Cathedrals of Art [Florine Stettheimer]

Marguerite Elliot

Contributor

Florine Stettheimer gets gossipy with the Met and then they put it on display. 

A master of parody and social commentary, Stettheimer shows us the New York art world caught in a whirlwind of posturing and subterfuge. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (center), the Museum of Modern Art (left), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (right) are entangled in struggles and possible takeovers.

The director of The Met, at the top of the stairs, is secretly negotiating to take over the collections at MoMA and the Whitney. MoMA, having ignored local American artists, is beset with administrative woes.

The Director of the Whitney stands with her arms crossed, wondering what the heck is going on.

Stettheimer is in the lower right with an armload of flowers. At the time, she was actually over 70 years old, but she depicts herself as being in her mid-30's. Artist's prerogative.

The red-carpeted staircase is lined with well-known art critics, dealers, and gallery owners gaping at the spectacle above.

Unfortunately, Stettheimer died before she could complete this painting, the last of her Cathedral series. It is fitting that even though Stettheimer shunned the shuck and jive of the commercial art world, her work is prominently displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is mocked here. Check out the ironic display the next time you're there.