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 […]

George Caleb Bingham

Looking ahead to the exhibition that will visit the Met this summer, I have just read the catalogue, “Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham & the River” and found it illuminating and crystallizing why I so like Bingham’s work. First, it put his oeuvre in context: one never knows how unique an artist’s vision is, […]

Museum-Goer’s Wish List

A Museum-Goer’s Wish List (in no particular order) [work in process] Nearly every sizeable museum now has a Collections Handbook, a softcover, 2/3-size for $20-something book that illustrates and explicates a selection of highlights, usually one to a page. My wish is that this handbook feature primarily, if not exclusively, works on permanent display. What […]

Rembrandt’s Hands

In honor of the visit by Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait from Kenwood House in London, the Metropolitan Museum in New York has hung a large gallery (614) almost entirely with large portraits by Rembrandt and his followers or workshop (the latter all indubitably purchased by American collectors and donated to the Met as actual “Rembrandts,” only to […]

Islamic Art at the Met

Based on a quick (two-hour) first visit to the new Met galleries devoted to the broadly-defined lands of the Middle East, my favorite object isn’t even in those eleven rooms: it is the painting of a Cairo mosque by Jean-Leon Gerome that is cleverly placed in the adjoining Paintings gallery featuring the Met’s Orientalist collection. […]

The Clock, redux

I caught up with Christian Marclay’s The Clock again this weekend, this time at one of its new permanent homes, Boston’s MFA. The couches were comfy and the exhibition space was off the beaten track; the audience was small but committed and the viewing experience a good one. The second time around, the novelty of […]