John Piper

The PICTURE: Charm School
May 26, 2010

Let’s hear it for charm, an underappreciated quality in the visual arts. If austerity is one of the modern artist’s essential tools, charm also has a distinctive power, although one that’s hardly welcomed by the curators, historians, and critics who shape opinion about modern and contemporary art. Artists risk being overlooked when they emphasize elegant wit, gentle seduction, or beguiling intelligence; they are dismissed as sentimentalists, without the sharp elbows needed to operate effectively in our world.

Pleasing Decay
February 23, 2004

In Ruins By Christopher Woodward (Pantheon Books, 280 pp., $24) Click here to purchase the book. For travelers who have experienced the grandeur and pathos of ruins that were once the glory of ancient Athens or Rome, it comes as a surprise to learn that what we are seeing today are tidied-up--its critics would say sterile--archaeological sites that are only as old as the last century.