Big news art fans: The Met Breuer has officially opened today! And if that wasn’t exciting enough, the work that will greet you when you enter the first exhibit ( called “Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible”) is a painting by the late Italian Renaissance artist Titian. “The Flaying of Marsyas” depicts a man hanging upside down above a pile of blood and being tugged on by some nasty looking people. Welcome!
“I knew that for many of our visitors, it would be a revelation,” Andrea Bayer, the Met’s Jayne Wrightsman Curator of European Paintings and co-curator of the inaugural show told Bloomberg. That’s one way to put it. The other would be that it’s a slightly terrifying painting in a slightly terrifying building.
The nearly 400-year-old painting normally hangs in the Kroměříž museum in the Czech Republic, and it had to be transported on a cargo plane in a climate-controlled 10-foot crate that weighed 170 pounds and was insured for millions of dollars.
There is some debate over whether the painting, which depicts the Greek myth of Marsyas (who was skinned alive after losing a musical contest with Apollo) is actually unfinished or just a very early example of abstraction. At any rate, it’s worth a ton of money, and art dealer Richard Feigen estimated that if it ever went up for auction, it would sell for about $150 million. “Any museum would like to have it, but who has the money?” Feigen told Bloomberg. “The Getty and the Qatar Museums are the only ones. But the subject matter is so gory.”