Jed Perl

Saturnine Magician

Elie Nadelman: Sculptor of Modern Life, Whitney Museum of American Art In the art of Elie Nadelman, sobriety and enchantment are strangely, wonderfully entangled. Nadelman, who died in 1946 at the age of sixty-four, gave sculpture’s ancient mandate to turn real space into dream space a modern vehemence and an adamantine logic, but also a flash of what-the-hell insouciance.


Everyday Symbolist

Èdouard Vuillard: Post-Impressionist Master (National Gallery of Art; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts) Symbolism, an apotheosis of personal expression that swept through all the arts at the end of the nineteenth century, marked Europe’s final break with the classical humanism of the Renaissance. The struggles for romantic independence that had animated artists, writers, and musicians in France, Germany, and England for more than a hundred years emboldened the Symbolists to follow their sensations wherever they might lead.


Hash of the Titans

"Matisse Picasso," the exhibition that has now arrived at the Museum of Modern Art after packing in the crowds at Tate Modern in London and the Grand Palais in Paris, begins as a sort of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for culture vultures, a study in male bonding in the artistic stratosphere that features the somewhat older, more formal Matisse and the younger, unabashedly bohemian Picasso. Later on, when the show really gets going, museumgoers are supposed to be agog at what amounts to a clash of the titans with avant-gardist sparks flying, a High Modernist love-hate-love kind of thing.


Circa 1950

If you take a close look at just about any period in the history of art, you will find an almost bewildering array of different styles or modes or manners flourishing simultaneously, and the middle of the twentieth century, the time that is in many respects the prologue to the time in which we live, is no exception.


Jed Perl on Art: Bookings

I. Picture books are the first books that any of us know. Before we can decode words or even letters, we are clutching their covers and awkwardly turning their pages. These books are our introduction to the mysteries of metaphor, to a combination of paper and printer's ink that can take us anywhere, reveal anything, whether fact or fiction or some mix of the two. You might say that picture books, even when we are too young actually to read them, are our primal reading experiences.


"Thomas Eakins: American Realist," at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is a blandly celebratory event.


Donald Judd had his share of staunch supporters. But you are likely to meet with skeptical responses if you announce that you are captivated by his magnum opus, a composition consisting of one hundred aluminum boxes that is the linchpin of the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas. Chinati is where the sculptor made a permanent home for the frequently large-scale work that interested him and some of the contemporary artists whom he admired. It has an eccentric, off-the-beaten-track kind of grandeur that rubs some people the wrong way. The austere forms that Judd (who died in 1994) arranged in and


Eggs a la Nabocoque

Step into room 316 of the 42nd Street library any day of the week and you will find a dozen or more people slowly making their way through "Nabokov Under Glass," a salute to the writer, who was born 100 years ago, on April 23, 1899. Nabokov enthusiasts are a varied lot--including the young and the old, the straitlaced and the very casually dressed--but I expect that they are all mesmerized, as I am, by a show of rare books and manuscripts that makes them laugh out loud.


Jed Perl praises the works of book illustrator Maurice Sendak, who died on March 8, 2012.