D.C. Notes

Random thoughts from a brief visit to the National Gallery of Art last Saturday (3/23/24): The addition and integration of works from the Corcoran Gallery give the National Gallery one of the strongest, if not the strongest, collections of American art in the country. Despite the softening of the auction market for works in this […]

Boston MFA

I’ve always found the MFA to be just about the hardest art museum to navigate. It also used to be the fustiest. On a day visit last week I found numerous design improvements, in line with user-friendly trends; but with many galleries closed for reinstallation or upgrading I was just as confused going from one […]

Homer at the Met

Ever since the George Floyd tragedy, cultural and media institutions have been making up for a century of neglect by spotlighting Black-related art and artists. The relatively staid Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has ridden the wave, first with a new “Afrofuturist” period room, then a dossier exhibition around Why Born Enslaved!, a […]

Art Highlights of 2021

Museum- and gallery-going were necessarily down in 2021, thanks to Covid, but we were fortunate to have our base in New York and family in San Francisco, giving us a chance to catch some of the season’s big shows and rub shoulders with smaller venues along the way.  In retrospect, the year doesn’t look so […]

Philadelphia Museum of Art

I wondered, as I wandered through the many galleries of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, how long will we have this kind of encyclopedic, time-specific museum? Or more to the point, how long will we have them outside New York and a few other world capitals? You have to remember that the encyclopedic museum (EM) […]

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, […]

Claude Monet Considered

For more than 50 years Claude Monet has been one of my favorite artists, but while there are works I like more than others, I had never systematically analyzed his different periods vis-à-vis my taste. Three recent experiences, however, have shown me that I don’t like all Monets and led me to rate the “good” […]

What Is Art?

The age-old, unanswerable question came to mind as I pondered two equally compelling objects on back-to-back days in San Francisco (8/13-14/16). The first was the “strandbeest” at the Exploratorium in an exhibit titled “The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen.” There were actually several on display, including one that was operational. Contraptions made largely of PVC […]

Habsburg Splendor in Atlanta

[fusion_text] I finally caught up with Habsburg Splendor, the touring exhibition that we previewed so memorably with the MIA group in Vienna exactly one year ago, and was hugely disappointed, partly because it paled so in comparison to what we’d seen at the Kunsthistorische but mostly because of the drab display at the High Museum […]

MoMA Revisited

[fusion_text]I will want to examine my perception more closely, but a  cursory visit to New York’s Museum of Modern Art (4/6/15) left me wondering about the disparity in quality between the sixth and fifth floors where the permanent collection is displayed. 1940 is the apparent dividing line between the two. The sixth floor is chock-a-block […]