On Tuesday, September 23, the Arnold & Marie Schwartz Gallery Met will open FIGARO/Peter Saul, an exhibition of 5 original paintings presented in conjunction with the Met’s season-opening new production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. Saul’s Figaro will be on display in Gallery Met, located in the opera house’s south lobby, through January 3. The Met’s 2014-15 season opens September 22 with the new staging of Le Nozze di Figaro, which will be conducted by Met Music Director James Levine and directed by Richard Eyre.
This will be the first solo Gallery Met show for Saul, a mainstay of the pop art world for more than 50 years; he contributed a painting to last season’s group show Imaginary Portraits: Prince Igor. Saul’s trademark style, which blends cartoon imagery with often grotesque and vulgar elements to provide social and political commentary, remains a significant influence on a younger generation of artists. In 2002, more than four decades into Saul’s career, New York Times critic Michael Kimmelman praised his work for being “astonishingly fresh and current.” His work has been seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMa, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney, and many museum in Europe. In 2013, Saul was prominently featured in the exhibition Sinister Pop at the Whitney Museum of American Art and last spring, he curated a group exhibition at Zürcher Studio in the East Village called If You’re Accidentally Not Included, Don’t Worry About It. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2010.
“It’s a question of bringing music—and bringing Mozart—into the world of modern art in ways that are unexpected,” Saul said. “I thought the paintings should have a certain visual force to them. And I hope I’ve related them to the opera as gracefully as I’m able.”
Dodie Kazanjian, director of Gallery Met since its opening in 2006, chose Saul to provide a bold artistic complement to the Met’s new production of Le Nozze di Figaro.
“The paintings Peter has created for this show flirt with the imagination. They’re so vivid and animated that you can almost hear them sing,” Kazanjian said. “And today, when his work is resonating more than ever with a new crop of artists, I thought it was the perfect time for his first solo show at Gallery Met.”
Gallery Met, located in the south lobby of the opera house, is open to the public Mondays through Fridays from 6 p.m. to the end of the last intermission and Saturdays from noon to the end of the evening performance’s last intermission. Admission is free and no appointments are required. Gallery Met is closed on Sundays.
Le Nozze di Figaro opens on September 22 in a new production directed by Richard Eyre, with Met Music Director James Levine conducting a cast led by Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role; Marlis Petersen as Figaro’s quick-witted bride-to-be, Susanna; Peter Mattei as Count Almaviva; Amanda Majeski in her Met debut as the Countess; and Isabel Leonard as Cherubino.
For more information on the Met’s contemporary visual arts initiatives, which are organized by Dodie Kazanjian, please visit www.metopera.org/gallerymet.