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Should Museums Compare and Contrast Cultures?

It seems to be a trend these days for art museums (and some galleries) to mix and match cultures and, sometimes, time periods. Sometimes, this is about breaking down so-called false hierarchies in art history (I do not believe they are always false), sometimes it’s about appealing to new audiences, and sometimes it’s simply about […]

Too Much Contemporary? Too Little What Came Before?

That is a prospect we–American consumers of art exhibitions–face, and it is that subject and its consequences for our culture that I take up in an opinion piece published this morning on Aeon, the digital magazine that covers science, philosophy and society as well as the arts. The headline is Why does contemporary art make […]

Discovery At The National Gallery

While I was in London recently (returning before the latest terror attack, thank God), I stopped in at the National Gallery to see its marvelous exhibition, Michelangelo & Sebastiano, which–for the first time, apparently–united the work of these two artists. Michelangelo helped Sebastiano immensely, giving him ideas and even drawings, at least partly to win him […]

NY Historical Society’s Renovation Opens a Debate

Is more always better? Is it better when it comes to seeing art and artifacts? That’s the question I’ve been pondering since last week, when the New-York Historical Society* opened its new fourth floor. The renovated and recast floor includes a dazzling, two-level display of 100 Tiffany lamps (at left) and a gallery whose exhibitions […]

Max Hollein, Monet And Baseball

When baseball fans go to a game, they usually come prepared: they know the players, their records and their statistics. They know all about batting order strategy. The same for, say, horse-racing–even more so, because good bettors study the odds. But when people go to art museums, they often know nothing in advance–at least nothing […]

It’s A Matter of Taste-And Touch And…

If three, as the old saying goes, makes a trend, the museum world is past that and into institutionalizing the idea of multi-sensory exhibitions. I still would call it a “mini-trend,” though–one that I wrote about for The New York Times in its annual Museums section, published in print today. My article, headlined Drinking In […]

Paint, Hats and Degas–Really?

Today the Saint Louis Art Museum opened a new exhibition called Degas, Impressionism and the Paris Millinery Trade. On the surface, it sounds like one of those cooked-up theses, a mix of fashion with art, to lure people who generally don’t visit art museums into the galleries. A gimmick. Well, probably not. I have not […]

The Fisher Folly: SFMoMA’s Bad Deal

We’ve never known exactly the details of the deal that the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art made in 2009 with the Fisher family to get its collection (better described, actually, as access to the family’s collection–at first for 25 years and later changed to 100 years). And we still don’t. But an article by […]

George Goldner: Nothing If Not Opinionated–And Entertaining

It’s not quite The Car Guys, but an exchange at a recent symposium at the Frick’s Center for the History of Collecting* has tickled a couple of people I know, who mentioned it to me. It’s called Philippe de Montebello Interviews George Goldner and it’s about Golder’s career buying drawings at the Getty and, ahem, the […]

Since We’re Voting, There’s This Artistic Conundrum

Lest you think I have no sense of fun from my last post, which chastised the Indianapolis Museum of Art for outsourcing its exhibition planning to the public, I thought I would mention an instance where I think engaging the public is fine. It has been taking place at the Royal Academy since mid-March, in […]

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