Surrealism Beyond Borders

The Met’s “Surrealism Beyond Borders” is more a show of social and political history than art. Surrealism was an expression of nonconformity, even to the point of rebellion, that artists around the world (defined here as Japan, Mexico, South America and Europe) latched onto, often but not always cognizant of the dicta laid down in […]

Medici Portraits

Aside from the well-known and iconic Bronzino young men from the Frick and the Met and Eleonora and son from the Uffizi, the exhibition of Medici portraits at the Met featured a lot of pedestrian, undistinguished family portraits from a distinctly unfavored era of Art History: Mannerism. Collecting them together brought out what a severe […]

Vermeer Diminished

Just a note of horror that my favorite painting by Vermeer – and thus, one of my favorite paintings of all time – seems to have been, if not ruined, significantly diminished by an act of “restoration.” According to a report in the 9/14/21 New York Times, “After nearly three centuries behind a layer of […]

Frieze LA ’20

The fun of Frieze LA is seeing and be seen, feeling part of the “arts community,” especially if you have a VIP pass, which we’ve had the last two years, thanks to a friend at the Addison Gallery in Andover. The fair is much smaller than Frieze NY, which is in some ways a good […]

Opinions & Observations

Single-artist exhibitions and displays can enhance your appreciation of the artist – or not. The Felix Vallotton show in London (and subsequently at the Met) was a prime example of the former: his work was unfamiliar beforehand; his style developed in interesting ways over his career; and the paintings selected were almost all top-notch and […]

Art in London

I spent a week in London looking at art, revisiting old friends and discovering some new. The Felix Vallotton show at the Royal Academy – coming to the Met later this fall – was a revelation. With only 50 paintings and an approximately equal number of prints, it covered  the Swiss artist’s career coherently and completely. […]

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 […]

Paintings at the Met – 18th Century

613. French Women Best: Marie Denise Villers, Marie Josephine Charlotte du Val d’Ognes (1801). Of all the eyes looking at me in this gallery, hers are the ones that hold me. Light and shadow define the plain dress and spartan room, and we see a courting couple through a broken window pane. The composition is […]