Sustainable Seeing: A Veiled Dialogue of Past and Present Among the Marbles of the Metropolitan Museum




Davis, Abigail

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art displays Late Classical work Marble statue of a woman in praise of the work’s classical form and divine subject matter. This freestanding sculpture presents an ever-shifting identity dependent upon the spectator and the viewing context, which suggests that viewers project the social and cultural values of their context onto the statue as a means of deriving significance from their interaction with the work. If the context of looking veils centuries of spectators’ vision of the Met statue consistently, then we may conclude the work actively functions as an adaptive device as a means to maintain relevance to the ones who gaze upon the stone. Sustainable Seeing assesses the treatment, reception, and viewing contexts of the Metropolitan Museum’s statue in four chapters. Within these chapters of research, we uncover how the cultural and social values and individual experiences of each viewer and viewing context direct the statue’s treatment as a work of art while forming the lens through which the beholder derives meaning and significance. Situational commentary constitutes the argument that it is the dialogue we create when we interact with art of the past that sustains a meaningful engagement and thoughtful participation with history.


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