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Artists Create Works About Mary Magdalene Inspired by Met's New Opening Night Production
George Condo, Mary Magdalene, 2009 oil on linen 27 x 26 inches (68.58 x 66.04 cm) Courtesy the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York.
NEW YORK, NY.- Fourteen contemporary artists have created works about Mary Magdalene for Gallery Met, inspired by the company’s new production of Puccini’s Tosca, which opens the 2009-10 season on September 21. The exhibition Something about Mary features original works by Hugh Bush, Paul Chan, Francesco Clemente, George Condo, John Currin, Rachael Feinstein, Barnaby Furnas, Elizabeth Peyton, James Rosenquist, Julian Schnabel, Dana Schutz, Shahzia Sikander, Rudolf Stingel and Francesco Vezzoli. Artists Marlene Dumas and Kiki Smith are lending previously created works on the same subject. The exhibition opens on September 22 and runs through the end of January.

Conceived and organized by Gallery Met Director Dodie Kazanjian, the exhibition takes its cue from a plot point in the opera. In the first scene of Tosca, the painter Mario Cavaradossi is returning to work on a portrait of Mary Magdalene when his lover, the singer Tosca, enters and realizes he’s chosen another woman as his model; his Magdalene’s eyes are blue and Tosca’s are brown. With this in mind, Ms. Kazanjian asked the artists to come up with their own visions of one of the Bible’s most famous figures.

“Artists throughout history have portrayed Mary Magdalene” says Kazanjian. “Why not get a contemporary crop to do so? When I approached these artists to create something for the exhibit, they responded with enthusiasm and came through magnificently.”

One of those artists was James Rosenquist, who last April lost about $14 million worth of art, archives, every tube of paint, and piece of canvas when his Florida home and studio burned to the ground. His painting Tosca 2009 is his first work since then; that painting has also been reproduced as the front-of-house banner for the Met, announcing the new season.

Gallery Met is free and open to the public six days a week. The hours are Monday through Friday 6:00 pm through the last intermission, and Saturdays from noon through the last intermission. In February, Gallery Met will present another exhibition, the work of artist William Kentridge, in connection with the premiere of his new production of Shostakovich’s The Nose.

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