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

For the final 100 years, moving into the exquisitely preserved rooms of the Frick Collection’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 essentially unchanged because it opened in 1935, and a flaw: Taken unexpectedly, lots of the spectacular bronzes, delicate Sèvres porcelain, and even masterpieces by Goya and Rembrandt drifted uncomfortably near ornament, the assortment’s many superlative components subsumed into a bigger, luxurious entire.

“That’s the point of a house [museum],” says the Frick’s deputy director and chief curator Xavier Salomon. “It’s wonderful in one way, and then in other ways it’s a constraint.”

For the subsequent two years, although, that constraint has been lifted whereas the mansion is expanded. During that point, the assortment has moved a number of blocks away into the former Whitney Museum of American Art’s constructing on Madison Avenue and seventy fifth St. (When the Whitney moved downtown it leased the area to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which dubbed it the Met Breuer; the Met then broke its lease early because of price range constraints.)



Whereas the Frick usually displays 470 objects, in the new area, dubbed the Frick Madison, simply 300 shall be on view. And in distinction to the Frick’s plush interiors, the partitions of its short-term residence 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 people who know the museum well at One East 70th Street will come here and rediscover things,” Salomon says. “They will realize that they’ve never looked at things properly; they will literally see them under a new light, in very different juxtapositions.”

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

“On each floor, you always start by encountering a three-dimensional object,” Salomon says. He initially needed the pedestals to be concrete, “which is actually impossible to do because of their weight and a number of other things.” Instead, “these are stuccoed to look like concrete,” he reveals.

The Frick Madison is designed as a one-way tour by means of the assortment (guests transfer counterclockwise), versus a extra free-flowing area the place folks can wander ahead and again. As a consequence, 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 use of area.

“If you go backwards,” Salomon says, “you’re going to encounter a lot of blank walls.” The flooring are damaged up by chronology and creative college. “Which is the most boring way, in a way,” Salomon says. “That’s what most museums do, but we had never done it. By doing that, you can actually get a sense of what the strengths of the collection 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 photos in the all-Rembrandt room are normally, Salomon says, “all together in the [Frick mansion’s] West Gallery. You see them with a lot of other things, but the possibility of seeing them individually, focusing on each one of them, is something that’s never really happened before,” he says. “That is hugely exciting.” 

“We went slightly backwards,” says Salomon of that technique. “Usually, you have a building, and then you have to put art in the rooms. But here, we created the rooms around the groups of paintings we wanted to display in each space.” 

Visitors will notice the full absence of wall textual content and labels in the galleries. The title of the artist is on the body. For some other context, guests might want to discuss with the audio information or the customer booklet. 

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

Asked if organizers had been fearful about guests getting too shut, Salomon notes that “we have very fierce guards.”

 The Bellini is in a room by itself, for instance, in a chapellike setting, Salomon says. “The Bellini is the greatest work of art in the collection, and we wanted this one [to be] by itself, with nothing else.” Previously, the portray hung behind furnishings; now, guests can admire it with none visible interruption.

“Bronzes are all over the Frick,” says Salomon. “On every shelf, on every table, which makes them totally invisible, basically. So what we decided to do is force people to look at bronzes, so you have a room where it’s just the material of bronze.” Most of the works are Italian, however there are a number of Northern European objects as properly.

“There are moments that are really by chance, but which I really like,” says Salomon. “You have Goya’s Forge with the metalworkers, and then you see the bronzes” on the periphery. (The Forge, c. 1815-1820 is on the proper in the forefront.)

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

In the Frick, the porcelain normally is about on prime of furnishings; in the Madison Avenue constructing, although, curators felt that that might be too houselike, so that they set the porcelain on floating shows as an alternative.

This vase, which known as the vase japon however has nothing to do with Japan, is predicated on a e book of woodcuts from the Chinese 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, at the time, was making jewellery for Marie Antoinette.

Initially, Salomon says, his colleagues resisted a minimalist hold. But after a visit to Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, the place they may see the fantastic thing about a single object in an enormous room, “they all came back totally converted. It kind of got to this point where I was like, ‘We have 10 things? Let’s make it five. Let’s make it two. We started slashing everything.” 

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

“I think we’ve used this line many times before, and it’s supercheesy, but it’s true,” says Salomon. “It is a collection of masterpieces, so we can really afford to have a lot of works individually on walls, because they hold those walls so well.”

“So Fragonard does these four paintings for Madame du Barry [the last mistress of Louis XV] in the 1770s,” explains Salomon. “They’re installed in her pavilion outside of Paris, and she hates them. They get rejected, she sends them back to Fragonard, and then he keeps them in his studio for 20 years.”

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

“You can get very close to it” now, Salomon says. “The flowers are unbelievable, the way they’re painted.”

“This is a place where you can come and just do one floor, if you want,” says Salomon. “You can focus just on French art, and then come back another day for Italian art or whatever.”

“That sort of contemplative experience with the works of art was something that did happen at the house,” he continues, “but I think here happens in a different way.”

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


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