The Artist Project

What Artists See When They Look At Art

Since the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened in New York nearly 150 years ago, artists have lingered in its hallowed halls, taking inspiration from a collection that spans over five millennia. A new book celebrates this tradition in the 21st century. Based on a year-long web series by the Metropolitan Museum debuted between March 2015 and June 2016, The Artist Project features interviews with 120 well-known contemporary artists from around the world about works in the Met’s collection that spark their imagination. Readers will be excited to discover the unexpected places where the artists find personal connection in one of the world’s preeminent museums. Mark Bradford reflects on the emotional temperature of color in Clyfford Still’s abstract paintings; Lee Ufan contemplates the magical aura of an 18th century Korean vase by an unknown artist; Liliana Porter admires how the precise details in portraiture from the late 15th century bring the subjects to life; Edmund de Waal marvels at the timelessness of a Ming dynasty white Chinese ewer; and Martha Rosler travels to the Cloisters where she considers the relation of historical and contemporary artistic practices and the broader purpose that art serves in society.

Originally recorded for the Met’s website, the interviews have been transcribed for the book and are accompanied by reproductions of each piece from the Met’s collection alongside images of the artist’s own work—allowing readers to see for themselves the visual connections across time and cultures. The unique perspectives and thought-provoking insights offered by the artists will inspire readers to look at art in a new, more personal, way.