THE MET’S BREUER
By Naomi Barling
What exactly the Metropolitan Museum of Art intends to do with its new space in the building once occupied by the Whitney Museum of American Art has been a question in the art world for some time. But the wait is over. The Met’s contemporary art program is expanding to include a new series of exhibitions, performances, artist commissions, residencies, and educational initiatives and the brutalist landmark building designed by Marcel Breuer on Madison Avenue and 75th Street is going to house it. Opening to the public on March 10, 2016, The Met Breuer will provide additional space for the public to explore the art of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries through the global breadth and historical reach of the Met’s unparalleled collection and scholarly resources.
Marcel Lajos Breuer (aka Lajkó to his friends) was born on 21 May 1902 in Hungary. His early studies and teaching at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau in the twenties introduced the prodigy to the older giants of the era like Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius who had a life-long influence on his creative visions. By the time he left Germany in 1935 to join Gropius in London, the Bauhaus School founded by German architect Walter Adolph Georg Gropius; Breuer was one of the best-known designers in Europe. His reputation was shaped by his invention of tubular steel furniture, one big residence, two apartment houses, some shop interiors and several competition entries.
The Met will develop and present programming at The Met Breuer for a period of eight years, following a collaborative agreement between New York’s other major Art Museum the Whitney. The Whitney was the previous owner of the building but is now relocated in downtown Manhattan looking over the Hudson.
In addition to exhibitions and performances, The Met Breuer will host a wide range of educational and public programming for visitors of all ages, connecting audiences with practicing artists through art-making, talks, and activities in the galleries. The two museums will pursue collaborations on collections sharing, publications, and other educational activities. This will be an initiative that will involve curators across the two Museums.
The Inaugural season at the Marcel Breuer building will feature a thematic exhibition investigating the attraction of unfinished works of art, from the Renaissance to the present day. The artists showing will be Indian modernist artist Nasreen Mohamedi, Diane Arbus’ rarely seen early photographs, and a mid-career retrospective of the contemporary painter Kerry James Marshall whose work focuses on issues of black identity. The performance works will be by artist in residence Vijay Iyer, a newly commissioned sonic experience by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams, and an all-day staging and premiere at the Met’s three locations of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s unfinished electro-acoustic composition Klang.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art will launch its first season of programming in the Breuer building on Madison Avenue when it opens to the public on Thursday, March 10, 2016.