Review of the Making Marvels: Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Puaschunder, J.M. (2020). Review of the Making Marvels: Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York. Luxury: History, Culture, Consumption, 5, 3, 265-280..
17 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2020 Last revised: 11 Jun 2020
Date Written: February 12, 2020
The ‘Making Marvels: Science & Splendor at the Courts of Europe’ exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York showcased almost 200 luxury highlights. Between 1550 and 1750, royal dynasties in Europe assembled vast collections of valuable and entertaining objects representing truly spectacular inventions. Innovative tools, scientific instruments, stylized automata and luxury clocks expressed wealth and mastery of the world in a predominance over nature. Concentrated public funds went into lavish luxury display as an expression of ultimate power and status. From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, these marvels inspired extraordinary advances in science, technology and the arts with an impetus that echoed in political strategies, economic calculus but also the ethics of innovation. Over the centuries, luxury insignia have been conserved and admired by the masses. To this day, arts, fashion and lifestyle is driven by luxury, a form of excellence only reachable by the elite. Although today’s luxury may not be created in European courts on public spending, we can still – to this day – learn from these historic grand luxury creations exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art eternal values. The beauty and fascination of luxury survived throughout different times and contrary regimes. Up to today, these gems continue to mesmerize as unique experiences that are too beautiful to fail, too commonly-shared to be destroyed and too much of a Gestalt to be apart imbuing excellence displayed in luxury an eternal life. The exhibit itself appears as most advanced showcase of the deeper meaning of luxury in society than its pure visible joyful merits: As the amalgamation of artistic creation in light of European royal competition would break technological innovations that set the ground for modernism and engage crowds to contribute and stand in for the ennobling common wealth. In this ‘Making Marvels’ holds invaluable insights for the business of luxury but also ethical imperatives for the importance of excellence in society with a social component. When wandering through the well-composed luxury arcade highlightening the many domains of royal wealth and predominance it becomes clear that even though the luxury belongs to a few, these beautiful objects contribute to this day to the cultural heritage and economic well-being of the many. Art, science and entertainment was perfected at European royal courts that revolutionized our thinking in the artistic, scientific and societal worlds. Innovation and common endeavors found in luxury moments influence society and the economy to this day and today’s attention to excellence may be more important than ever. In light of our contemporary turbulent times of technological revolutions, the pleasure of luxury can entertain and the hidden value of knowledge generation and scientific advancement grant the hope of humankind to continuously excel in science and flourish in luxury.
Keywords: European royalty, Excellence, Gestalt, Luxury, Marvels, Science, Too-big-to-fail
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