IMAGINARY PORTRAITS: PRINCE IGOR Opens at Gallery Met Today
New works by more than 20 prominent artists will be featured in Imaginary Portraits: Prince Igor, a group show opening at the Arnold & Marie Schwartz Gallery Met today, January 31. Each of the participating artists has created a portrait of the 12th-century Russian warlord Prince Igor, the subject of Borodin's opera of the same name, who made a significant impact on medieval Russian history but left behind no definitive visual record.
The roster of artists whose work will be featured in the show, the largest exhibition in Gallery Met history, includes many of the most prominent artists of two generations-as well as some surprises. The 23 participating artists are Kristin Baker, John Baldessari, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Francesco Clemente, Peter Doig, Rachel Feinstein, Ryan Johnson, Ragnar Kjartansson, Alex Katz, Thomas Lawson, Raymond Pettibon, Elizabeth Peyton, Peter Saul, Peter Schlesinger, Dana Schutz, Dasha Shishkin, Sophie von Hellermann, Charline von Heyl, and Michael Williams, as well as fashion designer Thom Browne, New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl, and architect David Adjaye. Imaginary Portraits will be on display in Gallery Met through Saturday, May 10.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Karma Publishing will release a book this spring combining the images from Imaginary Portraits with Vladimir Nabokov's 1960 translation of "The Song of Igor's Campaign," the epic poem that Borodin used as the basis for the opera Prince Igor. More information on the book, which will retail for $25 and be available from Karma's website (www.karmakarma.org) and other retailers, will be released this spring.
On February 6, a new production of Prince Igor will open at the Met, where the Russian epic has not been performed since 1917. The staging, directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov in his Met debut and conducted by Gianandrea Noseda, will star Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role.
Dodie Kazanjian, director of Gallery Met since its opening in 2006, saw in Prince Igor a unique opportunity for a distinctive group show.
"Prince Igor is based on a real figure from the 12th century, and we don't really know what he looked like," Kazanjian said. "I've always wanted to do a show of imaginary portraits, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. The show is a rich mixture of materials and styles, and I'm enormously gratified by the unpredictable responses of these gifted artists."
Gallery Met, located in the south lobby of the opera house, is open to the public Mondays through Fridays from 6 p.m. to the end of the last intermission and Saturdays from noon to the end of the evening performance's last intermission. Admission is free and no appointments are required. Gallery Met is closed on Sundays.
For more information on the Met's contemporary visual arts initiatives, which are organized by Dodie Kazanjian, please visit www.metopera.org/gallerymet.
The Arnold & Marie Schwartz Gallery Met, located in the opera house lobby's south side, is a showcase for the contemporary works of art that reaffirms the company's long history of relationships with major visual artists. Gallery Met opened in September 2006 with Heroines, an exhibition of works inspired by the 2006-07 season's new productions. The artists represented included Cecily Brown, George Condo, John Currin, Barnaby Furnas, Richard Prince, David Salle, and others. Gallery Met's first solo exhibition, Stage Fright by Argentine artist Guillermo Kuitca, kicked off the 2007-08 season, followed by Hansel and Gretel, featuring artists fromThe New Yorker and the contemporary art scene. The works, based on The Brothers Grimm story, were on display during the run of the new production of Humperdinck's fairy tale opera. In conjunction with the Met premiere of the Philip Glass opera Satyagraha during the 2008-09 season, Gallery Met exhibited 18 portraits by Chuck Close of his composer friend in the exhibition Chuck Close Philip Glass 40 Years. That summer, Gallery Met presented eight portraits by Francesco Clemente in an exhibition called The Sopranos. The exhibition featured portraits of the divas who figured prominently in the Met's 2008-09 season, with a hardcover catalog of Francesco Clemente: The Sopranos available in bookstores. Also in 2008-9, Gallery Met presented a solo exhibition by Canadian artist David Altmejd, coinciding with the premiere of John Adams's opera Doctor Atomic. That was followed by the exhibition From the Met to the Met: Anselm Kiefer and Wagner's "Ring," the first collaboration between the Metropolitan Opera and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring Wagner-inspired works by contemporary artist Anselm Kiefer to coincide with the revival of Otto Schenk's production, during its final run at the opera house. The 2009-10 season opened with the Tosca-inspired exhibition Something About Mary,which showcased works about Mary Magdalene by 14 contemporary artists including Paul Chan, Marlene Dumas, Kiki Smith, George Condo, andJohn Currin. In 2010, William Kentridge's Ad Hoc: Works for The Nose opened at Gallery Met in conjunction with the Met premiere of Shostakovich's The Nose in a production directed by the artist. In the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, a four-artist series of works inspired by Der Ring des Nibelungen opened: Notations After the Ring by Julie Mehretu; Elizabeth Peyton's Wagner; Peter Doig's Siegfried + Poster Project; and Dana Schutz's Götterdämmerung. In the 2012-13 season, Gallery Met presented Ariel and Other Spirits, a show by David Salle presented on the occasion of the Met premiere of Thomas Adès's The Tempest, and George Condo's Jesters, presented in conjunction with the premiere of a new staging of Verdi's Rigoletto. In Fall 2013, Gallery Met presented Two Boys, an exhibition of four photographs by Laurie Simmons, shown in conjunction with the Met premiere of Nico Muhly's opera.
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Peyton