Sunday, February 16, 2014

Weekly Article Review by Lorena Pfaender

Title: Remastering the Old Masters
Author: Hilarie M. Sheets
Source: ARTnews
Scholarships, collecting and our views of the past are constantly being revised and our notions are constantly being questioned. Museums have undergone a transition from the traditional style to the emerging style to keep the public intrigued. This transition includes new aspects such as public outreach and an urge for active participation, however also requires a well thought out layout for the exhibitions. The task of having different styles from different time periods being grouped together to spark the ultimate amount of curiosity in the public has become crucial. Curator Keith Christiansen succeeded in giving the Met’s European paintings galleries a fresh new look and the new organization of the Old Masters has been praised for its coherence and revelations.
Many Old Masters in Europe are exhibited in museums carrying their own names such as the Rembrandt Museum in Amsterdam, Rubens Museum in Antwerp, Goya Museum in Madrid, or are under one roof like at the "Alte Pinakothek" in Munich or the "Art Galerie Old Masters" in Dresden. The work of Old Masters in the United States is usually spread over many different museums and usually have to be borrowed from a number of private art collections and museums for exhibition, such as the Rembrandt Exhibition in 2011/2012, that was hosted by the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Curator Keith Christiansen managed to expand the permanent Collection of Old Masters at the Met from 450 to nearly 700 artworks, which can be viewed in 17 galleries continuously throughout the year. The arrangement of the exhibit gives the public a better understanding of the artist’s life and work as a whole. It has become a space, where one can go to receive a deeper understanding of the particular artists and of the art period and because it is a permanent exhibition one can always go back.
So by which means of displaying these Old Masters does one truly engage the public? 


  1. I was at The Met in August of 2008 and I don't remember that I thought much about the organization of the galleries. I do remember being overwhelmed by the amount of art that was collected in one place and being grateful to all the museums in New York that I had the chance to visit. There are so many museums, worldwide, that have so many wonderful collections but the thought of trying to categorize each of the "Old Masters" into one collection of each seems unfeasible! I appreciate the amount of work that curator Keith Christiansen had to do to reorganize his exibits into his larger acquired space but I also envy him the FUN of it! Imagine having so much artwork of "Old Masters" that you have to figure out what to put in each of 17 galleries! Museums constantly arrange and rearrange exhibits and I would LOVE to be a part of deciding how the public would like to view all these magnificent masterpieces!

  2. Perhaps I'll have to come back and try to read this article again when I'm more awake, but it doesn't seem to be getting anywhere all that different than before, considering the statement that "In the end, they fell back on the most traditional—by region and chronology rather than theme". So, tell me why Christensen's career history is so prominent in this article? Is it a brief bio or interview of sorts on what he has been working on lately? Or is this article really supposed to be about the title, Remastering the Old Masters? The topic of this should be clearer, in my opinion.
    But in response to Lorena's concluding question, it would seem the best option to arrange the works of the old masters with the works of other artists that were experiencing the same time period and events, rather than in the themes that the curator would force on their viewers that would in fact be potentially more interesting.
    Overall, this article appeared to be wanting to blurt out that this Curator has been playing smart with money, and managed to nearly double the amount of works to be viewed, and in new gallery spaces too. Comes off as an advertisement, practically.

    Sorry if this post comes off a little rude and/or harsh, I am a little snappy due to sleepiness!

  3. I think that Keith Christenson did a good thing by rearranging the museum. Museum's can get boring at some times if you've been walking around looking at paintings all day. One can loose focus, Christenson kept the public in engaged with the way that he set up the 17 exhibits. He was creating something new and exciting from the old. Curators have such a demanding job. They have to watch of the art and keep it safe, talk to the public and explain pieces to the public, and they have to keep the public entertained with the arrangement of art. They try to keep the guests always thinking. Challenging the public to think differently and deeply about the piece. I think that the curator doesn't want to arrange the piece so that they are forced to think the same was as the curator, they want to arrange the piece so that each person is able to relate to the piece through making collections with their own life and experiences. Being a curator can be very fun at times and at the same time it can be really challenging. Always do what you love.

  4. I agree with Stephanie that this article did seem to be one massive advertisement for the Met and Keith Christenson, but I also think that the museum deserves the advertisement. The Met is massive, with a wide range of art. With only seeing their website, I feel that the curators have done a wonderful job of providing a diverse and educational collection. Christenson has arranged the Old Masters in a manner that puts them in the context of the time period. An element that I really enjoyed while visiting museums in Italy was walking into rooms of a specific artist. Seeing the individual progression of style and subject matter through the years is inspiring to me. In a way Christenson has also done this with the works by Vermeer and other European Masters.