The Metropolitan Museum of Art Presents EARLY AMERICAN GUITARS: THE INSTRUMENTS OF C.F. MARTIN, 1/14-2/7

Thirty-five rare guitars that illustrate the early history of the instrument in America will go on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, beginning January 14. Drawn from the Museum's own holdings as well as from the Martin Guitar Museum in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, and several private collections, Early American Guitars: The Instruments of C. F. Martin will trace the birth of the American guitar by shedding light on the contributions of Christian Frederick Martin, a German immigrant who invented a uniquely American form of the guitar in the first half of the 19th century. The exhibition will highlight the largest collection of instruments by this renowned maker ever to be displayed publicly, including the earliest known guitar signed by Martin, the earliest established guitar with his famed X-braced construction, and several extraordinary decorated examples of his work. Also on view will be a 1939 guitar made by Martin Guitar that was played by Eric Clapton on MTV'sUnplugged series in 1992, representing the long trajectory of guitar building by the company founded by Christian Frederick Martin.

The exhibition is made possible by The Martin Guitar Company.

The exhibition draws from recent research that establishes the influence that Spanish guitars from the region of Andalusia had on Martin, who was trained in the Viennese school of instrument building. Martin used elements from both traditions to develop his own model that constituted a distinctly American style of building guitars. Included in the exhibition will be guitars from the Austro-German and Spanish guitar makers who influenced Martin's designs, as well as comparative examples by American makers who were contemporaries of Martin. Early American Guitars: The Instruments of C. F. Martin coincides with the publication of this new information in the book Inventing the American Guitar.




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by Barry Kostrinsky