Currently there is an exhibit entitled "Guitar Heroes" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It runs through July 4th, and if you have any thought about a music exhibit "fitting in" to the premise of an art museum, think again. The show is put together with the utmost detail, and my accompanying photos are going to focus on that exact thing, in a different way; detail...after all, you all want to visit the MET and behold the show for yourselves- from the craftsmanship of the luthiers of northern Italy years ago right up to the Four Seasons guitars created by John Monteleone, I'd hate to spoil all the up close opulence with some quick pix.
The exhibit is divided into 5 parts: two historical eras; and then focusing on three primary Italian-American craftsmen in New York: John D'Angelico, whose New Yorker guitar model Chet Atkins likened to owning a Rolls Royce; James D'Aquisto, who offered special innovations like sound holes that can be opened and closed to create tonal differences; and John Monteleone, whose varied background in his father's design workshops opened his mind to liquid design sensibilities, as shown here on 2 detail shots of the Sun King guitar.
This guitar came about because of a desire of the creator to work with maple and ebony alternating in a fan pattern. Once the fan pattern was completed, the headstock, pickguard and tailpiece came together quickly and this amazing looking instrument was born. In the background of this picture are two of Monteleone's Four Season guitars, pieces that feature illustrations inside each guitar body conveying the mood of the season of the guitar, and a partial materials list of: spiney oyster, Alpine spruce, Oregon big-leaf maple, ebony, koa, Honduras mahogany, mother-of-pearl, curly red maple, sterling silver, diamonds, paua shell, turquoise, German alpine spruce, macassar ebony, red coral and rubies. The artistry gone into each of these guitars boggles the mind.
The exhibit showcases many instruments from 200+ years ago, all the way up to the present, and the multimedia guide to the exhibition is nothing short of superb. Download it to iTunes here. Within the material in the guide are performances, archival footage and interviews - one in which Bob Grillo compares the element of the cutaway of the guitar body to being "the greatest invention since spaghetti."
For all the contribution that these instruments and their sometimes famous players made to music, they are truly beautiful creations, and it's no accident that they are on display in the most prestigious art museum in the world. They may not be spaghetti to everybody, but this wonderful collection is certainly a feast for the eyes.
Row 1: Guitar, ca. 1800, Lyreguitar by Genarro Fabricatore 1807- Naples, Maccaferri G-40 Model Headstock- 1943
Row 2: D'Angelico Excel Model Headstock-Mother of Pearl inlay with rare misspelling- 1935- this guitar belonged to Tony Mottola who played in the Tonight Show Band, James D'Aquisto Advance Model Headstock 1994, Monteleone Deco Vox Guitar Headstock 2007.