The Met Breuer is an interesting museum. When it was opened, the museum wanted to have more of focus in recent contemporary artists. The Metropolitan Museum of Art had been known for emphasis in the classical and ancient arts and its collections of art that covered the centuries. Even though it has a very impressive Contemporary Art Collection in the main building at 1000 Fifth Avenue, it was not one of their stronger collections. The Museum of Modern Art had been known more for that. The opening of the Met Breuer was going to change that by showing more of the permanent collection and traveling shows with cutting edge artists of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century.
I have been to the museum several time for private Member’s Nights and most recently in March 2020 for the Gerhard Richter exhibition “Gerhard Richter: Painting After All” (the exhibition just opened as the New York City closed down for the viral outbreak).
The artist who was born in Germany and raised during the outbreak of World War II began his career as an artist in the 1960’s. He was accepted into the Academy of Arts in the 1950’s and his career has spanned many different mediums and concepts of art as shown in the exhibition.
The abstract works of artist Gerhard Richter
Artist Gerhard Richter in his studio
The Membership was able to walk four of the floors of the artists work and join in discussions with the curators and docents on duty. Each floor that evening was dedicated to a different concept of the artist’s work.
The exhibition has only opened to the membership before the museum shut down due to the virus outbreak.
On the bottom floor basement area of the museum is the restaurant, Florence, named after Florence Whitney, a patron of the museum after which was named after her family. The restaurant which has a very contemporary and expensive menu was packed that night. The restaurant offers nice views of neighborhood street level and has a very nice bar.
On the main floor of the museum is a small gift shop.
The lobby of the Met Breuer
The History of The Met Breuer:
The Met Breuer was the brainchild of philanthropist Leonard Lauder in 2008 when it was announced that the Whitney Museum was moving to a new building downtown. The agreement was signed between the Met and the Whitney for the new museum in 2011.
Gerhard Richter’s work on the third floor of the museum
The Met Breuer opened in March of 2016 in the building that was formerly occupied by the Whitney Museum of American Art. The building was designed by architect Marcel Breuer and completed in 1966. The building was updated by architects Beyer, Blinder Belle in 2014 for the Met.The works of the Met Breuer come from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection and are both monographic and thematic exhibitions.
In 2018, the Met announced that it would be leaving the building in 2020 and that the Frick Collection would be moving in on a temporary basis for the renovation of their building starting in 2020.
(This information was provided by both the Met Breuer History and Wiki)
I recently visited the Japan Society for the ‘Japan Cuts’ film festival 2019 to see four films as part of the festival. I had visited the Society years ago for a ‘Monsters’ exhibition which coincided with the dropping of the Atom Bomb. It was told to me during the tour of the exhibition that the Godzilla movies were the Japanese reaction to the dropping of the bombs and the effects of nuclear was on nature.
The inside lobby of the Japan Society
This time around it was a little more upbeat. I went to see new films by Japanese directors who are looking at contemporary culture a little more differently that film makers of the past. I was most impressed with “Dance with Me”, a light weight musical that reminded me of 1960’s musicals that came out in the United States and “Whole” about Japanese who come from mixed backgrounds and their role in society. It was nice to sit back and watch the films and participate in the Q & A’s.
My favorite scene from “Dance with Me” “Happy Valley”
It was also nice to walk around the building to see the indoor gardens and pools that are located in the lobby area of the building. The building does have a feeling of Ying and Yang. There will be more exhibitions in the Fall.
The inside of the lobby of the Japan Society
The opening film “Dance with Me”
The Q & A at Japan Cuts for “Dance with Me”:
I recently visited the Japan Society for the “Made in Tokyo” exhibition on the development of architecture in the City of Tokyo between the 1962 and the 2020 Olympic Games. The exhibition showed the development and progress of the City since the bombings in WWII and how the City has rethought the building and rebuilding of the City since.
“Made in Tokyo”
Just like in the United States old department stores and office buildings are finding new use and older buildings in fringe and outside rural areas are becoming tech hubs. It was interesting so see how they were reworking old turn of the last century buildings and homes as incubators for the ‘computer age’.
The “Made in Japan” exhibition is closing at the Japan Society on January 26th, 2020. If you like the history of architecture this is an exhibition not to be missed.
The “Made in Tokyo” exhibition at the Japan Society
I recently went to the Japan Society for the screening of the famous movie, “Ringyu” which is the original version of the American film, “The Ring”. It is rarely shown, and you can’t find it on YouTube or in the local libraries, so it was a treat to see this film. It was also the first time I had been in the museum since COVID closed everything down and it was nice to visit again.
Guess what I found on YouTube the next morning: “Ringu”
Still, it was nice to go to the museum again and just relax for the evening.
The Trailer of “Ringu”
The Japan Society mission:
The Japan Society is a non-profit organization formed in 1907 to promote friendly relations between the United States and Japan. Its headquarters, the youngest landmark building in New York was designed by Junzo Yoshimura and opened in 1971 at 333 East 47th Street near the United Nations. With a focus on promoting “arts and culture, public policy, business, language and education,” the organization has regularly held events in its many facilities including a library, art gallery and theater since its opening. After suspending all activities during World War II, Japan Society expanded under the leadership of John D. Rockefeller III (Wiki).
In 1907, Tamemoto Kuroki and Goro Ijuin were chosen to represent Japan at the Jamestown Exposition. They attended a welcome dinner in New York with Japanese ambassador to the United States, Shuzo Aoki, where there was talk of forming an organization to promote US-Japan relations in the city. Two days later at a luncheon held by Kuroki, Japan Society was born. The organization would be run by Aoki, then Honorary President of the Japan Society of the UK and John Huston Findley.
Japan Society spent the next forty years hosting events in honor of Japanese royalty, giving annual lectures on a wide range of topics and presenting art exhibits that drew in thousands of New Yorkers. In 1911, Lindsay Russell, another founding member of the society and later president, met with Emperor Meiji and spent his visit to Japan encouraging more societies to form there and throughout the United States.
Japan Society was soon incorporated under New York law and finally found a home near one of Russell’s work offices, though it continued to relocate throughout its history before its current headquarters was opened in 1971. At this time, Japan Society and its members began to express interest in improving teaching about Japan in the United States. The organization began sponsoring trips to the country, publishing books and sent a report to the Department of Education about the portrayal of Japan in American textbooks.
It remained active during World War I, operating as it had for the last seven years but the organization became more political when it began associating with the Anti-Alien Legislative Committee, an advocacy group that spoke out against yellow peril. Russell and Hamilton Holt, another founding member used the organization’s publication to defend all of Japan’s actions at the time. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, even one of Japan Society’s writers secretly worked for the Japanese government with the task of improving Japan’s imagine in the United States. The organization eventually realized the dangers of taking sides and by 1924 stopped publishing any political commentary.
By the 1930’s, membership had dropped significantly due to financial difficulties and the Second Sino-Japanese War. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Henry Waters Taft immediately resigned as president after serving from 1922 to 1929 and again from 1934. Russell also stepped down as one of Japan Society’s directors. All activities were suspended and would not resume until the Treaty of San Francisco was signed in 1951.
John D. Rockefeller III served as president from 1952 to 1969 and then as Chairman of the Board until his death in 1978. He accompanied John Foster Dulles on his trip to Japan that eventually led to the signing of the 1951 treaty. Rockefeller, a supporter of the Institute of Pacific Relations, who visited Japan in 1929 during one of its conferences, wanted to contribute to bettering US-Japan relations after the war and believed there needed to be non-governmental organizations like Japan Society in each country in order for such friendly relations to exist.
Under Rockefeller’s leadership, Japan Society expanded and talk began to find a permanent headquarters for it. It shared offices with another Rockefeller-led organization, Asia Society but as the two organizations continued to grow during the 1960’s, it became increasingly clear that Japan Society needed its own building. After receiving donations from Rockefeller and other members, construction began on “Japan House” in 1967. Designed by Junzo Yoshimura, whose work also includes Asia Society’s headquarter, it became the first building in New York of contemporary Japanese architecture. On September 13, 1971, it was finally opened to the public after a ceremony attended by Prince Hitachi. He echoed Russell’s first words about Japan Society, calling for “closer people-to-people” contact between countries.
Japan Society building
(This information was taken from Wiki and I give them full credit for the information. I also included information of Japan Society).
I made my first visit to the Museum of Sex in New York City and highly recommend it. I have to admit it is different but what I like about the museum is that it doesn’t try to hide the subject and it also just doesn’t jump out at you. It is an interesting progression in art and I saw this in the exhibition “The History of Pornography”, where the films were set up in order since the Victorian times. Sometimes it had to go underground due the times but pornography has been around since the days of the media.
The exhibition shows early pictures and viascopes of sexual acts and the early films date back to the Silent era. The exhibition covers from the Silent era to present times and the advancement of sex in films once the Hayes Code was broken in the 1960’s. With the relaxed rules and the mainstream films of “Tie Me Up Tie Me Down” and “Deep Throat”, you can see the progression of this as an art form and progression of the way the films were made.
Another great exhibition that I saw was “Punk Lust: Raw Provocation 1971-1985”. This show matches nicely with the current show on the “Punk Movement” at the Museum of Arts & Design. It was interesting to see the posters, flyers, clothes and hear the music of the era. Just at the height of the ‘Sexual Revolution’ and into the fragments of the Disco era came a new sound and way to dress that started in the early 80’s before the progression of the Reagan years in Washington DC, this movement came with a new sound with Punk, New Wave and Technographic and a new way to dress provocative without being too revealing.
“Punk Lust” exhibition
As the museum was quoted saying: “The survey looking at the way Punk Culture used the language of sexuality, both visually and lyrically, to transgress and defy, whether in the service of political provocation, raw desire or just to break through the stifling gender norms and social expectations that punks refused to let define them.”
“Punk Lust” exhibition
History of the Museum of Sex:
(This comes from the Museum of Sex History Website)
The Mission of the Museum of Sex is to preserve and present the history, evolution and culture significance of human sexuality. The museum produces exhibitions, publications and programs that bring the best of current scholarship to the wildest possible audiences and is committed to encouraging public enlightenment, discourse and engagement.
The Museum of Sex
When the Museum of Sex first emerged on New York City’s Fifth Avenue on October 5th, 2002, it was without precedent in the museum world. In the development of its inaugural award winning exhibition NYCSEX: How New York Transformed Sex in America, the Museum created a board of comprised of leading scholars and historians. The Museum’s advisory board has guided curators and guest curators towards research resources, pertinent collections and exhibition relevant artists. Advisors such as Steven Heller, Timothy J. Gilfoyle, PhD, Mike Wallace PhD and June Reinisch, Director Emeritus for The Kinsey Institute for Research on Sex, Gender and Reproduction as well as institutional collaborations with New York University’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, New York Historical Society and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum have contributed to making the Museum of Sex one of the most dynamic and innovative institutions in the world.
Design has played a pivotal role in both exhibition development and execution with world-renowned design firms such as Pentagram Design Inc, Casson Mannand 2×4, helping to transform the galleries and historic building over the last six years. The museum’s building, built in the area of New York formerly known as the “Tenderloin,” a district of NYC made notorious by the 19th century for its bordellos, dance halls, theaters and saloons, serves as a New York City landmarked site.
Since its inception, the Museum of Sex has generated over 30 exhibitions and 6 virtual installments, each in keeping with the Museum’s mission of advocating open discourse surrounding sex and sexuality as well as striving to present to the public the best in current scholarship, unhindered by self-censorship. With each new exhibition, lecture series, event and publication, the Museum of Sex is committed to addressing a wide range of topics, while simultaneously highlighting material and artifacts from different continents, cultures, time periods and media.
The Museum’s permanent collection of over 20,000 artifacts is comprised of works of art, photography, clothing and costumes, technological inventions and historical ephemera. Additionally, the museum houses both a research library as well as an extensive multimedia library, which includes 8mm, Super 8mm, 16mm, BETA, VHS and DVD’s. From fine art to historical ephemera to film, the Museum of Sex preserves an ever-growing collection of sexually related objects that would otherwise be destroyed and discarded due to their sexual content.
In a short time, the Museum has received attention from academic institutions, major publications, media outlets and celebrities, positioning the Museum of Sex within the realm of academia and pop culture alike. The Museum has been featured in numerous publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker, Esquire and Time and on television broadcasts ranging from CNN to IFC to NBC’s Law & Order Criminal Intent. Award-winning advertising campaigns in print and television media have sealed the Museum’s arrival as a cultural touchstone.
Accolades continue to pour in from visitors and the press in every corner of the world, inspiring the Museum of Sex to continually surpass its own high expectations. Future planned exhibitions and events-the likes of which have never been offered by any other institution-are guaranteed to captivate and resonate, securing the Museum of Sex a well-deserved, distinguished place in history (Museum of Sex History)
I recently visited the Museum of Arts & Design for the “Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics 1976-1986” exhibition on the rise of Punk and New Wave music that came onto to the radar during the end of the Vietnam War to the Second Reagan Administration. I remember how the music was changing from folk and funk to the beginnings of ‘Underground’ music and then the rise of the Disco era.
The posters of ‘Punk Graphics’
The exhibition displayed all the posters and flyers from the clubs like the Mudd Club, CBGB’s, Max’s Kansas City and Danceteria when they were in their heyday. Groups that were included in the exhibition were such known names as DEVO, The Talking Heads, Blondie, Richard Hell and The B52’s. This was at a time of collages and photocopying so the posters and flyers could be rudimentary but made their point. It got people into the door.
It was also a time that graffiti artists could show their work off and integrated themselves into the music scene. So it is a nice combination of music, video and pictures. Take time out to listen to the songs and really look at the pictures at the music leaders at the time. It really does capture a moment in history.
I also got to see the Roger Brown exhibition of paintings and ceramic work which bought to light the artists paintings along with items that he found over the years to match with his work. It was different.
The latest exhibition running through the holidays and into the new year of 2020 is the Anna Sui, the American designer, exhibition with a retrospect of her work over the last twenty years.
Designer Anna Sui at the opening of the exhibition of her work
Ms. Sui’s works can be labelled as Grunge, Surfer, Street Wise and Classic. The exhibition covers her clothing line, jewelry and accessories and extensive cosmetic line. When I was taking the walking tour of the exhibition, the docent said that she was involved in every aspects of her business as well as the runway shows. It was a unique display of her work over her career.
History of the Museum of Arts & Design:
The museum first opened its doors in 1956 as the Museum of Contemporary Crafts whose original mission of recognizing the craftsmanship of contemporary artists. Nurtured by the vision of philanthropist and craft patron, Aileen Osborn Webb, the museum mounted exhibitions that focused on the materials and techniques associated with craft disciplines. From the earliest years, the Museum celebrated the changing roles of craftsmanship in society, served as an important advocate for emerging artists and linked art to industry (Wiki).
From 1963 to 1987, under the directorship of Paul J. Smith, the Museum presented dynamic and often participatory exhibitions that reflected the social currents of the era and broke down hierarchies in the arts with the celebration of popular culture and mundane materials. In 1979, the Museum reopened as the American Craft Museum in an expanded location at 44 West 53rd Street. To accommodate its ever-growing programming, the Museum relocated again in 1986 to its 18,000 square foot home at 40 West 53rd Street, where it remained until 2008 (Wiki).
The next ten years were a period of rapid growth and change as the American Craft Council was restructured and the Museum and the Council were established as independent organizations. Holly Hotchner was appointed as director of the Museum in 1996 and served as director for 16 years until 2013. Hotchner initiated a comprehensive strategic planning process that expanded the Board of Trustees, curatorial staff and exhibition and educational program. This process led to the Museum’s name change in 2002 to the Museum of Arts & Design to reflect the institution’s increasingly interdisciplinary collections and programming. The continued growth of MAD’s collections, public programs and attendance resulted in its successful 2002 bid to the New York Economic Development Corporation to acquire the building at 2 Columbus Circle (Wiki).
The Museum opened in its new home at 2 Columbus Circle to great controversy. The purposed changes to the building originally designed by Edward Durrell Stone sparked a preservation debate by many artists. The new building was designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture in September 2008. With its facade of glazed terra-cotta tile and fritted glass, the Jerome and Simona Chazen Building reflects MAD’s craft heritage and permanent collection and animates Columbus Circle (Wiki).