in New York during the run of the show, April 27 – August 1, do try to pay a visit. I know that I’m planning to see it again. (If, on the other hand, you happen to live in rural Minnesota, perhaps it’s best to stay away.)******************************************************************************

Between my two visits to the Met, I made a visit to the other “Met” – the Metropolitan Opera. I went to see Richard Wagner’s opera, “Der Fliegende Hollaender” (The Flying Dutchman). This was part of my subscription at the Met, and though I am by no means a fan of German opera, I had wanted to see this one as I’d heard good things about it and I liked the overture.

Well, I did like the overture. I also liked the opera’s last five minutes, which were pretty dramatic. The opening chorus of Act III was pretty good, too. Unfortunately, I thought that just about everything else was pretty much a waste. (At least, the parts for which I was able to stay awake.) Just singers droning on and on with hardly any melody.
Wagner did write some beautiful music (even though he was a rat bastard as a human being), but most of that good music is hidden away between hours and hours of singers just standing there droning on and on – seemingly forever. (Somebody’s once described going to a Wagner opera as such: you sit there for three hours; then you look at your watch and you see that it’s only been twenty minutes.) Fortunately, this opera only ran for about two hours and twenty minutes – without any intermission – so I guess it could have been worse.
While I don’t care for German opera for the most part, I do love the Italian stuff, and I finish off my subscription in a couple of weeks with Rossini’s not-often performed “Armida.” I hope to like this one.
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Oh, before I forget: the man from the phone company arrived about 10 a.m. and is still working as I write this around 3:45 p.m. I don’t know when he’ll be done – so I guess I’m still waiting!

(Several hours later)

Well, the waiting is over. The main installer had to leave to go someplace else, so another guy came by to finish the job. Everything seems to work, but I still have a lot to figure out about the new system. Hopefully it won’t take too long.

About Dave Rudin

Dave Rudin is a fine art photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in art nude and travel photography, using black & white film and making silver gelatin prints in a darkroom.
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3 Responses to Waiting Game, or: Three Trips to "The Met"

  1. Lin says:

    Great exhibition! As a drawing-nut I really enjoyed those pieces. Thank you so much for posting them :-)Reviews of the new Dr Who are mixed. The stories are better (the new writer is excellent) but I still miss David Tennant!

  2. Dave Rudin says:

    Thanks for the comment, Lin. I'm glad you like the images. Just too bad you can't be here to see the real thing. As I wrote, I'm sure I'll go back to see it again, and the museum will be having a free lecture series about Picasso in June – and Francoise Gilot is scheduled to be a speaker!Regarding the good Doctor, I've seen the first three episodes. They seem pretty good, though some story aspects seem taken from earlier episodes. I ask met Matt Smith and Karen Gillan when they came to NY on a publicity tour recently.

  3. Hi Dave–Great post man. I bought a reproduction of Frugal Repast when I went to the Picasso Museum in Spain in 1986. It is one of my favorite pieces of art ever, so quiet, like dusk itself. Always enjoy your posts.–ward

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