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You Can Help Stop Cultural Destruction: Chartres Chapter

Universally recognized as a masterpiece of cultural heritage–inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979–the Cathedral of Our Lady in Chartres is under attack by its would-be restorers. Now maybe you can help stop the dreadful makeover that has been underway for a while. I wrote about this issue, which was ignited by Martin Filler, […]

Common Sense From Gary Vikan

Maybe retirement, if that’s what Gary Vikan–former head of the Walters Art Museum–had entered, loosens inhibitions. Vikan’s editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal may not have been written if he still had the job. It’s headlined The Case for Buying Antiquities to Save Them.  It’s about the unrelenting damage being perpetrated by ISIS, of course. […]

WSJ Masterpiece: The Taj Mahal, As I Saw It

Even if you have never been to the Taj Mahal, you have a picture of it in your mind, right? It’s a full frontal view, and it’s unquestionably beautiful. But there is more to this marvelous, yes, mausoleum, and after going to India last winter, I wanted to say so and explain why. The result […]

Art Review, In Passing, Reveals A Recurring Museum Problem

Aside from what Roberta Smith said in Friday’s New York Times about The Artistic Journey of Yasuo Kuniyoshi, now on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (she called it “superb”), she made a very good general point about American art and museums at the moment. And it’s a bit of a mysterious point, to […]

What If Britain Hadn’t Taken the “Lion Hunt Reliefs”?

Hard as it is to believe, many people visit the British Museum and entirely miss the great seventh-century B.C. Assyrian lion hunt reliefs. I know, not only because some people have written that to me but also because I was one of them. On my first several visits to the BM, I didn’t know they were there. […]

MFA’s Gets A Load of Rothschild Loot

Literally. Bettina Burr (known as Nina, pictured left)–the daughter of Baroness Bettina Looram de Rothschild, who reclaimed about 250 pieces of Nazi-looted art from Austria after it passed a new restitution law in 1998–has donated 186 objects to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The trove, which includes jewelry, jeweled boxes, furniture, prints, drawings, miniatures, […]

The Story Behind LACMA’s Saudi Partnership

Press releases often provoke more questions than they answer. That was certainly the case when one from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art issued one on Jan. 6 about its new collaboration with Saudi Aramco’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture. It said that LACMA and the Center: are pleased to announce that the Center […]

Portland’s Masterworks: Looking Back And Forward

On Saturday, the Portland Art Museum in Oregon opened a new “Masterworks” exhibition, of El Greco’s Holy Family With Saint Mary Magdalen, which is being lent by the Cleveland Museum of Art. It’s the fifth show in this series, and I love the idea of borrowing and focusing attention on one artwork. The El Greco “Masterworks” […]

Restoration Scandal At Chartres Cathedral

Who was it that said one look at Chartres Cathedral turned him into an art historian? Or art-lover for life? Henry Adams? Bernard Berenson? I can’t remember, but it was probably more than one person. Kenneth Clark called it “one of the two most beautiful covered spaces in the world” (Hagia Sophia in Istanbul being […]

Revealed: Roman Hoard, Found In France, Conserved Here

Imagine being a French farmer, plowing your field near a village named Berthouville in rural Normandy; it’s 1830. And you hit something, stop and discover the first items in a trove that grew to 90 silver and gilt-silver statuettes and vessels dating to the 3rd century and before. It happened, and now, after four years […]

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