Philippe de Montebello — whose long career at The Metropolitan Museum of Art spanned nearly a third of the institution’s entire history — retired a few years ago after more than thirty-one years as director. At the time of his reitrement the curators of the various departments each dug around in their collections and chose to feature acquisitions made during the de Montebello years, their favorites. And that's one of the exhibits I saw with my wife Jane in late December 2008. Some pieces were chosen more because the story of the acquisition is fascinating than because the artwork itself is tops. So the show was a hodge podge, arranged, room by room, according to the date the work came to the museum rather than its year of creation. Exhibit goers got a bit of whiplash moving from the 18th-c. wooden bust of a powerful Russian politician to Segovia's favorite Spanish (actually Austrian) guitar to some Tahitian faces drawing by Gauguin in 1899.
I've made an mp3 recording of a speech avatar reciting the lecture Wallace Stevens gave at MoMa in 1951, "Relations between Poetry and Painting." Stevens himself spoke in a low droning monotone so the avatar, minus the patrician accent, gets it about right. Stevens made more public visits to New York in 1951 than any other year. He read at the Poetry Center/92nd St Y, at MoMA, gave several short talks at various occasions, etc. Some of his letters read like I-do-this-I-do-that accounts of walking and looking along the avenues.