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February 2010


Curator Interview

Black History Month Events

Black History on

A Musical Tribute to Bronzino


For Families

Dear Subscriber,

Even during the coldest days of February, the Metropolitan Museum remains vibrant with an abundance special exhibitions and fascinating programs. Recharge your spirits with a visit, and don’t miss our exciting lineup of events in celebration of Black History Month.

Image: Willie Cole (American, born 1955). Man Spirit Mask, 1999. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Francis Lathrop Fund and John B. Turner Fund, 2008 (2008.263a–c).

This work is not currently on view.

Curator Interview: Featured Work of Art

The Block is a masterful collage by Romare Bearden. Through the spring of 2010, see this vibrant work alongside a selection of Bearden’s preliminary sketches and related photographs by Albert Murray, writer and friend of the artist. Lisa M. Messinger, associate curator in the Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art, recently spoke with Met News editor Jennette Mullaney about The Block.

Bearden said, "When I sketched this block, I was looking at a particular street, but as I translated it into visual form it became something else. I lost the literalness and moved into where my imagination took me." How do the preparatory drawings and Albert Murray’s photographs impact your understanding of Bearden’s translation of a literal block to The Block?

Bearden looked out the window of his friend Albert Murray’s apartment and was inspired to create this epic narrative out of something that was very familiar and ordinary. In the snapshots the street looks really gray and innocuous, but then Bearden takes his imagination and his colorful pens and begins drawing the things that he sees—like the buildings and the people—and the things that he doesn’t actually see, like the angels (or let’s hope he doesn’t see them). It’s really great to have these studies for the collage, but what I realized is that none of them match up exactly to the finished composition. They’re not one-to-one studies for specific sections of the collage, but rather the artist’s first impressions of the scene. During the process of going from sketch to collage, he used artistic license to make changes that would keep your eye moving around the composition from color to color, from image to image. Everywhere you look there’s something to see, inside and out.

Bearden plays with scale throughout the work. For instance, he includes an image of a child’s face that is larger than some full-length figures within the same panel. What do you think Bearden was trying to convey with this creative use of scale?
I think he wanted to bring attention to certain narrative elements in the picture. He wants you to focus on the entire composition, but also see the small, little, human moments that are happening. By showing a giant child’s face, or children in a window with a giant mousetrap, it makes you look at them more carefully than if they were in proper scale, and makes you wonder what’s going on in their lives behind those tenement walls. For Bearden, who worked for many years as a social worker, and who was well aware of the economic conditions and social problems in Harlem, The Block was a compilation of these stories—and ultimately, a celebration of the triumphant human spirit, told one window, one person, one enlargement at a time.

Image: Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988). The Block, 1971. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Shore, 1978 (1978.61.1–6). © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

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Met Holiday Monday

Select galleries and shops in the Main Building of the Metropolitan Museum will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Monday, February 15, in honor of Presidents’ Day. Public restaurants will close at 4:30 p.m. See the online calendar to plan your visit.

Please note that The Cloisters Museum and Gardens, the Museum’s branch in northern Manhattan, is not open on Met Holiday Mondays.


Black History Month Events

Celebrate Black History Month with special programs at the Met. See films that explore the work of African-American artists or join scholars for gallery talks on a variety of subjects. In addition, check out February’s Look Again! programs. Designed for visitors ages five through twelve, this month’s Look Again! session topics include "Jazz," "African Masks," and "African Mothers and Children."

Romare Bearden’s The Block
Through Spring 2010
This small-focus show from the Museum’s permanent collection features the 1971 mural-size collage The Block by Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988), as well as a dozen of his preliminary sketches and photographs, which were recently given to the Museum and are being shown for the first time. To learn more about Bearden’s extraordinary work, read an interview with the exhibition’s curator in this newsletter (above).

Sweet Honey In The Rock
Friday, March 5, at 7:00 p.m. ($40)
The repertoire of this internationally renowned a cappella ensemble is steeped in the sacred music of the Black church, the clarion calls of the civil rights movement, and songs of the struggle for justice everywhere.

Please see Black History on for resources available throughout the year.

Image: Pendant Mask: Iyoba, 16th century. Edo, Court of Benin. Nigeria. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1972 (1978.412.323).

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The Parrots

All of British artist Edward Lear’s vibrantly hand-colored lithographs of parrots are reproduced as loose-leaf sheets in a decorative box.

Member Price: $90 • Non-Member Price: $100

Experience the fine art of shopping at The Met Store.


Black History on

Explore the Met’s online resources to discover more about the contributions of artists of African descent. Below are a few highlights.

From the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
Learn about African-American artists, such as modern storytellers Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, and Faith Ringgold, and sculptor and printmaker Elizabeth Catlett. Peruse essays on African art for a wealth of information on a variety of subjects, including lost-wax casting and Nok terracotta sculptures.

Met Podcast Episodes
Listen to British artist Sokari Douglas Camp discuss her work—in particular, the sculpture Nigerian Woman Shopping (1990)—in this podcast episode. Hear from African-American artist Kara Walker in two podcast episodes, one in which she discusses the 2006 exhibition Kara Walker at the Met: After the Deluge and another in which she shares her interpretation of the 1847 painting The Power of Music.

View a panel discussion with contemporary African-American artists Chakaia Booker, Willie Cole, and Whitfield Lovell that was presented in conjunction with the Met’s 2009 exhibition Provocative Visions: Race and Identity—Selections from the Permanent Collection.

See the installation of Ghanaian master El Anatsui’s Between Earth and Heaven (2006). You may also hear the artist discuss his work in a podcast episode.

For more videos, including a short profile of African-American fashion designer Arthur McGee and lectures about the art of the central African reliquary, visit the Met’s YouTube channel.

For Children
Kids can walk The Block in a popular Explore & Learn feature about Romare Bearden’s masterwork. They’ll also love listening to the African folktale of Ananse the Spider in this engaging podcast episode.

Image: El Anatsui, Ghana. Between Earth and Heaven, 2006. Nigeria. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Purchase, Fred M. and Rita Richman, Noah-Sadie K. Wachtel Foundation Inc., David and Holly Ross, Doreen and Gilbert Bassin Family Foundation and William B. Goldstein Gifts, 2007 (2007.96).

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A Musical Tribute to Bronzino

Antioch Chamber Ensemble: A Tribute to Bronzino
Saturday, March 6, at 7:00 p.m. ($40)
The award-winning Antioch Chamber Ensemble will perform a concert inspired by the exhibition The Drawings of Bronzino, featuring the world premiere of Bruce Adolphe’s "Dell’arte e delle cipolle: Omaggio al Bronzino" (Of Art and Onions: Homage to Bronzino) and including the music of Monteverdi and his contemporaries. This is a co-production with the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation, Florence, and The Learning Maestros, New York.

The Drawings of Bronzino presents nearly all the known drawings by, or attributed to, leading Italian Mannerist Agnolo Bronzino (1503–1572). See the exhibition preview for more information, including sponsorship credits.

To gain greater insight into the work of this painter, draftsman, academician, and enormously witty poet, listen to our new podcast episode with Curator Carmen Bambach.

Although The André Mertens Galleries for Musical Instruments will be closed through early 2010, you may see more than 1,500 musical instruments in the Museum’s collection online.

Image: Agnolo Bronzino (Italian, 1503–1572). Seated Male Nude, 1565–69. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Promised Gift of Leon D. and Debra R. Black, and Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2005 (2005.354).

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The Gift of Membership

A gift Membership enriches lives. Share the Met’s treasures with someone special and provide the Museum with important financial support.



Sunday at the Met—Mastering the Art of Chinese Painting: Xie Zhiliu (1910–1997)
Sunday, February 28, at 3:00 p.m.
Free with Museum admission
Curator Maxwell K. Hearn will discuss the recent gift to the Museum of a rare trove of preparatory studies and sketches by Xie Zhiliu (1910–1997), one of modern China’s leading traditional artists. In the lecture, Hearn will examine the Chinese artistic process of learning from the careful study and copying of earlier masterpieces as well as from nature. While you’re here, visit the related special exhibition Mastering the Art of Chinese Painting: Xie Zhiliu (1910–1997).

Hope, Despair, and Love: The Emotional Rollercoaster of Mahler’s Music
Friday, February 19, at 6:00 p.m. ($23)
Gilbert Kaplan, one of the foremost Gustav Mahler authorities, will explore the extraordinary range of emotions expressed in three of Mahler’s works: Hope: Symphony No. 2, Despair: Symphony No. 6, and Love: Symphony No. 10 (Unfinished).

See our calendar for more free and subscription lectures.

Image: Xie Zhiliu, (Chinese, 1910–1997). Hawk with Notes, 20th century. Drawing; ink on paper. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Gift of Sarah Shay, 2005 (2005.411.114).

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For Families

Introduce your children to a world of art at the Met. We are presenting activities throughout the month, including special programs for midwinter break.

Family Admission Offer (PDF)
Friday, February 12, through Sunday, February 21
We’re inviting families to enjoy a complimentary visit to the Met. Print out this pass (PDF) to receive one-time free admission for up to five people (the group must include at least one child age 17 or under) to the Museum’s Main Building and The Cloisters. Please note that The Cloisters will not be open on Monday, February 15.

Family Films
These short, unique films, presented in half-hourly screenings, will please the whole family. See the online calendar for details.

A Midwinter Recess’s Dream
Tuesday through Friday, February 16 through 19, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
These gallery programs, designed for children ages five through twelve, explore works of art related to the theme "Art and Government."

Start with Art Plus Show
Sunday, February 7, 14, 21, and 28, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Kids ages three through seven will create their own art inspired by the works on view in the special exhibition The Drawings of Bronzino, then see the works in the Museum’s galleries.

Family Orientations—Sounding the Pacific: Musical Instruments of Oceania
Each Saturday this February, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. or 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
A slide introduction and visit to the galleries will introduce children ages five through twelve to the special exhibition Sounding the Pacific: Musical Instruments of Oceania.

Gallery Workshops for Families
February 6, 7, and 20, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.
Discover medieval Europe with these programs at The Cloisters Museum and Gardens.

Subscription Concert
Babar the Little Elephant: New York Chamber Soloists
Saturday, February 27, at 2:30 p.m. ($25)

The Museum offers many family events and programs each week. See the calendar for more.

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