Get a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, the largest exhibition The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art has ever done, opening May 10, 2018 in both The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters.
Fr. James Martin, S.J. discusses this groundbreaking exhibition with Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute and C. Griffith Mann, Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge of the Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Costume Institute’s spring 2018 exhibition will feature a dialogue between fashion and religious artworks from The Met collection to examine the relationship between creativity and the religious imagination.
The cornerstone of the exhibition is approximately 50 ecclesiastical masterworks from the Sistine Chapel sacristy, many of which have never been seen outside the Vatican. These will be on view in the Anna Wintour Costume Center galleries and will include papal vestments and accessories, such as rings and tiaras, from the 18th to the early 21st century, encompassing more than 15 papacies. The last time the Vatican sent a loan of this magnitude to The Met was in 1983, for The Vatican Collections exhibition, which is the Museum’s third most-visited show.
In addition, approximately 150 ensembles from the early 20th century to the present, primarily womenswear by a panoply of well-known fashion designers, will be shown in the medieval galleries and The Met Cloisters alongside religious art from The Met collection, providing a context for fashion’s engagement with Catholicism.
About the Participants
Andrew Bolton joined The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2002, as Associate Curator, was named Curator in 2006, and become Curator in Charge in January 2016 upon the retirement of his predecessor, Harold Koda. Mr. Bolton worked alongside Mr. Koda on exhibitions including Dangerous Liaisons (2004), Chanel (2005), Poiret (2007), and Schiaparelli and Prada (2012); and alone on AngloMania (2006), Superheroes (2008), American Woman (2010), Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty (2011), Punk (2013), China: Through the Looking Glass (2015), Manus x Machina (2016), and Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between (2017).
Bolton has authored and co-authored more than 15 books. He lectures and contributes scholarly articles to various publications. Prior to joining The Met, Mr. Bolton worked at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London for nine years, as Senior Research Fellow in Contemporary Fashion, and prior to that as Curatorial Assistant in the Far Eastern Department. During this period, he also curated exhibitions at the London College of Fashion. Born in Great Britain, Mr. Bolton earned a B.A. in social anthropology and an M.A. in Non-Western Art from the University of East Anglia.
Dr. C. Griffith Mann was appointed The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge of the Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters in September 2013. He is responsible for the medieval collections and curatorial staff at The Met Fifth Avenue (the Museum’s main building) and for directing the staff and operations of The Met Cloisters (the branch of the Museum dedicated to the art and architecture of medieval Europe). Dr. Mann received his B.A. in art history and history from Williams College, and his Ph.D. in medieval art from The Johns Hopkins University. A specialist in the arts of late medieval Italy, he has published on civic patronage, painting, and devotion in Tuscany. As a curator, Dr. Mann has worked on exhibitions on the medieval cult of relics, the art and archaeology of medieval Novgorod, and French manuscript illumination of the 13th century. Prior to joining The Met, Dr. Mann served as the Chief Curator and Deputy Director at The Cleveland Museum of Art, where he helped to lead the museum’s reinstallation, acquisition, and exhibition programs. And, as medieval curator and Director of the Curatorial Division at The Walters Art Museum, he worked on exhibitions and the permanent collection.
Fr. James J. Martin, S.J. (Moderator), is a Jesuit priest, editor at large of America magazine, and bestselling author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, and Between Heaven and Mirth. Father Martin has written for many publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and he is a regular commentator in the national and international media. He has appeared on all the major radio and television networks, as well as in venues ranging from NPR’s “Fresh Air”, FOX’s “The O’Reilly Factor”, and PBS’s “NewsHour” to Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report.” Before entering the Jesuits in 1988, Father Martin graduated from the Wharton School of Business and worked for General Electric for six years. In 2017, Pope Francis appointed him to be a Consultor for the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication.
- Tiara of Pius IX (reigned 1846–78). German and Spanish, 1854. Courtesy of the Collection of the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, Papal Sacristy, Vatican City. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Digital Composite Scan by Katerina Jebb.