National Gallery

James Gardner, formerly the architecture critic of the New York Sun, now writes on culture for several publications.  It must be nice to be the president.

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The Restless Medium

Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before By Michael Fried (Yale University Press, 409 pp., $55) I. Michael Fried,who shot to intellectual stardom in 1967 with an essay in Artforum called "Art and Objecthood," is an intimidating writer. He looks very closely. He has passionate feelings about what he sees. And he shapes his impressions into a theory that fits snugly with all the other theories he has ever had. Whatever his chosen subject--Diderot, Courbet, Manet, Kenneth Noland--he comes up with an interpretation that is as smoothly and tightly constructed as a stainless-steel box.

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I Excuse me for noticing, but haven't we been commemorating Columbus's quincentennial in the wrong year? I know that dates and math aren't America's strong suit right now, but it doesn't take advanced calculus to figure that 1492 plus 500 equals 1992. What is it about Columbus that makes for botched commemoration? The Quatercentennial Columbian Exposition opened a year late, in 1893, delayed by the enormous scale of the show and by the protesting groups (yes, even then) who saw themselves more as victims than as beneficiaries of 1492.

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