Art

Sketchbooks
January 20, 2010

The most enduring myth about the Abstract Expressionists is that they were dumb geniuses, instinctual beings, know-nothings who somehow stumbled into

The Smartest Thing I've Read Today
September 16, 2009

Comes from the NYT's Mike Hale: The extended reaction to Mr. West’s deed certainly had something to do with a continuing national conversation about rudeness, whether to presidents, line judges or irritatingly successful country singers.

Wound in the Heart: Yet Another Casualty of the Spanish Civil War
August 20, 2009

 The Spanish Civil War was the iconic international struggle of the thirties. Franco and "los cuatro generales" were the villains. And the Spanish people were the victims. Their songs were our songs, Pete Seeger our medium. We did not travel to Spain; we boycotted Spain. We paid homage to Guernica by visiting Picasso's gruesome mural of that name at MoMA (and hanging posters of the painting in our dorm rooms.) We choked up whenever we saw Robert Capa's famous photograph "Falling Soldier." This was the first war against fascism, and democracy was defeated.

"Falling Soldier": A Different Kind Of Truth?
and
August 19, 2009

Yesterday The New York Times reported the latest in the ongoing debate over Robert Capa's "Falling Soldier," a war photo that has been accused of fabrication almost as much as it has been celebrated. David Thomson weighed in on the controversy in 2003, in a TNR piece called "I Leica Danger": It is possible that, having seen many people shot down and killed, Capa felt an intense urge to "get" such a moment. But then he realized the astonishing luck that this required--unless, truly, he was a camera that could take a picture as he saw a thing.

Generations
August 15, 2009

Picasso: Mosqueteros--Gagosian Gallery Younger Than Jesus--New Museum The Pictures Generation, 1974-1984--Metropolitan Museum of Art Compass in Hand--Museum of Modern Art The exhibition of Picasso's late work at the Gagosian Gallery this spring was a phenomenon. Day after day, Gagosian's huge space on West 21st Street attracted a remarkably heterogeneous public, a mix of artists, art students, Brooklyn hipsters, well-heeled professionals, and European and Asian tourists, gathered together in a way I do not recall seeing before, certainly not in Chelsea. People did not just come and look.

Generations
August 12, 2009

PICASSO: MOSQUETEROS GAGOSIAN GALLERY   YOUNGER THAN JESUS NEW MUSEUM   THE PICTURES GENERATION, 1974-1984 METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART   COMPASS IN HAND MUSEUM OF MODERN ART   The exhibition of Picasso's late work at the Gagosian Gallery this spring was a phenomenon. Day after day, Gagosian's huge space on West 21st Street attracted a remarkably heterogeneous public, a mix of artists, art students, Brooklyn hipsters, well-heeled professionals, and European and Asian tourists, gathered together in a way I do not recall seeing before, certainly not in Chelsea.

The Spiritual In Art
February 18, 2009

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.

Men at Arms
November 13, 2006

These are the first minutes of FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, Clint Eastwood's new film about the battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. When word came of an Eastwood film on this subject, the blood didn't exactly freeze, but it did become tepid. Did the twenty-first century really need another gung-ho tale of World War II? Eastwood's reply is no. His film is crammed with physical horror and courage in crisis, but the intent is not mere replication of battle.

The Varieties of Artistic Experience
October 30, 2006

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.

Mixed Blessings
December 20, 2004

Twenty-five hundred years ago, in Agamemnon, a Greek soldier just returned from the Trojan War described what it was like to be in that siege: We had to camp Close by the enemy's wall, in the wet river-meadows, Soaked with the dew and the mist, ill from the damp clothes, our hair Matted like savages. Aeschylus might have been writing about the trench warfare of World War I. His lines depict the plight of the French troops in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT, except that Aeschylus had not encountered artillery and machine guns.

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