What does it mean for a piece of art to be “finished”? What does finished art look like? Who decides when art is finished? These are among the thought-provoking questions asked in The Met Breuer’s current exhibition, Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible, on display until September 4, 2016.
Unsurprisingly, much of the art in the exhibition is unfinished. Often, that means that there are blank spaces on the canvas, areas sketched but not painted, or significant differences in how complete some parts of a piece of art looks versus surrounding areas. But not everything looks unfinished to the non-discerning eye, and it is only by reading the card next to each piece of art that the visitor learns that the artists considered some works unfinished.
What complicates the analysis even further is the fact that some artists made deliberate choices to leave parts of their work unfinished, a technique known as non finito. And other pieces were never intended to be finished works of art, instead serving as “sketches” or preliminary studies for a later project.
Here are some of my favorite paintings from the exhibition. Unfinished includes 197 works in all, so this is really just a small sample of what you will see if you visit. I’ve deliberately not noted which category each painting may fall into – see if you can figure it out yourself! (I welcome readers’ thoughts about the paintings in the comment section!)
I was also excited to see this particular work, by Leonardo da Vinci. (As you can see, it was very well-protected, creating quite a challenge to get a good photo without too much reflection.)
The exhibition included more than just paintings – here is one of my favorite sculptural pieces.
The Met Breuer is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of three separate Met Museum campuses. Only open since this past Spring, The Met Breuer primarily supports The Met’s contemporary and modern art programming. The Met Breuer is located at 945 Madison Avenue, at the corner of Madison Avenue and 75th Street on the Upper East Side, in an incredible building designed by architect Marcel Breuer. The building was formerly the home of the Whitney Museum of American Art until that museum recently moved to a new home in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.
If traveling by public transportation to The Met Breuer, you can take the 4 or 6 train to the 77th Street Station. There is also a bus stop for the M1, M2, M3, and M4 buses close by. (The buses travel uptown towards the Bronx, or north, along Madison Avenue. If coming from areas north of The Met Breuer, you take take the same buses traveling south or downtown along Fifth Avenue.)
Note: Unlike the other Met locations, The Met Breuer is not open on Mondays. If you purchase a ticket at any Met Museum location (including The Met Breuer, the Cloisters, and the main museum on Fifth Avenue), you can get into all 3 museums on the same day for one entrance fee! It’s not a far walk from The Met Breuer to The Met, which is located on Fifth Avenue between 80th Street and 84th Street.