In the print and drawing corridor of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (to the left at the top of the stairs) is (or at any rate, recently was) a small but fascinating display of snapshots from an immense collection donated by Peter J. Cohen. Two panels are shown here.
The disposition of the pieces is deft. They are staggered and far enough apart that you see them as individual shots, but
close enough together that you can’t miss the enormous variety of similar images. Which is the point: amateurish though they are, and frequently cliched (what? another little boy standing at attention?) the repetition of observations common to us all–all those little kids, all those picnics, all those grandmothers–imparts a wonderful sense of the richness and intricacy of the world. It’s a visual evocation of Rilke’s line, that when speaking of people there are no plurals, “but only countless singulars.”
One of the unconventional delights of New York’s Metropolitan and Brooklyn museums of art are their open storage rooms. The snaps here are from the American Wing at the Met; the displays at the Brooklyn are narrower and darker, which makes them seem even more exoticly back-roomy. With such variety, not everything you find in these displays is going to be of interest, but then not everything in the main galleries is of interest, either.
I’ve never given much thought to grandfather clocks, and probably will not in future. But I enjoyed seeing a row of them, with all their little variations.