Seeing the Northern Renaissance through Contemporary Eyes

Located between The Met’s hall of medieval sculpture evoking a majestic cathedral and the open atrium of early modern art is a bridge between two worlds. Relative Values: The Cost of Art in the Northern Renaissance, is a pithy exhibition of sixty-three works dating from the sixteenth century and displayed on stark metal screens like those used in modern cold storage facilities, in vividly colored cases, and accompanied with labels that denote the objects’ values on the 16th-century market. Visually, the exhibition marks a departure from other Renaissance exhibitions curated by the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, which often evoke a sense of place by dressing the galleries in sixteenth-century decor. In a sense, the intention here is reversed: rather than send viewers back in time, the objects are brought forward to today.