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Unfinished: The Art of the Incomplete

Exploring our response to things unfinished or incomplete at the Met Breuer art museum in New York.

We are at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York at The Met Breuer, where the exhibition "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible", is a springboard to explore the notion of things unfinished or incomplete. The concept of a work of art that is unfinished, the so called 'non finito' style, has been with us since the Renaissance. But it has taken on new meaning in modern art of the 20th and 21st Century. So how should we respond to a work which is unfinished whether it is a painting, a book, a piece of music, a film or a building? And, how does the idea of ‘unfinished’ translate into an ever-changing historical and political context?

Presenter Bridget Kendall is joined by Andrea Bayer, Jayne Wrightsman, Curator in The Met’s Department of European Paintings and co-curator of "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible" at The Met Breuer; Negin Farsad, a celebrated stand-up comedian, actor and film-maker of Iranian heritage; Kerry James Marshall, the internationally renowned American artist whose work will be the subject of a major exhibition at The Met Breuer this October 2016; Andrew Solomon, professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University in New York, and an award-winning writer who is also president of PEN American Center.

(Photo: The Met Breuer in New York. Credit: Ed Lederman)

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41 minutes

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Met Breuer

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Met Breuer

The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents over 5,000 years of art from every corner of the world. The Museum lives in three iconic sites in New York City—The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters.

Since it was founded in 1870, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects and through its galleries, exhibitions, and events reveals both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures.

The Forum was recorded at The Met’s newest location, The Met Breuer, where the exhibition "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible" focuses on a subject of enduring appeal, fascination, and pleasure — but also concern, dislike, and anxiety — among artists, critics, collectors, and viewers alike.

Andrea Bayer

Andrea Bayer is Jayne Wrightsman Curator in The Met’s Department of European Paintings and co-curator of the current exhibition "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible" at The Met Breuer.

Dr. Bayer has worked at The Metropolitan Museum of Art since 1989, first in the Department of Prints and Photographs and, from 1990, in the Department of European Paintings.

Kerry James Marshall

Kerry James Marshall, internationally renowned American artist whose work is the subject of the major monographic exhibition "Kerry James Marshall: Mastry", opening October 25 at The Met Breuer.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1955, Kerry moved with his family to the Watts neighbourhood of Los Angeles in 1963. Only one year before the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and two years before the Watts Riots racked the already socioeconomically strained neighbourhood, Kerry’s childhood determined a lot of his later artwork.

Powerfully influenced by the community of black artists in Los Angeles who flourished in the wake of the Watts Riots—Betye Saar, Noah Purifoy, Charles White, and others—Marshall sought out a traditional art education, choosing painting because it was, and still is, the dominant force in museum collections. From a young age he voraciously read books about Renaissance perspectival grids, his kindergarten teacher’s scrapbook of valentines and postcards, and the 1967 publication "Images of Dignity: the Drawings of Charles White"—which contained drawings of black people the likes of which he’d never seen. Marshall’s insatiable curiosity was fuelled by wanting to know why the work of great artists looked the way it did.

Negin Farsad

Negin Farsad is an American comedian, actor, writer, and filmmaker of Iranian heritage based in New York City.

Her latest book, How to Make White People Laugh, is about growing up Iranian-American-Muslim and the power of comedy to combat racism.

She was named one of the 53 Funniest Women by the Huffington Post, one of 10 Feminist Comedians to Watch by Paper magazine, and was selected as a TEDFellow for her work in social justice comedy. Her latest film, 3rd Street Blackout, starring Janeane Garofalo and Ed Weeks, was released in 2015.

Andrew Solomon

Andrew Solomon is a writer and lecturer on psychology, politics, and the arts, and author of the new book "Far and Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change; Seven Continents, Twenty-Five Years."

He is a Professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University Medical Center, and President of PEN American Center.

He also serves on the boards of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; the World Monuments Fund; the artists’ community Yaddo; and The Alex Fund, which supports the education of Romani children.

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