For this cultural activity, I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is located in New York City, New York. The date on which I visited the museum was June 4, 2018. I visited the museum alone, but the museum is open to the public, so there were other attendees, including tourists and art enthusiasts from around the world. Upon first arriving at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I would characterize my reaction as somewhat overwhelmed. The museum is home to a broad range of collections and exhibits—including pieces by some of the most well-known artists from throughout history—so it was difficult for me to decide where I should begin my exploration of the available artwork. Knowing that my time for engaging in this cultural activity was limited, I wanted to make sure that I took advantage of every minute in order to get the most out of this experience.
One of the pieces of art that caught my attention was the painting The Baptism of Christ, by Jacopo Bassano, an Italian artist from the town of Bassano del Grappa. Although the specific date of the painting is not known for sure, the estimated date is 1590. This oil-on canvas painting depicts the story from the New Testament, in which John the Baptist baptizes Jesus at the Jordan River. There is an angel in the frame, holding a red cape to cover Jesus’ nakedness, and there are other angels and a dove observing the moment. While Jesus and the angels are well-lit and highlighted by the red color of the cape, John the Baptist is shrouded in darkness, and the whole sky in the painting is dark, except for the white dove overhead. This gives the painting a foreboding tone that foreshadows Jesus’ crucifixion. Aside from the content of the painting itself, one of the most striking things about this piece of artwork is its size: the canvas is over six feet tall and five feet wide, so the figures in the painting are almost life size.
Another piece of art that I viewed during this cultural activity was the bronze statue Stalking Panther, which was created by American artist Alexander Phimister Proctor between 1891 and 1902. The statue is about nine inches tall and slightly over three feet long. Even though it is smaller than a life size panther, the statue provides an anatomically accurate depiction of a stalking cat; indeed, the information provided by the museum indicated that the artist used a shaved cat as a reference while he was working on the statue. As a result, it was easy to distinguish the individual muscles, bones, and tendons depicted in the statue. Another notable feature of this statue is the way in which it depicts motion. The artist captures the panther midstep, and its forward stalking motion is clear to the view, as if it might suddenly step off of its pedestal.
In summary, when I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, I had the opportunity to view innumerable works of art, including impressive works by artists I had heard of before, as well as those who were unfamiliar to me. In these works, I was able to identify many of the concepts discussed in the course, such as artists’ use of different media. Overall, my reaction to this experience was positive. Even though I was somewhat disappointed that I could not see all of the art that the Met had to offer in one day, I enjoyed having the opportunity to engage with work by a wide range of artists from many different historical time periods.