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Moroccan Design at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

If you’ve followed this blog at all, you know how much my heart sings for the art of Morocco. There was a  wonderful article in the New York Times this past weekend about an amazing Moroccan courtyard taking shape inside the famed Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. This authentic recreation of a medieval Maghrebi-Andalusion-style courtyard will be the jewel at the center of the Mets’ rebuilding of its Islamic art galleries-The New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands.  The work includes intricate zellij tiles (geomentric mosaics), carved cedar molding, and hand carved filigreed plaster.

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The carving is done while the plaster is still wet…

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after transferring the design with a cardboard stencil.

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The work is sometimes so detailed that it can take one artist a full day to accomplish 4 square inches.

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The type of handcrafted and detailed work being done on site by a small group of skilled craftsman from Fez is truly and sadly not being done even in Morocco anymore. The process is simply too painstaking and expensive. According to the article a couple of the men are planning to hang up their tools after the project because they feel that they will never be able to do this high level of work again. It’s heartbreaking to think that this may be “history” in the making, but such a joy to know that this type of craftsmanship is still alive… for now.

The exhibit is scheduled to open in November 2011. As IF I needed another reason to go back and spend a day at the Met! Join me???

10 comments

  1. Definitely will. I love the Met. That is beyond gorgeous and of course we’ll all want to give it a try. Can you imagine a client’s face if you only did 4 square inches a day!

  2. You’ve got that right, Lesley! Melanie, this was wonderful to see. The detail is amazing and the pics will all the incredible artisans on the scaffolding are heartwarming. Need to get to the Met…!

  3. One of my favorite parts of going to Morocco is watching the artisans work in their cramped little shops in the souks with relatively crude tools. There is such a spiritual simplicity about it and the people are so lovely. I hope that never goes away!

  4. At lunch today a friend just invited me to spend a few days in New York with her. I might actually get to see this. I don’t think I have ever been to NYC when it has not snowed…that does not bode well for July does it?

  5. I don’t think it’s scheduled to open till next November Helen. But get thee to the Met WHENEVER you land in New York. New York Public Library as well!!

  6. Hi Melanie, if I can refrain from losing another body part, I would love to go! Need a New York fix!

  7. Just unbelievable, and so sad too. I cannot imagine doing that type of slow detailed work. Cannot wait to see it!
    Cat

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