This Too is Technological (Glass)

(last week at the American Wing, Metropolitan Museum of Art)

I remember from “Notes from the Underground” the pretty harsh things Dostoyevsky’s narrator had to say about the Crystal Palace in London. I used to love Dostoyevsky, as a high school boy, and maybe I still do a little. But my own views have mellowed considerably.

I think these late 18th C. sugar bowls and pocket bottles, early 19th C. blown glass plates and pitchers at the Met in the American wing are marvelous. Each object is simple and elegant –unlike the more gaudy Gilded Age pieces.

What I like about the exhibition space on the mezzanine level is the way in which the glass objects are [1] encased in glass display cases, which are [2] framed in again by large glass wall-windows. The crystalline spaces are illuminated by ample natural light and then [3] re-framed by the trees outside in Central Park. Dostoyevsky can stay underground. On a sunny day, it’s a wonderful public place in which to refract.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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