Indian Artist Nasreen Mohamedi at the Met Breuer


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Met Breuer - Photo: Ed Lederman

Met Breuer – Photo: Ed Lederman



 It’s your last chance to see this amazing show which closes June 5.

A View of Infinity from the Met Breuer

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is the city’s largest art museum, has always been New York’s crown jewel. Now along with its iconic Fifth Avenue space and the Cloisters, it has a new avatar, Met Breuer (pronounced Broy-er) on Madison Avenue.

Indeed, this famous Bauhaus building with its gray granite exteriors and asymmetrical windows is right in the middle of a street of thriving commerce,  and remains an oasis of creativity, a beloved, timeless space where even ordinary people can enjoy its riches.

Nasreen Mohamedi installation view

Nasreen Mohamedi installation view

In this newest incarnation, the Met is nurturing a modern and contemporary art program through exhibitions and artist residencies, using its historical collections and scholarly expertise to bring a global perspective to connect the dots, thus enriching the experience for viewers.

According to Sheena Wagstaff, Leonard A. Lauder Chairman for Modern and Contemporary Art at Met Breuer, the emphasis will be on themes which stretch across history, geography and art forms. The opening exhibition is a retrospective of  the Indian  modernist Nasreen Mohamedi – and many are seeing her work for the first time. For the first time three museums have come together to create this in-depth exhibition  -The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and  the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art. The exhibition is supported by Nita and Mukesh Ambani and the Reliance Foundation.

‘Waiting is a Part of Intense Living’ is the most ambitious exhibition of the work of Mohamedi, who died prematurely in 1990, and captures the breathtakingly simple yet complex story of her life and work through organic forms, grids and lines. Spanning Mohamedi’s entire career, the show brings together more than 130 paintings, drawings, photographs, and rarely seen diaries.

Besides Mohamedi’s retrospective, there is another inaugural opening:  ‘Unfinished: Thoughts left Visible’ – works which have left unfinished by intent or accident and include the work of noted artists from the Renaissance to the present day.

Jeff Koons, Isha Ambani, Nita Ambani and AR Rahman

Jeff Koons, Isha Ambani, Nita Ambani and AR Rahman

This ground-breaking exhibition has received rapturous praise from the mainstream media. The soft opening of the Met Breuer has brought in the social and art denizens, and has included Nita Ambani and her daughter, Kiran and Shiv Nadar of the Kiran Nadar Museum  and many local and international art collectors and gallerists.  There have been several social receptions and walkthroughs at the Met as well as a dinner at the Rainbow Room hosted by Nadar. The official opening of the museum to the public is on March 18 and many more events are planned. Says Kiran Nadar, “The most rewarding thing is being able to show an Indian artist for the launch of the Met Breuer. I’m very hopeful of these collaborations and that Indian art will find a place in the western museums.”

Karode, who knew Nasreen as a friend and teacher for many years thinks she would have been pleased to have her work at the Breuer because it has a barren simplicity to it which Nasreen would have responded to.

Nasreen Mohamedi

Nasreen Mohamedi

While America may be debating racism and Islamophobia with certain loud voices drowning out others, here at the Met, it is about unity in diversity with Mohamedi’s timeless work. The fact that the Met is paying high tribute to the work of a Muslim woman artist and recognizing the universality of her work is what makes New York the city it is.

As you watch the people contemplate Nasreen Mohamedi’s paintings, you realize it may take many viewings for the work to fully reveal itself but it is touching something in everyone, the spiritual yearning which we all have at our center. Says Roobina Kharode, “This whole idea of the effervescent and the ephemeral is so strong in her work. It was her journey, it touched the chord of a very high consciousness. For us, it’s almost a lesson in living.”


The Met Breuer Lobby

The Met Breuer Lobby

Five Facts You Didn’t Know About the MET BREUER

1.The iconic Breuer building, created by the Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer back in 1966, was earlier the home of the Whitney Museum of American Art and when that museum moved downtown last year, the Met and the Whitney entered into a collaborative agreement by which the Whitney retains ownership of the building and the Met will present programming for a period of 8 years.

2.The exhibition Nasreen Mohamedi is a focus of The Met’s resident artist, the eminent jazz musician and composer Vijay Iyer. In homage to Mohamedi’s devotion to Indian classical music and her improvisatory imagery that at times evokes an abstracted rhythmic notation, Iyer will present the world premiere of a new composition, ‘A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke.’


Nasreen Mohamedi installation view

Nasreen Mohamedi installation view

  1. 3.The Met has three physical locations, The Met Fifth Avenue; The Met Breuer and The Met Cloisters and now, there’s a fourth space, “the Digital Met” masterminded by Chief Digital Officer Sree Sreenivasan  transforming the website into the largest international art venue in the world with half a million works of art, apps, video and audio, even hi-resolution images for download. So if you can’t come to the Met, the Met is coming to your home!
    4.The same ticket can get you into all three of the Met Museums – a big value in terms of culture! It’s also nice to know that kids under 12 are free with an adult, and to avoid the long lines it’s best to book your tickets online.
  5.If you have a coffee urge while at the Met Breuer, you’ll be glad to know there’s a pop-up cafe serving coffee and light fare. Come summer, the Met Breuer will also offer modern cuisine at Estela Breuer, a collaboration with restaurateur Thomas Carter and chef Ignacio Mattos.

More information:  

This exhibition celebrates one of the most important artists to emerge in post-Independence India, and marks the first museum retrospective of the artist’s work in the United States. Nasreen Mohamedi examines the career of an artist whose singular and sustained engagement with abstraction adds a rich layer to the history of South Asian art and to modernism on an international level. The retrospective spans the entire career of Mohamedi (1937–1990)—from her early works in the 1960s through her late works on paper in the 1980s—exploring the conceptual complexity and visual subtlety that made her work unique for its time, and demonstrating why she is considered one of the most significant artists of her generation.


(C) Lavina Melwani. This article was first published in India Today.


About Author

Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. [email protected] & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!

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