|Metropolitan Museum of Art|
When I was in New York, I spent two full days at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I won't say that I scratched the surface, but needless-to-say, I didn't see everything, either. One part of the museum that should be on every one's list is the Temple of Dendur. It dates to 15 B.C., was a gift to the United States from Egypt, and is beautifully displayed, actually staged, in the Sackler Wing.
One thing that's interesting about the Temple of Dendur is that it is covered with 18th and 19th century Western graffiti. It's inescapable.
Of course some of this graffiti is itself historic, going back to European expeditions to Egypt.
The word "graffiti" comes the Italian word "graffiato," meaning "scratched." So this is graffiti in its truest sense. At some level, graffiti has always been a reflection of the human need for imortality. Archeologists found the words "Lucius pinxit" (Lucius painted this) on a wall of Pompeii, and similar graffiti abounds from ancient times.
The relative newness, though, of this graffiti is disturbing to me. Seeing so much graffiti on the Temple of Dendur makes me wonder whether the Egyptians smiled to themselves and said, "Let's give them what they've already claimed so many times."
As I said, I visitied the Metropolitan Museum of Art,
but I won't say that I scratched the surface.
Love the temple of Dendur- as you said, such a magnificently staged exhibit. I've also been to several parties in the space - it's fabulous!! Last year I was taking a lecture series at the museum and just loved my weekly visit followed by lunch upstairs in the Trustees dining room - worth the price of membership alone!!ReplyDelete
And a visit to the Met alone is worth a trip from Florida to New York. Reading your comment, Stacey, I imagined a party at the Temple of Dendur, and then my mind went to how wonderful a candlelit affair would be there!ReplyDelete
This is most certainly, in our book, worth crossing the Atlantic to see for itself, but of course the whole of the Metropolitan Museum of Art has an international reputation. How very, very interesting and intriguing about the graffiti to be found on the Temple of Dendur, particularly that which is comparatively recent. In some respects it is quite shocking.
Your ending to this post did not pass unnoticed. Brilliant!
Ha, ha! Thanks for visiting, Jane and Lance!ReplyDelete
what i love about this kind of old graffiti, is the marvelous fonts they chose to use, so of the time.ReplyDelete
I guess nothing is new under the sun! Today, we just use a digital camera and stand in front of the object to "conquer" it and say we were here!ReplyDelete
Hi, Lynne - I too was struck that graffiti "artists" of the last century were concious of things like serifs!ReplyDelete
Hi, Theresa - I had a funny realization the other night - I spent about half an hour scrolling through my digital camera to share my NYC trip with a friend, and when I was finally through, I felt as though I'd just conducted the equivalent of a slide show travelogue. And of course now the digital camera images can in fact be viewed as a slide show.ReplyDelete
Great post, and an interesting perspective you bring. I have seen the Temple of Dendur many times, both in daylight and at night (yes, it is magical lit by candle light) but I have never noticed the graffiti. I shall look more closely the next time I am at the Met, which is but a hop, skip, and a jump from where I live. Here's a secret: I often drive to the Met from my apartment and park in the museum's subterranean garage. It is most convenient (I park in the basement garage at my apartment building so I can literally drive from my building into the Met) and I don't compete to get a taxi once I leave the museum to come home. ReggieReplyDelete
MArk, after all the trouble that I have been having with blogger lately I can now leave a comment on this post! It is strange to see such graffiti on ancient monuments and it seems that our ancestors had a passion for letting the world know that they"had been here" A few years ago while in Egypt the grafitti was everywhere, inside tombs and on the exterior as you have shownReplyDelete
Hi, Reggie - I think you are the only New York City dweller I know who owns a car! (But then, I know you like to get away to your beautiful Darlington Hall.) I wish I'd seen the Temple of Denfur by candle light!ReplyDelete
Hi, David - I'm sorry to hear there's so much graffiti on Egyption monuments! And we now live in a strange culture where graffiti is recognized by art exhibits and published books, which to my reasoning is sort of like saying that litter is art when it's raked into piles.ReplyDelete
The Met can be overwhelming but I love how you've distilled the experience down to this subcategory of a subject. Kind of brilliant of you Mark and beautiful shots beautifully composed.ReplyDelete
Hi, Scott - I feel a little guilty for concentrating on this brand of graffiti because the Temple of Dendur is as a whole a beautiful exhibit. But it's the details that always jump out at your blogging friend!ReplyDelete