Top 20: must-see works from the Metropolitan's collection

The AQA takes you on a tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection of works of art, or New York's darling Met. See here a special selection of works from the collection

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

After taking you on a tour of the collections of the MASP, MoMA It's from Louvre in the month of may, ARTEQUEACONTECE returns with special lists of works that are in the collections of some of the main museums around the world and that you cannot miss if you visit them one day. Today we're going back to New York City to visit works that say a lot about what you'll find when you visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, affectionately called the Met by those closest to you.

First of all, know that you can access the collection in its entirety virtually, being able to consult information about the works, clicking here🇧🇷 There, some works are also accompanied by an explanatory audio, narrated by specialists, so that you can delve even further into the works.

Now, know that we have chosen here two dozen works that show various aspects of the institution, from “standard classic” art, such as a painting by Degas and Manet, to a piece of clothing of indigenous origin from North America to a copy of a book from a Brazilian artist to contemporary art icons such as El Anatsui and Robert Rauschenberg.

In recent months, we have seen a number of museums sell precious works from their collections to overcome the financial crisis caused by the pandemic. The “x” of this question is that these works usually go to private collections, staying out of public view. It is important, therefore, to enjoy it while we can appreciate several incredible works up close.

Check below which are these 20 highly esteemed works!

Edgar Degas, Dancing Class, 1870

This is Degas's first depiction of a dance class. As the artist did not yet have backstage privileges at the Paris Opéra, his models came to his studio to pose. These sessions yielded many large study drawings, which Degas later adapted for other compositions. In the late 1870s he explained: "I painted so many of these dance exams without having seen them that I am a little ashamed of it".

Diane Arbus, Child with a toy hand grenade in Central Park, NYC 1962

An iconic image that embodies the strange tension between childlike silliness and primal violence, this has become one of the most famous photos in the history of the medium. America's historic transition from the complacent isolationism of the 1950s to the sociopolitical turmoil that would emerge in the late 1960s and 1970s seems to boil under the surface of this image, underscoring Arbus's prescience and intuitive grasp of his time.

Paul Cezanne, Bathers, 1874–1875

This is one of Cézanne's earliest paintings of bathers, a subject that involved him for the rest of his career. Although fascinated by the nude human figure, the artist worked slowly and was uncomfortable with female models, so he derived these scenes from his imagination and his rich knowledge of classical and Renaissance art. The women's rhythmic poses, showing their bodies from different angles, reappear, with variations, in Cézanne's later work. However, he soon tempered the vibrant, sophisticated color palette favored by his fellow Impressionists.

Faith Ringgold, Street Story Quilt, 1985

In this triptych, Ringgold combines language and imagery to structure his complex and fantastical narrative of survival and redemption set in an apartment building in Harlem. By 1983, Ringgold had delved into a new art form, story quilting, which felt like a natural progression from her painting, fabric sculpture, and performance art. With story quilts, this activist artist – preoccupied throughout her career with issues of feminism and race – creates a new expression that recognizes cultural and personal history. Domestic arts – sewing, quilting, weaving – have long been associated with women, and quilting reflects the folk traditions (and struggles and accomplishments) of black women. For Ringgold, the fact that her mother was a seamstress and fashion designer adds another evocative layer of meaning and history to an already charged medium. The narrative too – the expression of the narrative – carries dense references with legends, tales and even jokes associated with the life of the African-American community and oral history.

Auguste Rodin, Honore de Balzac, 1891

Rodin made several preparatory studies to create a tribute to Balzac, commissioned by the Société des Gens de Lettres. As the head evolved from a real portrait to the huge, rough, mask-like face of the final version, Rodin made several trips to Tours, where Balzac had lived. There, he hoped to find men with facial features similar to Balzac's to serve as models for the author's portrait. This terracotta original represents one of the models, a man named Estager, whom Rodin identified as the “Maestro de Tours”.

Anselm Kiefer, Winter Landscape, 1970

The contemplation of wild or “sublime” landscapes was a hallmark of Romantic era picture-making, and the land itself served as a powerful symbol of the German nationalist body and its dominance, promoted during the Nazi period under the slogan Blut und Boden (Blood and Soil). In this watercolor, however, the land has been roughly plowed and covered with snow, and the spare trees in the background lend a bleak tone to the scene. A woman's disembodied head rises above the field, smeared with blood-red watercolor; this martyr is a personification of the earth, now stained by the events of human history.

Edouard Manet, The Monet family in their garden at Argenteuil, 1874

In July and August 1874, Manet vacationed at his family home in Gennevilliers, across the Seine from Monet at Argenteuil. The two painters saw each other frequently that summer, and on several occasions Renoir joined them. While Manet was painting this picture of Monet with his wife Camille and son Jean, Monet was painting Manet at his easel (location unknown). Renoir, who arrived just as Manet was starting work, borrowed paints, brushes, and canvas, positioned himself beside Manet, and painted Madame Monet and her son (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC).

Louise Bourgeois, eyes, 1982

eyes it is a large marble sculpture that shows the persistence of surrealist iconography in his later works. The eye, a recurring motif in Surrealism, served both as a symbol for the act of perception and as an allusion to female sexual anatomy. Perched atop a massive block of marble carved in various places to resemble a house (a recurring motif in his work) are two highly polished round balls with a circular opening carved at each center. As a unit, they suggest a bold abstract head, a female torso, or a woman's symbolic marriage to home and family.

Robert Rauschenberg, Winter Pool, 1959


Winter Pool was Rauschenberg's first painting to enter the Met's collection, it is an excellent example of a very important period in the work of this highly inventive and influential artist - from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s - when he created daring objects that were a hybrid of painting and sculpture and a reinvention of collage. He called them the Combines. In cubist collage, glued papers result in a legible image, like a still life. With Combines, there is no narrative and interpretation is left to the viewer.

Jacob Lawrence, pool parlor, 1942


In 1942, the 25-year-old Lawrence gained national recognition when the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, shared in the acquisition of his series of sixty panels. Migration of the Negro and sent her on a fifteen-venue tour across the United States. Later that year, the Metropolitan Museum purchased his first work by the artist, pool parlor, winner of the contest “The Artists for Victory”. Painted with Lawrence's signature flat shapes, angular lines and a vibrant palette, the work depicts a Harlem pool hall. Men in exaggerated poses, dramatic contrasts of light and dark, and the zigzag of cigarette smoke add to the lively scene.

Susan Rothenberg, Galisteo Creek, 1992

Galisteo Creek it was inspired by a walk along the creek that runs near his home. In this aerial view, the artist's dogs run across the white, curved creek while black crows fly overhead, impenetrable to the rotting corpse of a calf lying to the right of the water.

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, Self-Portrait with Two Pupils, 1785

Labille-Guiard's self-portrait with her students Marie Gabrielle Capet and Marguerite Carreaux de Rosemont is one of the most remarkable images of women's art education in early modern Europe. In 1783, when Labille-Guiard and Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun were admitted to the Académie Royale, the number of women artists eligible for membership was limited to four. This canvas, exhibited with great success at the Salon of 1785, has been interpreted as a means of advancing his cause. As with most self-portraits by 18th-century artists, Labille-Guiard portrayed herself in impractical and elegant clothing. Primarily a portraitist, Labille-Guiard had especially faithful patrons in the daughters of Louis XV, known as the Mesdames de France.

Sicaugu Oyate Lakota/ Teton Sioux, Native American, Model tipi coverca, 1885

This flattened miniature version of a traditional tipi was created by a warrior-artist who decorated it with painted images of achievements in battle. While most depictions are generic depictions of warriors and horses, the enemy encounter images in the top center record specific events. During the reservation's early life, Plains people created objects like this for sale to visiting military personnel, government officials, teachers, and missionaries.

Gertrude Kasebier, Blessed Art Thou Among Women, 1899

F. Holland Day introduced Käsebier to amateur photographer and printer Francis Watts Lee. Käsebier made this portrait of Lee's wife Agnes and their daughter Peggy, almost certainly in their elegant Boston home. An exquisite depiction of Victorian ideals of motherhood and womanhood, reinforced by the biblical title and the print of the Annunciation on the wall behind the figures, the photograph also evokes the idyllic domesticity of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Stieglitz published the photograph in Camera Notes (July 1900) and in the first issue of Camera Work (January 1903), which was devoted to Käsebier's work. In 1906, he included this print in an exhibition of work by Käsebier and Clarence White in his Small Photosecession Galleries, opened the previous year.

Jean Dubuffet, Woman Grinding Coffee, 1945

Known for raw, childlike imagery that incorporates unconventional material and his wry sense of humor, Dubuffet based Woman Grinding Coffee on his wife, Lily. The painting bears little resemblance to it; Dubuffet flattened his head and widened his body to fill the composition with his frontal figure. Its shape is silhouetted against a somber background, which is actually a relief constructed of feces, bumps and grooves in a substance Dubuffet described as “earth fermented by water”. The approach exemplifies his concept of art brut (art brut), that is, art produced by non-professionals who work outside aesthetic norms.

Franz von Stuck, Hell, 1908

The title of this painting refers to Dante Alighieri's medieval epic about a journey through hell. Though Stuck employs traditional underworld symbols – a snake, a demon and a burning pit – the jarring colors and stylized, over-the-top poses are surprisingly modern. He designed the complementary structure. Stuck's imagery was likely inspired by Auguste Rodin's The Gates of Hell, particularly the figure of the Thinker (see related works nearby). When Inferno debuted at an exhibition of German contemporary art at the Met in 1909, critics praised its “sovereign brutality”. The image reinforced Stuck's reputation as a visionary artist unafraid to explore the dark side of the psyche.

Aloisio Magalhaes, Doorway to Brasilia, 1959

“Doorway to Brasilia” is an experimental book planned and printed at “Falcon Press” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America using the photo-offset lithography system as an art form.
Like “Doorway to Portuguese” (which also has a copy at the Met), published in 1957, this book is the result of the collaboration and effort of the Brazilian artist Aloisio Magalhães and the American artist and printer, Eugene Feldman. The chosen printing process forced the continuous use of negative tones, abandoning the classic checkered or half-tone system. These pages represent a controlled exposure test of aluminum offset plates and their capacity to fix other shades besides black. Several experiments were carried out, using plates made from the same negative, each with a progressive increase in exposure. The plates with stronger tones were printed in light colors; medium tones in gray and light tones in black. It is the opinion of its planners that this process is only limited by the imagination and creative talent of the artists who chose and developed it. Brasilia, the new capital of Brazil, was chosen as the subject of this book, for what it suggests to the imagination — a pioneering city, with expressive forms and a vitality that is, at the same time, current and eternal.

Georgia O'Keeffe, The Storm, 1922


The Storm is a sumptuous pastel that captures the incredible sight of a raging electrical storm over water. O'Keeffe created a shocking contrast between the deep pastel blue of the water and sky, blurred and velvety, and the sharp, angular beam of a red beam outlined in yellow. This dramatic scene, which she likely witnessed at Lake George, includes the startling appearance of a full moon reflected in the lake at bottom left. Although O'Keeffe's pastels were frequently displayed during the 1920s and 1930s, they represent a less familiar aspect of his work.

El Anatsui, Between Earth and Heaven, 2006

The recent series of works “Between Earth and Heaven” refers to the celebrated West African traditions of strip textiles, notably that of Kente developed by Akan and Ewe weavers in Anatsui's native Ghana. These traditional textiles are at once monumental in scale and highly sculptural in the way they drape the body as the garments of leaders. The undulation of this work evokes this tactile quality, and its resplendent gold, red, and black color scheme translates and transposes the aesthetic of finely woven silk into a base metal.

Alberto Giacometti, Three Men Walking II, 1949

Giacometti was born into a family of Swiss artists. His early work was informed by surrealism and cubism, but in 1947 he decided to produce the type of expressionist sculpture for which he is best known. His characteristic figures are extremely thin and attenuated, stretched vertically until they are mere fragments of the human form. With almost no volume or mass (although anchored in large, swollen feet), these skeletal shapes feel weightless and remote. Its otherworldly eerieness is accentuated by the matte tones of gray and beige paint, sometimes accented with touches of pink or blue, which the artist applied over the brown patina of the metal. The rough, eroded and heavily worked surfaces of Three Men Walking II typify his technique. Reduced as they are to their core, these figures evoke lone trees in winter that have lost their foliage. Within this style, Giacometti rarely deviated from the three themes that preoccupied him – the walking man; the naked woman standing; and the bust — Or all three, combined in several groupings.

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