The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a dynamic, intriguing exhibit (through June 3, 2007) titled “Barcelona and Modernity: Gaudí to Dalí,” which the Met bills as “the first comprehensive exhibition of its type ever mounted in America.” It offers an opportunity to examine what Barcelona’s artists, architects and designers accomplished between the pivotal Barcelona Universal Exposition of 1888 and 1939, when the Franco regime was in power. There are some 300 works in the show.
One can trace the art of Picasso, Miró, Dalí and Gaudí There is one section dealing with art pertaining to the Civil War in Spain, with some poster work included. The exhibit provides an occasion for examining the growth of Barcelona’s influence on the art of Spain and elsewhere, as well as an emotional pull in being able to see the change brought about by Spain’s descent into fascism.
Another exhibition at the Metropolitan through July 8, 2007, “Venice and the Islamic World, 828-1797,” has the effect of showing contributions made by Islamic art as a sort of counterpoint to the bad rap Islam has been getting as a result of contemporary political turmoil. One sees the relationship between Venice and Islamic lands through the commercial and cultural interchange that prevailed in the time period covered.
Frankly, the more interesting aspects are various examples of exquisite glass work, and impressive rugs. The objects hold more interest than the paintings, with some exceptions. There is considerable beauty to some of what’s on display to suggest the appreciation for luxury.
A lighter but also attention-getting show is installed (through May 9, 2007) at the Library of Performing Arts in Lincoln Center. It is called “Stars and Treasures,” and covers the history of theater with photographs, posters and other memorabilia. One of my favorites is a poster protesting the rise of ticket prices when Convent Garden in London was reopened after a fire early in the 19th century. It was a call to arms urging that the public demand a rollback of the increase. A notation says that Covent Garden retreated and scaled back to the old amounts.
Nothing much has changed in griping about theater ticket costs, except that there are no mass protests today. Can a lesson be taken from the past?