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.
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
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.