The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of my favorite places to spend the day — and I still haven’t made it all the way through the museum.
What to see when you only have a few hours – the new African exhibit, the usual favorites, and whatever is leaving by the end of the month…
The pieces in the Kongo: Power and Majesty’ exhibit depict a dark time in the history of what is today known as Congo (DRC), previously known as the Kingdom of Kongo, when the Portuguese colonizers staked their claim. What remains of the last surviving limestone column that trader Diogo Cão hauled with him in 1483 to claim the Kongo for the Portuguese is on display.
Also on display are intricately carved elephant tusks and woven palm-fiber textile panels with abstract geometric designs. They also have prestige caps worn by the elite men, as well as shrine and power figures. Created in the second half of 19th century, these Mangaaka power figures were created as a defensive measure. The feet are raised on platforms, knees slightly bent, white ceramic inserts for eyes – they are meant as an intimidating representation of Kongo leaders.
I have seen a lot of African art, whether in countries in Africa or at museums around the world. Those who believe that Africa does not have its own culture and traditions should visit the Met in New York or the Musée du Louvre in Paris. I digress — It’s a great exhibit worth viewing.
The other exhibit on the must see list today was Discovering Japanese Art – it closes on September 27th. This exhibit is full of interesting pieces including scrolls, floral scenes, textiles, porcelain, statues and even a screened in room.
I wasn’t bowled over by the garden itself on the rooftop of the Met but the view is priceless. Perhaps there would be less people on a weekday and it would be more enjoyable.
Next time – Iran and other Asian art is on the list. This shot is from the Chinese collection.