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Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Commissions Contemporary Art to Take Center Stage

Contemporary artists would do well to have their work displayed on the prestigious front and Great Hall walls of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. (more than 3.4 million in 2022).

Berlin-based artist Nairy Baghramian’s “Scratching the Back” exhibition, which runs from September 7 through May 19, has four sculptures she created specifically for the façade niches along Fifth Avenue. Jacolby Satterwhite, a multimedia artist living in Brooklyn, will have an exhibition in the Great Hall from October 2nd through November 23rd.

Director Max Hollein remarked that the two new commissions, coupled with Lauren Halsey’s roof garden project (which opens on April 18), are representative of the museum’s aims.

These are prominent locations, although they may not be simple for artists to fill. “They are potent spaces, but difficult,” Hollein remarked. That’s not just another white box, you know.

Hollein, who will take over as director of the museum this summer, emphasised that the commissions were just a small element of the Met’s overall thrust to place contemporary art in the spotlight.

According to Hollein, the Mexican architect Frida Escobedo is responsible for the design of the new $500 million wing for Modern and contemporary art. The completion date is set for 2029.

The Iranian-born Baghramian, whose work will be on display, is known for his abstract, multicoloured sculptures that “seem to have washed up like flotsam and jetsam,” as the museum puts it. This will be her first major public artwork in New York City, and the fourth in the series of commissions for the Met facade.

Since the premiere of two enormous paintings by Canadian artist Kent Monkman in 2019 there has been no formal commission for the Great Hall. According to Hollein, “it’s not on a schedule.” “The Great Hall is reserved for special occasions only.”

South Carolina-born artist Satterwhite launched his video work for Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall renovation project in October. titled “An Eclectic Dance to the Music of Time,” it was included in the Whitney Biennial in 2014.

Intricate video, audio, and performance interventions will all be part of the piece he creates. Some of the animation will use 3-D scanned items from the Met’s collection.

Sarah Arison, head of the Arison Arts Foundation and a museum patron, is providing funding for the Satterwhite piece in the Great Hall.

Arison, who is also a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art and the Aspen Art Museum, described the new museum as “a grand, institutional space.” I’m thrilled that the Met plans to feature a young, innovative artist.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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