Sacred or Secular, Old or New? The Cloisters in New York


What could possibly be modern about medieval architecture?

In New York, at the very top of Manhattan in a region of the island that used to be referred to as ‘God’s thumb’, there’s a huge park. Within Fort Tryon Park sits one of the most important collections of medieval art, sculpture architecture in the world. This is The Cloisters, a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This year it’s celebrating its 75th anniversary with two very different exhibitions. One is focused on a cluster of its most precious items: the unicorn tapestries produced in France in the fifteenth century. The other is the first contemporary art exhibition that The Cloisters has ever displayed, Janet Cardiff’s Forty Part Motet. It consists of forty speakers configured in a circle, each of which plays a single part from the Tudor composer Thomas Tallis’ forty-part motet Spem in…

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