A short walk from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the new Met Breuer has opened—a testament to the organization’s recent efforts to expand its international contemporary purview. Having taken residence in the 1966 building modernist émigré architect Marcel Breuer originally designed for the Whitney Museum of American Art (which relocated to downtown New York last spring), the Met Breuer’s debut exhibition is titled Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible. It is a thoughtful and carefully curated historical study of incompleteness.
The exhibition, comprised of 197 works dating from the Renaissance to modern day, addresses truncated art, posing the question of what truly comprises a finished work. Many pieces remain as they were when their creators died; or were abandoned after months of work. Resultantly, they are shrouded in compelling, mysterious narrative, such as that of Gustav Klimt’s Frauenbildnis (Ria Munk III), the artist’s third attempt to complete a posthumous portrait of Viennese beauty Ria Munk, commissioned by her family after her suicide at age 24 (Klimt himself died of pneumonia before completing the piece). Others embrace the non finite aesthetic, leaving works intentionally unresolved, a style in which Rembrandt, Turner, and Cézanne, as well as contemporary artists Janine Antoni, Jackson Pollock, and James Hunter, have partaken.
The exhibit encourages visitors to the Upper East Side’s Museum Mile to consider the concept of completeness from a new perspective, and the launch of the Met Breuer itself suggests unprecedented new styles of programming by the historic organization are to be anticipated in seasons to come.
Photos courtesy of the Met Breuer.