Mid-century photography and modern self-portraits are featured in two new exhibitions at the Met. in the centre

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 Mid-century photography and modern self-portraits are featured in two new exhibitions at the Met.  in the centre


If you’re looking for something fun in your tryptophan haze after Thanksgiving that doesn’t mean filling yourself up with another serving of pizza filling and / or asking everyone to shut up so you can leave planes, trains, and cars in peace, there are two new complementary photo exhibitions at The Met that are well worth a visit.

Cruel Radiance: Photography, 1940s-1960s is an overview of mid-century photos, a mix of rarely seen photographs from the Met’s permanent collection with recent acquisitions of major Japanese works. In total, the exhibition includes 60 photos examining the explosion in post-war photography between World War II and the Vietnam War, showing the work of luminaries such as Helen Levitt, Robert Capa, Roy DeCarava, Robert Frank, Don McCullin and Walker Evans. The title of the exhibition comes from the collaboration between James Agee and Walker Evans in 1941, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men; Agee wrote of Evans’ work that “all consciousness is shifted from imagination … to an effort to simply perceive the cruel glory of what is.”

Then there are alter egos | Projected selves in which modern artists offer 30 “diverse experiments in self-portraits”. It’s a wide range of styles, with photographers like Tom Friedman manipulating his image beyond recognition in Untitled; Qualeasha Wood transfers her image to textiles in The [Black] Madonna / Whore Complex (2021) (debuted on the cover of Art in America earlier this year); Weng Fen and Debbie Grossman move away from their self-portraits; and Mike Kelley playing himself with iconic toys in Ah … Youth! (1991).

Both exhibitions opened this month and can be seen until May 1, 2022. The museum on 1000 5th Ave in Manhattan is open Sunday through Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more ticket information, click here.



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