COLLECTING
Thomaï Serdari on Fine Arts & Luxury
Luxe, calme et volupté
Ellsworth Kelly sculpture at the Morgan's Gilbert Court

Ellsworth Kelly sculpture at the Morgan’s Gilbert Court. Courtesy of The Morgan Library.

It is great to call New York home, if not for anything else, for the wealth of resources and the multitude of opportunities to look at great art. There are only a few cities that can boast such a great number of cultural institutions that, in turn, mount exhibits all year long and keep their audiences stimulated even in the heart of the summer.

Yet, the summer gets quite oppressive in the city. And while I am aware of the great exhibitions currently on view in New York, I often forgo the desire to study an exhibit for an alternate plan: a tour of “luxe, calme et volupté,” through some of New York’s most luxuriously sensuous spaces. These are spaces characterized mainly by stillness, cool temperatures, absence of crowds and art arranged with permanence in mind rather than a curator’s didactic narrative. What happens there comes always as a surprise and its usually restorative.

Here is a sample of spaces I would encourage you to visit exactly when you feel you have been oversaturated with art.
The Grolier Club: walk through the exhibition spaces that are open to the public no matter what the exhibit on display happens to be.
The Morgan Library’s Gilbert Court: order a refreshing beverage and observe people come in and out of the galleries. Ellsworth Kelly’s totemic sculpture is the perfect anchor for a reflective afternoon.
The Frick Collection’s interior court: sit on a marble bench and observe how the light changes with the passing of time.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Medieval Galleries: enjoy the vastness of this musty space and the fact that other than the museum’s guard you are the only visitor.

By the end of this expedition you will have come up with your own definition of the celebrated phrase “luxe, calme et volupté,” and you will be ready to jump right back in to exhibition viewing.

© Thomaï Serdari