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A Little Masterpiece in Central Asia

There are many reasons to visit Uzbekistan, which I did last fall. As usual, I brought back a Masterpiece column for The Wall Street Journal. It describes and explains the Samanid Mausoleum in Bukhara. The little structure not only survived the 13th Century marauder Ghengis Khan but also many earthquakes and other natural shifts: now […]

Egypt: Breaking New Ground–Underwater

Like Gold, Picasso and Impressionism, Egypt has generally been a sure-fire subject for art museums. But, you may think, you know the story–basically. An exhibit at the St. Louis Art Museum will make you think again. Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds, a traveling show that has previously been shown at the British Museum, in Paris and […]

More On That Revolutionary Art: Unscrolled

As I mentioned yesterday, the soon-to-open Museum of the American Revolution will hang a copy of Louis Charles-Auguste Couder’s Siege of Yorktown (1781). It hangs in the Hall of the Battles at Versailles. The copy, I’ve now learned–from an advance of a press release that will be issued on Friday–“is believed to have been painted by artist […]

Antiquities and ISIS: Something Doesn’t Add Up

I care deeply about cultural heritage, and have spent much time over the last year agonizing about the destruction caused by ISIS in the Middle East. The last thing I want is for ISIS to make money on stolen antiquities or, worse in my opinion (though not of others), blow them up completely. The ultimate […]

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, […]

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