Ceramics at the top of the MET
New York’s Metropolitan Museum certainly needs no presentation: the two million works of art it contains make it one of the world’s most important art collections. Every year the Met attracts nearly seven million visitors from 190 different countries. One part of the museum, however, is not quite so well known. This is the Roof Garden, a sophisticated rooftop bar famed for its cocktails as well as for its breathtaking view of the New York skyline. Many insist that the Roof Garden serves the best Martini in New York! Inaugurated in 1987 with the support of the Cantor family, whose name appears in the official designation “The Iris and Gerald B. Cantor Roof Garden”, this rooftop space is not just a delightful and sophisticated meeting place but also – and naturally so – an ideal venue for special happenings in the art world, events that attract over half a million visitors annually.
One recent Roof Garden happening, one of the top events of the 2017 New York art season, is also a success story for Italian ceramics: “The Theater of Disappearance”, an exhibition-installation created by artist Adriàn Villar Rojas to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the prestigious rooftop was immediately voted one of the top “must see shows” by the New York Times.
Totally unperturbed by the venue’s high-society reputation, the Argentinean artist, a favourite of international art critics for installations all over the world, from London to Paris and Istanbul to Venice, chose to emphasise the tone of his latest location by creating a chaotic melee in which artworks from the Metropolitan’s collection, normally frozen in a “sterile” museum environment, are allowed to enjoy the warmth and vitality of the city’s exciting social life. “One way or another”, explains Villar Rojas, “I wanted to play with these symbols of culture, partly in the hope of restoring them to life, giving them back the active role in daily life they originally had.” With this aim, the artist trudged for miles and miles through the myriad rooms of the museum, studied its artistic symbols and styles, held detailed discussions with the staff, and finally chose one hundred works from 17 different departments to have reproduced in 3D with the aid of the latest technology. The selected items include Egyptian masks, oriental sculptures, classical statues, weapons, African heads, contemporary human and animal figures, tables and items of furniture, cutlery and food, all arranged in a totally surreal atmosphere dominated by the shades of black and white and always covered in a layer of dust to remind visitors of their immobility in time. To place his narrative – an honest celebration of the Met – in context, the artist also decided to completely redesign the Roof Garden for a series of sets facing Fifth Avenue and Central Park, by creating a ballroom scene with the powerfully emotive background of a chequered floor in black, white and grey. Covered by through-body porcelain tiles from Del Conca’s Ceramica Due2 collection, this floor surrounds the bar counter and the wooden benches on the terrace, forming a uniform and solemn stage for an unforgettable piece of performance art. At 20 mm thick, these wear resistant, weather-proof and non-slip tiles are stronger than most alternatives and can even be installed “dry” without adhesive, on grass, sand or gravel surfaces. In this particular case they cover a raised floor, since the temporary nature of the installation requires all elements to be easily removable.
Ceramica Del Conca, due2 collection
60x120 cm, 40x120 cm, 30x120 cm, 40x80 cm, 60x60 cm, 80x80 cm, 40×40cm, 20×20 cm
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): < 0,1
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): GA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): -
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R11
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant