NYC Vignettes: The Cloisters

November 27, 2013

Effigies in the Gothic Chapel Glass Gallery, The Cloisters

Effigies in the Gothic Chapel Glass Gallery, The Cloisters

The first time I visited NYC with my husband, we simply ran out of time before we had a chance to trek north to The Cloisters, a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  This time one of my top priorities was to remedy that oversight.   I took the subway train to the 190th Street Station and disembarked to face a lovely 10- or 15-minute walk through the grounds, which overlook the Hudson River, to the Cloisters Museum entrance.

The Cloisters' grounds

The Cloisters’ grounds

The Cloisters Museum entrance

The Cloisters Museum entrance

The  Cloisters is a collection of medieval art and architecture.  The various cloister walks make you feel as if you were back in a medieval monastery or nunnery.  I loved the stained glass windows and their reflections, the massive and somber stone walls, the unicorn tapestries and madonna statues.

One of the pillared cloisters

One of the pillared cloisters

Langon Chapel

Langon Chapel

Stained glass reflections

Stained glass reflections

Another of the cloisters

Another of the cloisters

And as stunning as the art and architecture was, the most impressive part of my visit was a sound installation in the Fuentiduena Chapel.  This celebration of sacred music, called The Forty Part Motet by Janet Cardiff, featured the Choir of England’s Salisbury Cathedral.  Each voice was recorded separately and then played back through 40 speakers placed in a oval-shape.  The music, a blend of sounds, resounded and resonated in the small chapel.  I had first read about this special sound exhibition in Gwarlingo, a blog I follow.  The way she describes her experience listening to Cardiff’s work inspired me to make a special effort to include The Cloisters on my NYC itinerary.  That post also includes a link to the music, and I urge you to take 10 minutes or so to listen to the full cycle.  The music is the best part of today’s post, I assure you!

Janet Cardiff's The Forty Part Motet

Janet Cardiff’s The Forty Part Motet

I did manage to do a little sketching on this trip, and here is my work from The Cloisters:

Kneeling Virgin, The Cloisters

Kneeling Virgin, The Cloisters

On-site pencil sketch, The Cloisters

On-site pencil sketch, The Cloisters

Watercolor sketch of the Kneeling Virgin

Watercolor sketch of the Kneeling Virgin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Responses to “NYC Vignettes: The Cloisters”

  1. camilla wells paynter Says:

    Glad you found time to sketch! I like your Madonna. She seems less contemplative, more earthy, sensual…a bit happier than the one she’s based on. I like how she’s looking at the viewer, for example, rather than heavenward, and she has a bit of a Mona Lisa smile!

    Will check out the music….

  2. camilla wells paynter Says:

    The link on Gwarlingo is to a work of Thomas Tallis. So Cardiff’s work is the installation per se, not the composition? I’m confused now….it sounds wonderful, whatever the case.

    • Rosemary Says:

      I think you are right, Cardiff breaks apart and layers the music of Tallis.

      • shoreacres Says:

        Yep. I was a bit confused at first, two, but when I read the Gwarlingo post, it made it more clear that the music is Tallis.

        By the way, both your post and the article in Gwarlingo are wonderful. I’ve subscribed now to Gwarlingo – and I know exactly the sound the word refers to! I get to listen to it whenever I’m paying attention to my own clock.

  3. bobraxton Says:

    End of the subway line (uptown) – visually, as close to the Isle of Iona (Abbey) without going to Scotland


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