Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Met is swamped with viewers for the Alexander McQueen show. The roped-in waiting line runs along the main corridor of the 19th Century painting galleries, which because it's filled now with people waiting more than looking, is as loud as the main hall of the building.

Here's the crossover marketing in action.

I won't repeat my argument. The show isn't very interesting and the installation's vulgar, but that's not to diminish its significance or the significance of the public response.

At the same time, the Frick has rehung Giovanni Bellini's St. Francis in the Desert, after sending it to the Met for analysis, in a temporary installation in the Oval Room. The Bellini, "is a masterpiece of spiritual poetry that has enthralled generations of visitors to The Frick Collection," but the curators, in a move as perverse as anything in the McQueen show, have added two more Van Dyck's to the others that usually flank the central staging area, surrounding and dwarfing St Francis with what are now Baroque giants, almost pagan gods, depicted in monuments to earthly luxury and pomp.


It's a great room and for the same reasons the public are lining up a few blocks away at the Met. The themes are identical, but handled here on a much higher level by curators of or near the same generation as McQueen and the designers of his retrospective.

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