Books from the world’s most prestigious Museums and Art Galleries (Part Two: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

Yale University Press have been distributing books on behalf of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for over ten years. In the second part in our series on a selection of Yale’s museum partners, we will be taking a visit to the Met, one of New York’s most iconic institutions and the location of  the new blockbuster Alexander McQueen exhibition Savage Beauty.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York is one of the world’s largest and finest art museums. Its collections include more than two million works of art spanning 5,000 years of world culture, from prehistory to the present day and from every part of the globe. The Metropolitan Museum’s publications cover a whole range of works from the museum’s holdings, including prints, paintings, sculpture, photography, fashion, decorative art and more. Founded in 1870, the Metropolitan Museum (colloquially referred to as the Met) is located in New York City’s iconic Central Park, along Fifth Avenue.

About the Collection: The Museum’s two-million-square-foot building has vast holdings that represent a series of collections, each of which ranks in its category among the finest in the world. The American Wing, for example, houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts, presently including 24 period rooms that offer an unparalleled view of American history and domestic life. The Museum’s approximately 2,500 European paintings form one of the greatest such collections in the world—Rembrandts and Vermeers alone are among the choicest, not to mention the collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist canvases. Virtually all of the 36,000 objects constituting the greatest collection of Egyptian art outside Cairo are on display, while the Islamic art collection is one of the world’s finest. Other major collections belonging to the Museum include arms and armour, Asian art, costumes, European sculpture and decorative arts, medieval and Renaissance art, musical instruments, drawings, prints, antiquities from around the ancient world, photography, and modern and contemporary art. More than a million objects are on view from every corner of the world.

Paintings to see: Visit the Met’s collections database to browse through the hundreds of thousands of works of art from the Metropolitan’s permanent collection. Definitely worth checking out is Hokusai’s famous The Great Wave off Kanagawa from the Met’s Asian Art collection, Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze from the American wing,Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat from the European Art collection. It is also worth visiting the Costume Institute, which houses over 80,000 costumes and accessories.

Current Exhibitions: Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty (4 May – 31 July 2011), Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective (13 April – August 28 2011), Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century (5 April – 4 July 2011) and Guitar Heroes: Legendary Craftsmen from Italy to New York (9 February – 4 July 2011).

New Met books available from Yale

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty by Andrew Bolton

Alexander McQueen: Savage BeautyAlexander McQueen (1969-2010) was one of the most influential, imaginative and inspirational designers at the turn of the millennium. His fashions both challenged and expanded the conventional parameters of clothing beyond utility to a compelling expression of culture, politics and identity. Focusing on the most iconic and acclaimed designs of his prolific career, this stunning book examines McQueen’s inimitable technical virtuosity and its subversion of traditional tailoring and dressmaking practices. This book also focuses on the highly sophisticated narrative structures found in McQueen’s collections and in his astonishing and extravagant runway presentations, which suggested the most avant-garde installation and performance art. Intended as an assessment of Alexander McQueen’s entire career, this book includes in-depth studies of six collections that illustrate and encapsulate thematic chapters as well as an interview with Sarah Burton, the new creative director of Alexander McQueen who had been the designer’s right-hand design aide since 1996, and whose wedding dress was recently showcased at the Royal Wedding. More

Pastel Portraits: Images of 18th-century Europe by Katharine Baetjer, Marjorie Shelley

Pastel PortraitsBrightly hued, highly finished, and relatively large in scale, pastels in the 18th century were regarded as a type of painting and displayed like oils. The powdery, vibrant crayons are particularly suited to capturing the skin tones and evanescent expressions that characterize the most lifelike portraits. Pastels cannot be permanently displayed because they are susceptible to fading, and they rarely travel. Until now, there has never been an exhibition in the U.S. devoted to these intriguing and important works. Pastel Portraits, the companion book to an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, presents over 40 exquisite works by French, Italian, English, Swiss, and American artists. It offers a technical discussion of the materials and explains why pastels achieved widespread popularity in the 1700s and how the fabrication of this medium intersected with Enlightenment thinking. More

100 Dresses: The Costume Institute by Harold Koda

100 DressesWhat woman can resist imagining herself in a beautiful designer dress? Here, for the first time ever, are 100 fabulous gowns from the permanent collection of the renowned Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, each of which is a reminder of the ways fashion reflects the broader culture that created it. Featuring designs by Paul Poiret, Coco Chanel, Madame Gres, Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, and many others, this one-of-a-kind collection presents a stunning variety of garments. Ranging from the buttoned-up gowns of the late 17th century to the cutting-edge designs of the early 21st, the dresses provide a vivid picture of the sensibilities and excesses of each era while providing a vivid picture of how styles have changed – sometimes radically – over the years. Each dress tells a story about its period and serves as a testament to the enduring ingenuity of the fashion designer’s art. Images of the dresses are accompanied by informative text and enhanced by close-up details as well as runway photos, fashion plates, works of art, and portraits of designers. A glossary of related terms is also included. More (also out soon from Yale is the follow up 100 Shoes, which can be found in our Autumn / Winter 2011 Catalogue).

Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the Nineteenth Century by Sabine Rewald

Rooms with a ViewDuring the first half of the 19th century, the open window emerged as a consistent motif in German, Danish, French, and Russian art. Rooms with a View is the first book to explore this intriguing theme in European art, with its Romantic intimations of unfulfilled longing and its associated qualities of poetry, luminosity, and interiority. Artists depicted this intangible mood with images of contemplative figures in hushed, sparely furnished rooms; painters diligently at work in their studios; simple, serene displays of light entering a chamber; and, windows as the focal point of views in their own right. “Rooms with a View” features forty oils and thirty works on paper by both well-known and largely undiscovered artists, including Caspar David Friedrich, Carl Gustav Carus, Georg Friedrich Kersting, Adolph Menzel, Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, Martinus Rorbye, Jean Alaux, Leon Cogniet, and Fyodor Petrovich Tolstoy. More

Guitar Heroes: Legendary Craftsmen from Italy to New York by Jayson Kerr Dobney

Guitar HeroesIn the Italian-American communities in New York a remarkable tradition of stringed instrument making has existed since the 19th century, with local craftsmen building traditional violins, mandolins, and guitars as well as American instruments such as banjos and archtop mandolins and guitars. Since the 1930s New York City has been a centre for archtop guitar manufacturing, and the guitars of three makers – John D’Angelico (1905-1964), James D’Aquisto (1935-1995), and John Monteleone (born 1947) – stand out for their quality of sound and design. The work of these three legendary artisans is firmly rooted in the long history of Italian, particularly Neapolitan, stringed instrument making. By examining their archtop guitars against the backdrop of the extensive collection of Italian and Italian-American stringed instruments in the Metropolitan Museum, Guitar Heroes traces the transformation of a centuries-old craft to meet the ever-changing demands of musicians and markets. More (you can also read more about this book and accompanying exhibition on this blog)

Visit Yale University Press’s London website to see a more comprehensive list of Metropolitan Museum of Art books.

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