Friday, June 10, 2011

Two adjacent (but very different) new shows at the Metropolitan Museum

   Although it seems to have slipped in under the radar, the collection of portraits in pastel from the 18th century is worth a visit. I had no idea that this medium was in use this early. These portraits are bright, colorful and full of life. There's even one by John Singleton Copley, who was one of the most important portraitists in early America.
   In the next gallery there's a photography show called "Night Visions," which includes works shot at night by such greats as Brassai, Bill Brandt, Diane Arbus and Weegee, a paparazzi in the 1940's whose main tools were a police radio scanner, a big old press camera, endless chutzpah and a darkroom in the trunk of his car, allowing him to develop pictures in time to sell them to the tabloids for the next day's paper. Dark is the operative word, for some of his work makes Diane Arbus' seem almost Pollyanna-ish. (See below.)
   If you come to see these on a Thursday morning, be sure to stop by at the Information Desk in the Medieval Hall, where every week I voluntarily direct people to Rembrandt,Vermeer and the rest room.

A late 18th Century French Nobleman with his head still attached.

 A  1940 New Yorker who wasn't so lucky. Weegee titled this "Human Head Cakebox Murder."

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