This exhibition addresses a subject critical to artistic practice: the question of when a work of art is finished. Beginning with the Renaissance masters, this scholarly and innovative exhibition examines the term "unfinished" in its broadest possible sense, including works left incomplete by their makers, which often give insight into the process of their creation, but also those that partake of a non finito—intentionally unfinished—aesthetic that embraces the unresolved and open-ended. Some of history's greatest artists explored such an aesthetic, among them Titian, Rembrandt, Turner, and Cézanne.
The unfinished has been taken in entirely new directions by modern and contemporary artists, among them Janine Antoni, Lygia Clark, Jackson Pollock, and Robert Rauschenberg, who alternately blurred the distinction between making and un-making, extended the boundaries of art into both space and time, and recruited viewers to complete the objects they had begun.
Comprising 197 works dating from the Renaissance to the present—approximately forty percent of which are drawn from the Museum's own collection, enhanced by major national and international loans—this exhibition demonstrates The Met's unique capacity to mine its rich collection and scholarly resources to present modern and contemporary art within a deep historical context.
Credit: Exhibition Overview from the Met Museum website
Whether you go or not, the exhibition catalog Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible is a ground-breaking multidisciplinary exploration of "unfinishedness" as essential to understanding art movements from the Renaissance to the present day. Unfinished features more than 200 works, created in a variety of media, by artists ranging from Leonardo, Titian, Rembrandt, Turner, and Cézanne to Picasso, Warhol, Twombly, Freud, Richter, and Nauman. What unites these works, across centuries and media, is that each one displays some aspect of being unfinished. Thought-provoking essays and case studies by contemporary scholars address this concept from the perspective of both the creator and the viewer, probing the impact that this long artistic trajectory—which can be traced back to the first century—has had on modern and contemporary art. The book explores the degrees to which instances of incompleteness were accidental or intentional, experimental or conceptual.