I went to the "Guitar Heroes" opening party last week at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. While the exhibit's name might lead some to think the Met's show honors the Guitar Hero video game, Guitar Heroes instead examines the work of three craftsmen--John D'Angelico, James D'Aquisto, John Monteleone--and their place in the extended context of Italian and Italian-American instrument making.
Instruments by the three master builders have been used by some of the most influential guitarists of the 20th century, including Chet Atkins, Les Paul, George Benson, Paul Simon, Steve Miller, Mark Knopfler, Pete Townshend, and Grant Green, among others. Guitar Heroes presents more than 50 instruments by the three men, along with other extraordinary stringed instruments from the Museum's extensive collection, which includes masterpieces of Italian and Italian-American construction. I'm not a musician, but seeing the instruments in person, I was awed by their craftsmanship and beauty.
"Guitar Heroes: Legendary Craftsmen from Italy to New York" will be on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art through July 4. If you're not in the city, check out the Museum's Web site and download the free iTunes Guitar Heroes app. The app, the Museum's first, was designed to complement and augment the exhibition. It features music performances and artist interviews produced for this exhibition, and rarely seen archival and new video footage with Chet Atkins, George Benson, Grant Green, Bob Grillo, Jim Hall, Mary Kaye, Woody Mann, Steve Miller, Jeffrey Mironov, Barry Mitterhoff, Bucky Pizzarelli, and Django Reinhardt.
The Morrison Hotel Gallery in Manhattan's East Village is hosting "The Art of the Guitar" photography show, which features the work of award-winning Smithsonian photographer Jonathan Singer. I visited the gallery last week, and the large photographs are truly stunning.
Also in the city, the Museum of Modern Art has "Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914" which brings together 70 collages, constructions, drawings, mixed-media paintings, and photographs assembled from over 30 public and private collections worldwide. The exhibition will be on view in The Museum of Modern Art's Special Exhibitions gallery through June 6.