Gallery Met Director Dodie Kazanjian commissioned a stunning welcome as the house reopened. Two scintillating 9-by-25 feet mosaics by American artist Rashid Johnson were installed on the Grand Tier and Dress Circle levels. Part of an exhibition titled The Chorus, the works – both titled The Broken Nine (2020 and 2021) – transform seemingly disparate materials such as colorful ceramic tile, mirror tile, oyster shells, spray enamel, bronze, oil stick, branded red oak, black soap, and wax into nine urgent figures.
“Rashid is at the forefront of a new generation of artists,” said Kazanjian. “Rashid is an artist who goes all out on everything he does. He thinks on a scale that is operatic. I wanted to see how his enormous talent would assert itself at the Met—in company with Chagall, Maillol.”
Beginning with British-born artist Cecily Brown’s large-scale oil paintings Triumph of the Vanities I and Triumph of the Vanities II in the 2018-19 season and George Condo’s sculpture Constellation of Voices in the 2019-20 season, a reconceived Gallery Met expanded from its initial ground floor gallery to all corners of the Met’s grand public spaces. Rashid Johnson’s installation continues and deepens this bold vision. His mosaics are joined by American artist Dana Schutz’ Day Drawing, Swiss-born artist Nicolas Party’s Portrait with Feathers, and American artist Shara Hughes’ The Great Divide shown around the house, inviting opera-goers to engage with the preeminent painters of our times.
The works on display are part of Artists for the Metropolitan Opera, an initiative organized by Kazanjian during the 2020-21 season in which 15 artists committed extraordinary support to the Met by donating paintings and proceeds. This 2021-22 season’s exhibition marks the first in a series curated by Kazanjian to highlight all the Artists for the Metropolitan Opera works.