THIS IS A BIG ONE! This post is about an excursion to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Monday, June 12th to have the opportunity to see TWO blockbuster shows – both years in the making but delayed by the pandemic. The shows are: the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute’s KARL LAGERFELD: A LINE OF BEAUTY and the Met’s VAN GOGH’s CYPRESSES. Because these are both likely to be very crowded, the MWC visit will be flexible. MWC’ers can choose to see either or both exhibitions on the day with other members, or not (you might want to go on your own)! BUT, so we can have a collective experience we will have lunch together and compare notes! Reservations have been made at the Met Dining Room (formerly the Members’ Dining Room), truly one of the most elegant spaces in NYC, and will be able to accommodate a substantial number of us. Taking a cue from the Metro-Divas, we will do this on a pre-paid basis ($52.50 per person) to make settling up the check(s) easy-peasy. In the event there are additional funds, they will be donated to GOD’S LOVE WE DELIVER. Many thanks to Bette N. and Marsha W. for organizing this activity!
HOW TO SIGN UP? There are three different ways to reserve your seat:
1) MWC’ers can reserve a seat at lunch by using the Venmo code on the #lagerfeld-and-can-gogh-at-the-met channel in MWC-SLACK.
2) As of this coming Monday (5/1), we will email a current activity update to all MWC’ers – and the Venmo link will there also.
3) Also as of this coming Monday (5/1) there will be a password-protected page (same one as for other site pages) accessed via the “Sign-Up!” tab on the MWC website’s menu ribbon with a listing of current activities, along with sign up links/ info.
However, CAPACITY WILL BE LIMITED so whichever way you choose to sign up – do it SOON – on the website, on MWC-SLACK or in the weekly update emails. Seats will be assigned on a First-Come-First-Served basis. Sign up for the MWC-Slack #lagerfeld-and-van-gogh channel to arrange meeting up with others or to form your own group – and to receive additional details as to how lunch is being organized. If you are a member of the Met, you do not need to get an admission ticket in advance – you can use your membership card as your “ticket.” The Museum opens at 10am.
KARL LAGERFELD: A LINE OF BEAUTY
Karl Lagerfeld, who died in 2019, is perhaps best known for reviving the House of Chanel, starting in 1982. He brightened the colors, shortened and tightened the skirts, padded the shoulders, was playful and exuberant with mounds of pearls and gold chains and contemporized and extended the use of the famous Chanel logo of interlocking, backward “C’s.” But many people forget that Lagerfeld designed for several fashion houses, starting with Jean Patou and including Balmain, Chloe and Fendi – and his own, eponymous, line. He even did a capsule collection for H&M!
Of German descent, Lagerfeld felt a very strong tie to European culture which was reflected in his work. In addition to being a fashion designer, he was also a photographer, illustrator, collector, bibliophile, creative director and artist in multiple media. His fashion career, at the highest level for some of the best known European brands in the world, was also one of the longest (65 years!), most diverse and most prolific. A video of Lagerfeld sketching is at the end of this post.
One of Lagerfeld’s best-known design projects was himself. In 2000 he decided that he was too heavy to be able to wear the clothes he wanted to or have a distinct look for himself. So, he commenced on a rigorous 1200-calorie a day diet – and a lot of Diet Coke! – and by 2001, he had lost 92 pounds. From then until his death, he presented himself with a signature, unmistakable look from which he then never varied. Snow white hair tied at the back of his head; very high, white, starched colllars; black leather fingerless gloves and usually black sunglasses became his look. Lagerfeld was often seen with his beloved, white Burmese cat, Choupette, who will be an honored guest at the Met’s Costume Institute Gala which will open KARL LAGERFELD: A LINE OF BEAUTY.
This may well be a crazy-crowded event – remember the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition? So think about how you want to approach this so you can best enjoy it.
VAN GOGH’S CYPRESSES
At the same time, but in a different part of the Metropolitan, you can also see (using your same admission ticket!) Van Gogh’s Cypresses. This is the first exhibition to focus on Van Gogh’s trees (not his sunflowers!) which are among the most famous in the history of art. These are immortalized in many of his signature images including such iconic works as Wheat Field with Cypresses and The Starry Night .
Juxtaposing landmark paintings with drawings and illustrated letters this exhibition offers an extraordinary opportunity to appreciate some of Van Gogh’s most celebrated works in a biographical context that reveals the backstory of their creation. It is believed that the cypresses, which appear in so many of his works, first came to his attention when he was staying in a mental hospital in Saint-Remy-de-Provence in France. Cypress trees are a common sight in Provence and his including them in so many works he painted while he was there provide a sort of coda to this period in his life. Although a productive, creative, time it was also full of turmoil for VanGogh. It was during this time, after a contentious visit by Paul Gauguin, that he cut off his ear. Two years later, in 1890, Van Gogh left Arles and traveled north to be closer to his brother Theo who lived in Paris. But sadly, he committed suicide that summer.
At the end of his life, Van Gogh created almost a painting a day; many of these were of the countryside in Provence and many featured cypress trees. These paintings serve as both an artistic and biographical diary of Van Gogh at the end of his life as they clearly track shifts in his outlook and techniques on an almost day-to-day basis.
Since Van Gogh’s works are rarely shared by museums (Starry Night hasn’t left MOMA since its acquisition in 1941) this presentation is a rare opportunity to see this many of VanGogh’s works together.