Sunday, November 26, 2006

Even the Met Museum is Low Class- Sometimes

Yesterday, we went to the Met Museum, which is probably my fourth favorite place on earth. (1. bed, 2. Fire Island, 3. Hood River, Oregon)

The Met currently has a show called Glitter and Doom: German Portraits from the 1920s. A brief description of the show from the Museum's website states,

"Political, economic, and social turmoil shaped Germany’s short-lived Weimar Republic (1919–1933). These pivotal years also witnessed an incredibly creative period in German literature, art, music, film, theater, and architecture. In painting, a trend of matter-of-fact realism took hold. Disillusioned by the cataclysm of World War I, the most vital German artists moved towards what became known as a Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), in particular, a branch known as Verism. Looking soberly, cynically, and even ferociously at their fellow citizens, these artists found their true m├ętier in portraiture, as seen in the 40 paintings and 60 works on paper featured in “Glitter and Doom.”

The exhibition features gripping portraits by ten renowned artists: Max Beckmann, Heinrich Maria Davringhausen, Otto Dix, George Grosz, Karl Hubbuch, Ludwig Meidner, Christian Schad, Rudolf Schlichter, Georg Scholz, and Gert H. Wollheim."

I love these artists who are so funky, wierd, and over the top.

But, something made me drop dead in my tracks. The sub-title in the first room is "Cripples, Prosititutes, and Profiteers."
Here, the word cripple is used throughout to describe the satirical redition of war veteran who have been made grosteque by the ravages of war. I GET it. These men, these paintings are meant to show the break-down, the crippleness, in an ugly society.

But, it still doesn't sit well. Does the ends justify the means? Was the use of the word in this context crucial and acceptable? I'm still not convinced. On the Met's more well-written website the show is descibed as "With harsh candor and biting humor, the portraits in the exhibition a Weimar demimonde of prostitutes and profiteers, war veterans and war widows, performers and poets" This seems more fair.

This brings into question when and if certain words should be used. I don't want to make such a big deal of it. But, again, I suspect if someone used the words fag, nigger or cunt to describe a museum show the lynch mob would be in there.

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