01 December 2007

Roberto Matta’s Being With had for a while been at the Southeastern entrance to the first floor Modern galleries at the Met but this situation has made way for an abundantly curated room with Damien Hirst’s shark and other shark and death-related paintings. I asked the guard where the Matta and Beckmann had gone and he said ‘One of them is through there somewhere.’ I had to anticipate which one. It was the Matta, which has found a new home between Barbara Hepworth and Isamu Noguchi sculptures that resemble figures in the painting, facing some complimentary Motherwells. In the old days there was a comfortable couch in front of the Beckmann triptych from which you could look at the Matta from the distance. Sitting on the floor next to the Noguchi you realize that distance was too much. Also, Being With should be looked at after the Ghiberti doors, especially the sequence of the Jacob and Esau relief

and the Adam and Eve relief,

as it relates to the use of perspective (in both) and the whole Gates of Paradise expulsion theme.

You can go to the Mezzanine to see the Abstract Expressionists copy Max Ernst or you could go straight to the new Oceania gallery and walk through Ernst’s soul. That’s a recommendation: if you live in or near NYC, go to the Oceania gallery soon and often. I also found some ancient Egyptian Ernsts with Loplop birds.

I did also get to the Cloisters first and then the Met. It really should be reversed: see the Ghiberti doors on a weekday (til Jan 13) first thing in the morning, and then go to the Cloisters after lunch when the school groups are gone.