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Unfinished Art and Altered States

Thursday Lecture Series, Altered States

dateApril 14, 2016 timeThursday, 12:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • Maggie Cao
The Flaying of Marsyas by Titian, painting of person hung upside down being skinned

Andrea Bayer and Kelly Baum, curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and of the Met Breuer's inaugural exhibition, "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible," speak on a subject critical to artistic practice: the question of when a work of art is finished. They also examine the many ways in which unfinishedness and ideas of 'altered states' coincide.

The New Yorker says of the Met Breuer's inaugural exhibition, "The show is a non-stop sequence of arousals and exhilarations.... Pretty nearly everything on view is exemplary."

More on the exhibition:

Beginning with the Renaissance masters, this scholarly and innovative exhibition examines the term “unfinished” in the broadest possible way, including works left incomplete by their makers, which often give insight into the process of their creation, but also those that partake of a non finito – intentionally unfinished – aesthetic that embraces the unresolved and open-ended. Some of history’s greatest artists explored such an aesthetic, among them Titian, Rembrandt, Turner, and Cézanne. The unfinished has been taken in entirely new directions by modern and contemporary artists, among them Janine Antoni, Lygia Clark, Jackson Pollock, and Robert Rauschenberg, who alternately blurred the distinction between making and un-making, extended the boundaries of art into both space and time, and recruited viewers to complete the objects they had begun.

Comprising over 190 works dating from the Renaissance to the present, about one third of which are drawn from the Museum’s own collection enhanced by major national and international loans, this exhibition demonstrates the Met’s unique capacity to mine its rich collections and scholarly resources to present modern and contemporary art within a deep historical context. The catalogue will expand the subject to include topics such as the “unfinished” in film and literature, and the role of the conservator in elucidating a deeper understanding of artistic thought on the theme of the unfinished.