Devotion | MET’s ‘Heavenly Bodies’ Exhibition, Part II

September 25, 2018 /

Part II | A Well Planned Devotion

In this photo montage Art Guide takes a last look at this summer’s hit Costume Institute’s show Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination at the New York Metropolitan Museum. It has become the Institute’s most attended exhibition and third most visited in the museum’s history. Scheduled to close October 8th the show is divided between the first floor Medieval galleries of the 5th Ave museum and The Met Cloisters at Tryon Park.

The exhibition begins through processions in the Byzantine Galleries with sumptuous gowns by Versace and Dolce & Gabbana surrounded by the Met’s stunning backdrop of Byzantine mosaics, tapestries and metalwork. Andrew Bolton, who organized the show wished “to evoke both the concept and the experience of a religious pilgrimage,” as he presented in the hall plan layout and Medieval Art. Here, the classic profiles of Catholicism’s traditional vestments, nun habits, Marian images and armor of Joan of Arc are fully reinvented.


Not to be missed is the presentation of the lower level Anna Wintour Costume Center. Forty rare vestments, many never before released from the Sistine Chapel Sacristy include papal mantles and chasubles, priceless tiaras, rings and crosses that reveal man’s attempt to engage the Divine through imaginative and luxurious earthly creations. The carefully selected collection is Heavenly Bodies’ artistic inspiration of papal vestments embroidered with finely stitched biblical scenes and patterns that take on textile reliefs accented by gems, and threads of silver and gold.

In their beauty and religious strength the articles of this exhibition represent traditions of faith that provided designers a conduit to the technique and planning of eighteenth and early twentieth centuries craftsmanship. By contrast, today’s designers offered viewers stylized iconic imagery coupling technology with a freedom of modern design through works that could not have been hoped for in past centuries. Both Met site installations bring these fashion displays to life in striking arrangements, set lighting and background music, however The Cloisters galleries offer a more intimate dedication of space to solo presentations and grand visuals.



Before ending this segment, Art Guide would be remiss if we did not mention to our out of town viewers that both Met locations can be reached by subway or the   M4 bus taken directly from Madison Avenue/83rd Street to the last stop at Tryon Park which will bring you directly to The Cloister main entrance. Plan ahead and prepare your wallet for a bumpy ride of pricey NY entrance fees, transit and ten dollar bottles of water.


Article by Helen Porzucek, Images by staff photographer Kace Jesinsky



Visited the show after your first review and was struck by the amount of work that went into the presentation and gowns. Thanks for your take on this bit of history, could easily take two days to see everything.

Sep 26, 2018


Stunning images, Thanks!

Sep 26, 2018


Thanks for the update, great to know that we still have time for a visit!

Sep 26, 2018

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