The first time I visited the Met, I walked through the "Model as Muse" exhibit, which was stunning and tragic at the same time. It was enthralling to be able to see the old covers of Vogue- covers from a time when the publication still held its dignity and had old fashioned class. One cover stands out in my mind. It is black and white, and simply has the face of a woman on the front, wearing a large brimmed hat. The hat has a connecting piece of net on it that partially hides the woman's face, making for a mysterious, sexy, and unforgettable image. I think one of the only colors visible is the red from her lipstick. It is so simple, yet so elegant. These days, Vogue is something close to 75 percent ads. As I made my way through the exhibit, it was sad to see the classic fashions of Dior and Chanel fade and give way to the trashy, edgy looks that Kate Moss sports. Suffice it to say, the evolution of fashion says a lot about the direction our culture has gone and where we are headed. Magazines pander to the consumer-driven world of advertising, and, sadly, they are watered down versions of what they used to be.
Now that I'm done with my little tirade about modern culture, I will tell you a little story about something that happened to me in the Impressionist exhibit. I've always been a huge fan of Impressionism, mainly because of the light and use of color that is such a large part of it altogether. One of my all time favorite museums is the Musee D'Orsay in Paris, due to its large collection of brilliant impressionist paintings by Monet, Degas, Van Gogh- among others. I could really spend all day looking at this stuff; it just makes me so calm and happy. So anyways, I am looking at this beautiful painting of the shore by Degas, and all of the sudden, this short, creepy looking guy comes up to me and asks me what my opinion is of this painting and if I am an artist. He then starts to go on about his attempts at art and his skills at writing, which is really of no interest to me whatsoever. I think I tried to be somewhat friendly and told him about my career as a staff writer for our school newspaper, which seemed to impress him a bit too much. However, after this short attempt at socializing with a complete stranger, I awkwardly listened a bit longer and decided it was time to make my escape. This sorts of run ins are commonplace for me- just ask anyone who knows me well. Is there a sign on me that says, "Please come talk to me and increase the level of awkwardness in my life, because it just isn't high enough"?
My second visit to the Met was with a friend, and I must say that going with somebody is far different than going alone (more enjoyable? Depends on your mood). I showed her my favorites, as if the Met was my living room. There's something empowering about being able to guide somebody around the Met. It was also nice to have feedback about the art this time and to not have random strangers approach you for no particular reason. We were particularly impressed with the large, open room full of statues that is used for swanky fundraising events. Light streams in from the glass windows located at the top and causes the place to glow, contrasting nicely the rest of the museum, which is is dark and cold.
Another impressive part of the museum is its Egyptian art collection. From sculptures to vases to sarcophogi (how the heck do you spell that?)- they really have it all. It's always been so fascinating to me that all of these artifacts still exist, despite thousands of years of death, destruction, wars, etc. I will admit that I used to have a strange obsession with all things Egypt, so their vast collection really excites me. When I was in grade school, I would check out books every single week from the library on mummies and pyramids. I was literally obsessed with mummies- especially King Tut. I truly believed that the curse of King Tut was on the whole city of Cairo and that everybody there was doomed for all eternity. Looking back, I don't know how I slept at night after looking at pictures hundred year old frozen explorers found in Nova Scotia and the like. I'm not normal now, and I wasn't back then either. Nobody needs to remind me of that; I am too aware of it.
I think I'll go to the Met again many more times, both alone and with friends; it is nice knowing that I can walk six blocks and pay fifty cents (or less) for the likes of Monet, Michaelangelo, and 5,000 year old Egyptian sculptors. No offense, guys.