Touring the Frick Madison, New York’s latest cultural landmark

Touring the Frick Madison, New York’s latest cultural landmark


For the final 100 years, getting into the exquisitely preserved rooms of the Frick Assortment’s mansion on New York’s Fifth Avenue was like getting into a gilded time capsule. It was each the draw of the museum, which is basically unchanged because it opened in 1935, and a flaw: Taken , lots of the spectacular bronzes, delicate Sèvres porcelain, and even masterpieces by Goya and Rembrandt drifted uncomfortably near ornament, the gathering’s many superlative components subsumed into a bigger, luxurious complete.

“That’s the purpose of a home [museum],” says the Frick’s deputy director and chief curator Xavier Salomon. “It’s fantastic in a method, after which in different methods it’s a constraint.”

For the subsequent two years, although, that constraint has been lifted whereas the mansion is expanded. Throughout that point, the gathering has moved a couple of blocks away into the previous Whitney Museum of American Artwork’s constructing on Madison Avenue and seventy fifth St. (When the Whitney moved downtown it leased the area to the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork, which dubbed it the Met Breuer; the Met then broke its lease early on account of funds constraints.)

Whereas the Frick usually reveals 470 objects, within the new area, dubbed the Frick Madison, simply 300 will probably be on view. And in distinction to the Frick’s plush interiors, the partitions of its non permanent dwelling have simply 4 shades of grey. Gone, in different phrases, are any distractions from the artwork.

The result’s staggering. “What I hope is that individuals who know the museum nicely at One East seventieth Avenue will come right here and rediscover issues,” Salomon says. “They’ll understand that they’ve by no means checked out issues correctly; they’ll actually see them beneath a brand new mild, in very totally different juxtapositions.”

The gathering will open to the general public on March 18; advance reservations are required. The Frick Madison’s exhibition area covers all three of the flooring of the constructing.

“On every flooring, you at all times begin by encountering a three-dimensional object,” Salomon says. He initially needed the pedestals to be concrete, “which is definitely not possible to do due to their weight and a variety of different issues.” As a substitute, “these are stuccoed to appear like concrete,” he reveals.

The Frick Madison is designed as a one-way tour by way of the gathering (guests transfer counterclockwise), versus a extra free-flowing area the place folks can wander ahead and again. Consequently, the Frick curatorial workers paid shut consideration to transitions from room to room, fastidiously staging each view. Annabelle Selldorf, the architect who designed the Frick mansion’s growth, consulted with curators on the usage of area.

“For those who go backwards,” Salomon says, “you’re going to come across a whole lot of clean partitions.” The flooring are damaged up by chronology and creative college. “Which is probably the most boring approach, in a approach,” Salomon says. “That’s what most museums do, however we had by no means accomplished it. By doing that, you possibly can truly get a way of what the strengths of the gathering are.”

The Holbeins are in a room on the second flooring with early Netherlandish artwork; subsequent is a room of Dutch artwork, which ends up in Rembrandt. The photographs within the all-Rembrandt room are often, Salomon says, “all collectively within the [Frick mansion’s] West Gallery. You see them with a whole lot of different issues, however the potential of seeing them individually, specializing in every one in all them, is one thing that’s by no means actually occurred earlier than,” he says. “That’s massively thrilling.” 

“We went barely backwards,” says Salomon of that technique. “Normally, you could have a constructing, after which you must put artwork within the rooms. However right here, we created the rooms across the teams of work we needed to show in every area.” 

Guests will be aware the entire absence of wall textual content and labels within the galleries. The identify of the artist is on the body. For another context, guests might want to consult with the audio information or the customer booklet. 

Likewise, there aren’t any stanchions or limitations and solely a handful of vitrines, which means guests can get inside a hairsbreadth of the priceless objects on view.

Requested if organizers had been apprehensive about guests getting too shut, Salomon notes that “we’ve got very fierce guards.”

 The Bellini is in a room by itself, for instance, in a chapellike setting, Salomon says. “The Bellini is the best murals within the assortment, and we needed this one [to be] by itself, with nothing else.” Beforehand, the portray hung behind furnishings; now, guests can admire it with none visible interruption.

“Bronzes are everywhere in the Frick,” says Salomon. “On each shelf, on each desk, which makes them completely invisible, principally. So what we determined to do is power folks to have a look at bronzes, so you could have a room the place it’s simply the fabric of bronze.” A lot of the works are Italian, however there are a couple of Northern European objects as nicely.

“There are moments which might be actually by likelihood, however which I actually like,” says Salomon. “You’ve got Goya’s Forge with the metalworkers, and then you definately see the bronzes” on the periphery. (The Forge, c. 1815-1820 is on the best within the forefront.)

All 9 Spanish work acquired by Frick in his lifetime are on view. “The fourth flooring is devoted to France and Britain,” Salomon says. Why? It has double-height ceilings. “Most of our French and British photos are a lot taller than the others.”

Within the Frick, the porcelain often is ready on prime of furnishings; within the Madison Avenue constructing, although, curators felt that that will be too houselike, in order that they set the porcelain on floating shows as a substitute.

This vase, which known as the vase japon however has nothing to do with Japan, relies on a guide of woodcuts from the Chinese language imperial assortment gifted to the Sèvres manufactory by the emperor of China. One vase was despatched to the emperor as a present, two had been bought by the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and the final is owned by the Frick.

The gold chains, Salomon says, had been made by the goldsmith who, on the time, was making jewellery for Marie Antoinette.

Initially, Salomon says, his colleagues resisted a minimalist hold. However after a visit to Donald Judd’s Chinati Basis in Marfa, Texas, the place they may see the great thing about a single object in a large room, “all of them got here again completely transformed. It type of received up to now the place I used to be like, ‘We now have 10 issues? Let’s make it 5. Let’s make it two. We began slashing all the things.” 

In a single significantly intimate room, 4 full-length portraits by the American-born, British painter James McNeill Whistler encompass the viewer.

“I believe we’ve used this line many instances earlier than, and it’s supercheesy, nevertheless it’s true,” says Salomon. “It’s a assortment of masterpieces, so we are able to actually afford to have a whole lot of works individually on partitions, as a result of they maintain these partitions so nicely.”

“So Fragonard does these 4 work for Madame du Barry [the last mistress of Louis XV] within the 1770s,” explains Salomon. “They’re put in in her pavilion outdoors of Paris, and she or he hates them. They get rejected, she sends them again to Fragonard, after which he retains them in his studio for 20 years.”

Whereas these panels within the Frick’s regular Fragonard room are “put within the flawed order,” Salomon says, organizers created a room that’s roughly the identical dimension as the unique pavilion—the window within the Madison Avenue constructing is in roughly the identical place as an authentic window—and organized them within the appropriate order right here.

“You may get very near it” now, Salomon says. “The flowers are unbelievable, the best way they’re painted.”

“This can be a place the place you possibly can come and simply do one flooring, if you would like,” says Salomon. “You’ll be able to focus simply on French artwork, after which come again one other day for Italian artwork or no matter.”

“That form of contemplative expertise with the artistic endeavors was one thing that did occur on the home,” he continues, “however I believe right here occurs otherwise.”

This story has been printed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content.



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