Ten must-see works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Don't miss these important artifacts on your visit to the Met.

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  • Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art Marble portrait of the emperor...

    Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Marble portrait of the emperor Caracalla, in Greek and Roman Art
    This marble head of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (nicknamed Caracalla) was once part of a full statue. His military-style cropped curls, stubble beard and intense expression give him an intimidating and powerful look. "It's just a world-class example of one of the most fantastic things there," says Leslie Wallick, cofounder of Art Masters Tours (artmasterstours.com).

  • Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art Cubiculum (bedroom) from the villa of P...

    Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Cubiculum (bedroom) from the villa of P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale, in Greek and Roman Art
    Make sure to check out the wall paintings from Pompeii. "Not only are they pictoral, colorful and engaging, but also so tactile," says Wallick. These in particular, depicting courtyards and townscapes, were painted on a bedroom in a villa that was buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Look closely at the window and you can see the iron grating from the original house, all warped and destroyed.

  • Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art The Musicians, in European...

    Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    The Musicians, in European Paintings
    Italian artist Caravaggio was known for his realistic paintings, and this one's no exception. "You can see the dirt under their fingernails," says Wallick. The central figure has been identified as Mario Minniti, who frequently modeled for Caravaggio. It's speculated that the pair were lovers, lending a lusty, steamy element to the image.

  • 2009 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York...

    2009 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), in Modern Art
    Don't bother searching for figures or meaning in Jackson Pollock's most recognizable work: The chaotic paint splatters on this enormous unprimed canvas are more about the artistic process than the final result. The Abstract Expressionist's "drip" paintings, created using an unorthodox approach (painting the canvas while it lay flat on the floor, rather than propped up on an easel) and materials (sticks, trowels and knives), were a serious departure from the norm when he started making them in 1947.

  • Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bacchante and Infant Faun, in American...

    Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Bacchante and Infant Faun, in American Paintings and Sculpture
    When architect Charles McKim installed this bronze statue---depicting a nude young woman dancing with an infant on her arm---in the inner courtyard of the Boston Public Library in 1896, it was met with public outrage from puritanical Bostonians who decried its "drunken indecency." "She's loose," says Morrison Heckscher, chairman of the American Wing. In May 1897, McKim offered Bacchante to the Met, where it was displayed for many years in the Great Hall. Today it stands in the renovated Charles Engelhard Court, which reopened this past May. "It makes you smile," says Heckscher. "We consider it our little welcome to this area here."

  • Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art Between Earth and Heaven, in Arts of...

    Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Between Earth and Heaven, in Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas
    Artist El Anatsui pays homage to his native Ghana with this undulating work, made to evoke the West African tradition of kente weaving. He substitutes fine silk with colorful base metal, intricately working it so that it looks like woven gold.

  • Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art Figure: Seated Couple, in Arts of...

    Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Figure: Seated Couple, in Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas
    What's notable about this circa 16th- to 19th-century wood-and-metal figure is that the male and female forms are virtually identical. It reflects the Dogon people's belief that gender roles are not only balanced, but fundamentally complementary. Here's to equality!

  • Sphinx of Hatshepsut; Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art Sphinx of...

    Sphinx of Hatshepsut; Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Sphinx of Hatshepsut, in Egyptian Art
    Tear your eyes away from the Temple of Dendur for a second to take in this seven-ton sphinx of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, just to its left. Depicted here with the body of a lion and a human head, it was found smashed to pieces and buried near the burial temple it once flanked. The sphinx used to face the Great Hall, but was moved to its current location next to the temple to provide a better sense of its colossal grandeur.

  • Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art Loggia from Laurelton Hall, Oyster Bay,...

    Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Loggia from Laurelton Hall, Oyster Bay, New York, in American Decorative Arts
    Take the back right stairs in the newly unveiled Charles Engelhard Court to fully appreciate this four-columned loggia. It was created in 1905 by Louis Comfort Tiffany (of Tiffany lamp fame) for the artist's country estate. Everything at Laurelton Hall, as it was called, was designed by Tiffany, including the grounds and the interiors. Sadly, a fire destroyed the house in 1957, with this limestone loggia being one of the few architectural elements salvaged.

  • Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art The dining room from Kirtlington Park,...

    Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    The dining room from Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire, in American Decorative Arts
    William Smith and John Sanderson built this elaborate dining room between 1742 and 1746 for Sir James Dashwood's estate just outside of Oxford. Hubert Maitland Budgett, who later owned the house, eventually sold the room, down to the oak floor, to the Met in 1922 because the family needed the money. Heckscher recalls having lunch in Kirtlington Park, only the carved marble chimneypiece and mahogany doors and shutters that stand in the museum today weren't there: "I can tell you that room is now very plain."

Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art Marble portrait of the emperor...

Image The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Marble portrait of the emperor Caracalla, in Greek and Roman Art
This marble head of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (nicknamed Caracalla) was once part of a full statue. His military-style cropped curls, stubble beard and intense expression give him an intimidating and powerful look. "It's just a world-class example of one of the most fantastic things there," says Leslie Wallick, cofounder of Art Masters Tours (artmasterstours.com).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave (at 82nd St) 212-535-7710


 


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