Art

The PICTURE: Ab Ex Nixed
September 29, 2010

“Abstract Expressionist New York,” the huge new exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, is three-quarters brain dead. That is better than entirely brain dead. My advice is to begin with the strongest material, which you will find in galleries on the second and third floors at MoMA. Walking through “Rock Paper Scissors” and “’Ideas Not Theories’: Artists and The Club, 1942–1962”—with their excitable mix of works in multiple media by midcentury painters, sculptors, and architects—you can feel the gritty romantic spirit of downtown Manhattan in the years during and after World War II.

The PICTURE: Midcult Revisited
August 03, 2010

Nobody talks about “midcult” anymore. I wonder how many people are even aware of this nifty coinage. I like the clipped sound of those two syllables locked together, the efficiency with which “middle” and “culture” have been shortened, abbreviated, then spliced together. Dwight Macdonald tossed midcult into the intellectual playground with his 1961 essay, “Masscult and Midcult,” originally published as a pamphlet by Partisan Review. And whatever the strengths and the weaknesses of that long, elaborate essay, the word has its own kind of mid-twentieth-century fascination.

The Modern High-Wire
June 18, 2010

Circus: The Photographs of Frederick W. Glasier is one of the most beautiful art books of recent years. The reproductions—large and lucid and presente

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?
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.

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