Metropolitan Museum of Art
‘Ancient Egypt Transformed’ 12 October 2015–24 January 2016
The behemoth Metropolitan Museum of Art – the US’s largest museum – takes centre stage in New York this autumn. Their blockbuster will be ‘Ancient Egypt Transformed’. The exhibition tells how Middle Kingdom ruler Mentuhotep II reunited Upper and Lower Egypt to usher in four centuries of economic and artistic transformation. Claimed to be the first major exhibition on the period, the 230 objects are drawn from the Met’s own exceptional collection and 37 lenders, with many objects on public view for the first time.
On your way through the museum to reach it, consider deviating to catch a few more of the special exhibitions celebrating the Met’s Asian department centenary: displays focus on the museum’s own Chinese paintings (31 October 2015–11 October 2016), on the Mary Griggs Burke collection of Japanese art (20 October 2015–31 July 2016), and on South Indian masks for dance-dramas about the Hindu god Vishnu (19 December 2015–5 June 2016).
It’s a while off yet, but New Yorkers are waiting with baited breath for the Met Breuer (the old Whitney building) to open in March – it’s already a hot topic of discussion here.
Whitney Museum of American Art
‘Frank Stella’ 30 October 2015–7 February 2016
‘Collected by Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner’ 20 November 2015–6 March 2016
Which brings us to the light-filled and popular new Whitney, already an established presence in its downtown block. The excellent opening exhibition of its permanent collection, ‘America is Hard to See’, ends 27 September. There follow a variety of shows. The two star ones will be a career retrospective of Frank Stella, co-organised with the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and ‘Collected by Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner’, co-organised with the Centre Pompidou (where it travels afterwards). The Wagners, major New York collectors and dealers who champion both American and international art dating from the 1960s until today, have given 800 works to be divided between the two museums. This show cherry-picks the best.
Museum of Modern Art
‘Picasso Sculpture’ 14 September 2015–7 February 2016
MoMA kicks off its autumn season early with a stunner, ‘Picasso Sculpture’, which promises to be a fascinating sweep through the master’s long career seen though more than 100 of his pieces. Untrained in sculpture, Picasso would often experiment with materials and techniques to make very personal objects.
Elsewhere in this art-packed city there will be something for every art taste. The Frick Collection looks at Andrea del Sarto’s hugely successful Florentine workshop (7 October 2015–10 January 2015) while the Morgan Library displays its third selection of ‘Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection’ – the latest group is about trees (24 November 2015–10 July 2016). Taking a broader view, the Rubin Museum of Art looks at ‘Sacred Spaces’ and how they are a setting for works of art (23 October 2015–27 March 2016); Queens Museum shows a career retrospective of Chinese born, Queens-based and politically-charged artist ‘Zhang Hongtu’ (18 October 2015–28 February 2016); and Brooklyn Museum gives us a new take on the forever beguiling Impressionism topic: ‘Impressionism and the Caribbean: Francisco Oller and His Transatlantic World’, looking at how Oller returned from Madrid and Paris to revolutionise painting in his native Puerto Rico (2 October 2015–3 January 2016).