Jed Perl

L.A. Stories

Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture -- J. Paul Getty Museum Hearst The Collector -- Los Angeles County Museum of Art Dialogue Among Giants: Carleton Watkins and the Rise of Photography in California -- J. Paul Getty Museum Back when I was in college, there was a theory that the way to get a sense of how somebody felt deep inside was to ask whether they preferred Tolstoy or Dostoevsky. The friend who was drawn to the ecstatic optimism of certain moments in War and Peace was one kind of person, and the friend who was consumed by the darkness of Crime and Punishment was another.


The Spiritual In Art

Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater Jewish Museum Mystic Masque: Semblance and Reality In Georges Rouault McMullen Museum  I. THE WHEEL OF fashion, which turned Marc Chagall and Georges Rouault into has-beens a few decades ago, is turning again. These two misunderstood moderns are being taken seriously. The rise of identity politics in the intellectual world has certainly played a part.


Private Lives

'Giorgio Morandi, 1890-1964' -- Metropolitan Museum of Art 'Joan Miró: Painting and Anti-Painting 1927-1937' -- Museum of Modern Art 'Mary Heilmann: To Be Someone' -- New Museum 'Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton' -- New Museum 'Douglas Blau' -- Institute of Contemporary Art I. What will be the impact of the financial crisis on artists, galleries, and auction houses?


Half Tame

The time has come to take a fresh look at the achievement of Roger Shattuck, who died in 2005 at the age of eighty-two. From his first book, The Banquet Years, published exactly half a century ago, to his last major work, Forbidden Knowledge, Shattuck was one of America's most adventuresome students of modernity, at once a celebrant of some of the wildest reaches of artistic experiment and a critic of the twentieth century's dream of unlimited, ever- expanding horizons.


Alfred Kazin: A Biography By Richard M. Cook (Yale University Press, 452 pp., $35) I. Alfred Kazin had one great, abiding subject. He wanted to tell the world what it felt like to become a writer in mid-century America. In three autobiographical volumes published over a period of a quartercentury, he dug so deep into his own life story, which had begun in hardscrabble Brooklyn and climaxed in the glamorous Manhattan of the 1960s, that he managed to tell the story of an entire generation.


The Language of Forms: Lectures on Insular Manuscript Art By Meyer Schapiro (Pierpont Morgan Library) Romanesque Architectural Sculpture By Meyer Schapiro (University of Chicago Press) I. When Meyer Schapiro died ten years ago, at the age of ninety-one, he had a place in American intellectual life that was extraordinarily large and also rather mysterious. Quite a few of the people who mentioned his name with a quickening excitement, a catch in their voices, had probably not read a single one of the exacting essays about medieval art on which his scholarly reputation rested.


Arrivederci MoMA

 I. THERE IS A PARADOX AT THE heart of any cultural institution. It is that the men and women who dedicate themselves to these essential enterprises exert a fiscal and administrative discipline that has nothing whatsoever to do with the discipline of art, which is a disciplined abandon. I imagine that for anybody who founds or sustains or rescues or re-invents a museum, an orchestra, or a dance company, this tension between the institution and the art comes to feel like a natural paradox. There is always a balancing act involved, which helps to explain why the very greatest institution-builder


Utopian Designs

The decorative arts have always been art history's attractive orphans. While many people have a great affection for certain textiles or ceramics, the scholarly world embraces such objects only fitfully, as if they were really somebody else's responsibility. And much of the attention that is given to the decorative arts—in the shelter magazines, in the auction catalogues, and in specialized studies of rococo hardware or medieval ceramic tiles—has an edge about it, a feverishness that can suggest overcompensation and even overkill.


Seurat's Sight

I. SEURAT AND THE MAKING OF LA GRANDE JATTE (Art Institute of Chicago) We do not need an artist to show us the intensity of a color, the grace of a line, or the vehement contrast between a light form and a dark form. There are powers that are inherent in color, line, and form--powers that we register immediately, almost unthinkingly, as we regard the world around us. Great painters and sculptors tap into these pre-artistic experiences of sight.


Beyond Belief

I.  “TRASH” ACCORDING TO Sabine Folie, chief curator at the Kunsthalle in Vienna, “has become a transc end ental necessity.” Folie, about whom I know nothing other than her absolutely perfect name, is writing in the catalogue of “‘Dear Painter, Paint me...,’” an exhibition that recently toured Europe and included work by John Currin, the fly speck of a painter who has been stuck in many a New Yorker’s eye since his mid-career retrospective opened at the Whitney Museum in November.