The Renaissance Nude

A major museum exhibition can have two justifications: it can make a novel or interesting point, or argument; or it can present great, or at least interesting, objects. By those measures, The Renaissance Nude at the Getty Center was a disappointment. If there was a point, it was hardly novel or coherent. Despite social inhibitions, […]

American Masterpieces

At some point you go to so many museums it loses the thrill, and you wonder if you’re going just because it’s there and it’s a comfortable habit. In the span of a month, I went to the National Gallery, the Phillips Collection and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and Portrait Gallery in Washington; […]

Corot: Women

Two questions came to mind as I wandered through Corot Women at the National Gallery of Art: how many variations are there on the word “melancholy,” and is it acceptable to judge a work of art on the attractiveness of the model depicted? Of the 44 paintings in the show, spanning the half-century 1826-1874, more […]

Delacroix at the Met

Seeing 150 works in the Met’s first-ever-in-North-America retrospective of Eugene Delacroix I came to the conclusion that he was a one-trick pony. There was little or no development or change detectable from his first works, which were revolutionary in the 1820s, to his last and worst in the ’50s. The trick, so to speak, was […]

Truth and Beauty

Kudos to the organizers of this exhibition for using major international loans to make an art-historical point. It’s one thing to say that Britain’s Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was inspired by certain Renaissance artists; it’s quite another to show their work cheek-by-jowl with actual paintings they would have known in London in the 1850s. The most telling […]