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Gauguin. Spirituality and Max Hollein

Most Paul Gauguin exhibitions show him off as a self-described “savage,” that sensualist who abandoned his family in France to canoodle with young Tahitian girls. He did behave badly a lot of the time, even as he was turning out gorgeous paintings. So it was refreshing to see Gauguin: A Spiritual Journey last year at the de […]

How San Antonio Got a Free Scholar’s Rock

One day in December, Katherine Luber, director of the San Antonio Museum of Art, two curators and a museum trustee wandered around a rock yard in China that looked more like a moonscape than a landscape. They were looking for a gift–made by the nearby city of Wuxi, a sister city to San Antonio. Months […]

Get Thee to Cleveland For a Great Show

Lucky Cleveland! Since Nov. 18, residents and visitors to the Cleveland Museum of Art have been able to see six tapestries, woven in the mid 1570s, that have been under wraps, locked away, almost ever since then. For some 100 years, at least, they’ve been in the store rooms of the Uffizi Galery and before […]

The Things You Find Behind Doors, Like A Velazquez

In recent days, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston has rehung a painting called Kitchen Maid (c. 1620) with a new label, “attributed to Velazquez.” The work used to hang in its decorative arts mansion, Rienzi, partially blocked by a door! At that point, it was labeled “in the style of Diego Velázquez.” It […]

Art Reviews–Or Observations–That Go Beyond

People regularly complain that art criticism displays an off-putting insider-y tone, complete with jargon–but that’s not what I am about to talk about here. I’m going to mention a few display touches and the like that I notice, when they are good, at exhibitions that I review but rarely–for space reasons–have the opportunity to write […]

Glenstone: It’s Wonderful, Marvelous. BUT

Glenstone, the private museum owned and operated by Mitchell and Emily Wei Rales, opened to the public on Oct. 4–heralded by a beautifully choreographed  campaign of press. There were preview articles and reviews, accompanied in all likelihood by more to come in other publications. I was one of the lucky one who visited Glenstone, in […]

This May Be the Best Monument to Caesar Augustus

Reputedly, the last public words of Caesar Augustus (63 B.C.-A.D. 14) were “Behold, I found Rome of clay, and leave her to you of marble.” Augustus also left us a magnificent, exquisitely carved cameo whose double-narrative all but deifies him. It is the Gemma Augustea in the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, which […]

Rembrandt: Master Market Manipulator

Rembrandt: Painter as Printmaker, which opened Sept. 16 at the Denver Art Museum, showcases the known glories of his work—but with an eye-opening twist. It displays Rembrandt a master market manipulator, as well as a great artist. We know, but rarely acknowledge in exhibitions, that many great artists were good at business too. Certainly, Renoir […]

Surprising (But Short) Chapter of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Life

Several days ago, I went to the New York Botanical Garden to see its summer exhibition, Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai‘i. It included several paintings I knew nothing about. And, as I soon discovered, from talking with friends and posts on Facebook and Instagram, neither did many other art-lovers. This isn’t all that surprising when you […]

Superlative Numbers At the Met. But Crazy Ones Too

Superlatives are in. Last week, the Metropolitan Museum of Art issued a press release saying it had welcomed its one-millionth visitor to its special Costume Institute exhibition, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination–proclaiming it, weeks before the show closes, “the Costume Institute’s most attended show ever and The Met’s third overall most attended” exhibit. Really? […]

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