Metropolitan Museum of Art Launches The Met Breuer in March 2016 Expanding Modern and Contemporary Art Program

unnamed-1Whitney Museum, Location: New York NY, Architect: Marcel Breuer © Ezra Stoller / Esto

Iconic Marcel Breuer-Designed Building to be Revitalized


In March 2016, The Metropolitan Museum of Art will launch its first season of programming at The Met Breuer, inviting visitors to engage with art of the 20th and 21st centuries through the global breadth and historical reach of the Museum’s unparalleled collection and scholarly resources. At the same time, the Met will reveal a restored architectural icon, invigorated by renovations that will support a fluid, integrated experience of art and architecture.

“The Met is proud to become the steward of this iconic building and to preserve Marcel Breuer’s bold vision,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Our approach to inhabiting and interpreting the building honors Breuer’s intent for the space, highlighting its unique character as an environment for the presentation of modern and contemporary art. The wonderfully scaled galleries and interior spaces of The Met Breuer provide a range of opportunities to present our modern and contemporary program, in addition to our galleries in the Fifth Avenue building.”

unnamedMarcel Breuer © Ezra Stoller / Esto; Marcel Breuer portrait at Whitney © Ezra Stoller / Esto

“It is a privilege to program Breuer’s masterfully conceived spaces and consider new ways for audiences to experience the interplay between art and architecture within this incomparable setting,” said Sheena Wagstaff, the Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of the Met’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. “With the opening of The Met Breuer, we are honoring the history of this beloved modernist building and embracing its significance to the cultural landscape of our city as we infuse it with a different curatorial spirit.”

The Met’s approach to animating the building honors Breuer’s vision to integrate art throughout the museum. The installation of the inaugural program will span from the lobby gallery to the fourth floor, in an exhibition plan that echoes the unique architecture of the space and creates zones for reflection throughout. The lobby will be activated by Artist in Residence Vijay Iyer’s performance installation facilitating an immediate engagement with art as visitors enter the building.

The building will offer free entry throughout the lobby level, including the lobby gallery, and to the lower level, which will feature a dining facility, and entry to the sunken garden. Admissions will be streamlined and the lobby level store will be returned to the curated catalogue selection—or “book bar”—that Breuer originally intended for the space and that the Whitney also used to display art books.

In addition, the Met has begun restoring the building with the guidance of architects Beyer Blinder Belle—including its signature concrete walls, stone floors, bronze fixtures, and lighting. The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Met have collaborated on upgrading the building’s infrastructure systems in preparation for its reopening in 2016. Special consideration is being given to preserving the aesthetic of weathered areas to respect the patina of history within the space. More information about the history of the Breuer building is available on the Met’s website.

The Met will develop and present programming at The Met Breuer for a period of eight years, following a collaborative agreement between the Met and the Whitney, which occupied the building from 1966 to 2014 and retains ownership of it. The Whitney opened the doors to its new home at 99 Gansevoort Street, in downtown Manhattan, in May.


Modern and Contemporary Art at the Met and The Met Breuer

The Met Breuer’s program will spotlight modern and contemporary art in dialogue with historic works that embrace the full range and reach of the Museum’s collection. The building will host both monographic and thematic exhibitions, as well as new commissions, and performances. The inaugural season of The Met Breuer features a major cross-departmental curatorial initiative to present a historic examination of unfinished works of art; the largest exhibition to date dedicated to Indian modernist Nasreen Mohamedi; and a month-long performance installation, by Artist in Residence Vijay Iyer. Upcoming exhibitions include a presentation of Diane Arbus’s rarely seen early photographic works (July 11-November 27, 2016), and the first museum retrospective dedicated to Kerry James Marshall (October 25, 2016-January 22, 2017).

Current modern and contemporary art programs at the Met’s Fifth Avenue location include an installation by French conceptual artist Pierre Huyghe on the Met’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden (through November 1, weather permitting), Wolfgang Tillmans: Book for Architects (through November 1), and a multimedia installation by Philippe Parreno (through 2015). Modern and contemporary art activities will continue in the Museum’s Fifth Avenue location, as the conceptual plan is developed for the eventual redesign and rebuilding of the Southwest Wing by David Chipperfield Architects.

More information on the Met’s modern and contemporary art program is available online.

The Roof Garden Commission: Pierre Huyghe is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Additional support is provided by Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky. The catalogue is made possible by the Mary and Louis S. Myers Foundation Endowment Fund. Wolfgang Tillmans: Book for Architects is made possible by The Modern Circle.


Previously Announced Programming at The Met Breuer


Spring 2016 Exhibitions


Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible

March–September 4, 2016
Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible examines a subject critical to artistic practice: the question of when a work of art is finished. Beginning with the Renaissance masters, this scholarly exhibition considers the impact of significant works of art that were left incomplete by their makers, but have been preserved and appreciated until today. Just as important, it examines finished works that make a feature of a non finito aesthetic that allowed for the incomplete, the open-ended, and the unresolved. Some of history’s greatest artists explored such an aesthetic, among them Titian, Rembrandt, Turner, Cézanne, Picasso, Louise Bourgeois, Marlene Dumas, Lucian Freud, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Luc Tuymans, and Cy Twombly all of whom are represented in this exhibition.

Comprising 140 works dating from the Renaissance to the present, and predominantly drawn from the Museum’s own collection, enhanced by major national and international loans, this exhibition demonstrates the Met’s unique capacity to mine its rich collection and scholarly resources to present modern and contemporary art within a deep historical context. The exhibition catalogue will explore the subject of the ‘unfinished’ in literature and film, and the role of the conservator in elucidating a deeper understanding of artistic practice through unfinished works of art.

The exhibition is co-curated at the Met by: Andrea Bayer, the Jayne Wrightsman Curator in the Department of European Paintings, Kelly Baum, Curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Nicholas Cullinan, former Curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, under the direction of Sheena Wagstaff.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication that incorporates both scholarly texts and interviews with contemporary artists. It will be published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press.

The catalogue is made possible by the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Inc. and the Roswell L. Gilpatric Publications Fund.


Nasreen Mohamedi

March–June 5, 2016
A singular artist to emerge in post-Independence India, Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-90) created a body of work vital to the evolution of international modernism and abstraction. The Met Breuer exhibition marks the largest presentation of Mohamedi’s work to date and explores the conceptual complexity and visual subtlety that made her practice unique in its time.

Mohamedi drew upon a range of inspirations in her work, from Paul Klee and Agnes Martin, to Mughal architecture and Indian classical music. She experimented with organic lines, delicate grids, and hard-edged forms in her oeuvre, and this aesthetic informed and infused the photographs she took throughout her life. With more than 130 paintings, drawings, and photographs, the exhibition surveys the different stages of Mohamedi’s career and the development of her aesthetic approach, which made her one of the most significant artists of her generation.

The exhibition is curated by Roobina Karode, Director of the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, with Sheena Wagstaff at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Manuel J. Borja-Villel, Director of the Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid. The exhibition is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, with the collaboration of the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi. It will be accompanied by a substantial catalogue with essays by international scholars, published by the Museo Reina Sofía.


Spring 2016 Performance


Artist in Residence Vijay Iyer

The Met’s 2015–16 Artist in Residence, Vijay Iyer, will occupy The Met Breuer’s Lobby Gallery in March, inhabiting the gallery creatively and bringing his encyclopedic breadth of artistic practice to a residency, redefined. Iyer will highlight his full body of work with performances, continuously, throughout Museum hours. He will perform solo, with other musicians, dancers, and poets, and will also curate performances by fellow musicians and performers. Additionally Iyer will create sound installations specifically for the space, resulting in full-day performance experiences. Throughout the spring season, Iyer will collaborate with performance artists including Wadada Leo Smith, Kyle Abraham, Miranda Cuckson, Okkyung Lee, Michelle Boulé, Tyshawn Sorey, and Jen Shyu.

Vijay Iyer has also been commissioned by the Met to create a new piece specifically to resonate with and accompany the Nasreen Mohamedi exhibition. This work will be presented in The Met Breuer’s second-floor gallery. Program details will be announced at a later date.


Soundwalk 9:09 by John Luther Adams

Launch date: March 2016
Commissioned in celebration of the launch of The Met Breuer, the aptly titled Soundwalk 9:09 by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams is nine minutes and nine seconds in duration, the time it takes to walk between the Met’s building at Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street, and The Met Breuer at Madison Avenue and 75th Street. It will include sounds recorded by the composer as well as around 100 more selected by him from submissions online, offering listeners a unique sonic experience. The final composition will be offered online and as a downloadable podcast at www.metmuseum.org/MetBreuer and at Q2 Music’s website (www.wqxr.org/#!/series/q2).


Klang by Karlheinz Stockhausen

U.S. Premiere
March 26, 2016
Karlheinz Stockhausen’s fiercely original Klang (meaning “sound” in German) is an acoustic and electronic work so massive that it requires all day and all three of the Met’s iconic buildings to stage. This 21-part, unfinished composition was originally envisioned by Stockhausen as consisting of 24 individual compositions (one for each hour of the day), but the work was left unfinished at the time of his death. This performance will mark the U.S. premiere of Klang in its entirety, and will be performed at the Metropolitan Museum’s Fifth Avenue building, The Met Breuer, and The Cloisters museum and gardens. More details will follow.


unnamedThe Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world’s leading art museums, with a collection spanning more than 5,000 years of world culture, from prehistory to the present. It presents dozens of exhibitions each year, and thousands of events and programs including films, talks, performance, guided tours, and family programs. A center for art appreciation, scholarship, research, and conservation, the Met also maintains a vibrant program of publishing scholarly and popular catalogues, and utilizes new technologies to enhance the visitor experience and extend the reach and accessibility of its offerings globally.

In addition to its location at Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street, the Met is launching its modern and contemporary art-themed programming at The Met Breuer in spring 2016, and continues to present exhibitions as well as works from the Met’s collection of medieval art and architecture at The Cloisters museum and gardens, its branch in upper Manhattan.

The Met Breuer is featured on the Museum’s website at www.metmuseum.org/MetBreuer.