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A Good Show Spoiled

With the weather in New York still fine--and warmish--on Saturday, I ventured up to the New York Botanical Garden for FRIDA: Art, Garden, Life, one of the Garden's hybrid exhibitions that combines plants and paintings. This one, much like the Garden's 2012 exhibition titled Monet's Garden, offers about a dozen works of art, exhibited in the library building. Many more specimens of the plants Kahlo grew at her home, Casa Azul, on the outskirts of Mexico City, are there in the Garden's Conservatory. The show went on view on May 16 and remains … [Read more...]

A Delectable Selection of Native American Art, With Just One Problem

If you read my last post, about thematic exhibition cooperation among museums, you know I was in Santa Fe recently. But why was I in Santa Fe--that's another story, one that resulted in a review published in The Wall Street Journal last Thursday. It was about an exhibition at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian titled Connoisseurship and Good Pie: Ted Coe and Collecting Native Art. I liked the contents of the exhibition: Coe, educated as an art historian of European art who once worked with the great Sir John Pope-Hennesy, trained … [Read more...]

The Shocking Cooper Hewitt, Part Two

Aside from the maltreatment of its beautiful historic building, which I wrote about here nearly three weeks ago, something else is deeply wrong with the new incarnation of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum: the display and the contextualization of the objects in the displays simply don't measure up to minimal standards. To be sure, visually they are often attractive. But frequently they are very dumbed down, witless and perhaps even misleading. I think the museum's leadership meant well; I really do. But I think they misjudged their … [Read more...]

First Thoughts On the New Whitney

After visiting the new Whitney Museum twice, for a total of about five hours, I've come to some tentative conclusions--first and foremost, that it's a successful building for art, which always be the prime goal of an art museum. I went into this blog's archives to see what I thought when I first saw the plans--in 2011, at the groundbreaking ceremony. I recall a lot of negativity at the time, but I disagreed: ...I may rue this day, but I’m going out on a limb regarding the architecture: Piano’s design, based on the drawings and sketches I’ve … [Read more...]

International Pop, World Pop, And Don’t Forget German Pop

In today's Arts & Leisure section of The New York Times,  the Walker Art Center's new International Pop exhibit gets a good curtain-raiser. Randy Kennedy makes its case "not only that Pop was sprouting in countless homegrown versions around the world but also that the term itself has become too narrow to encompass the revolution in thinking it represented for a generation of artists." Pop was not, in other words, just an American invention with "a British offshoot." And this is the year, it seems, for that subject--the article also … [Read more...]

A Giant Step Forward At The Met

When I visited The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky at the Metropolitan Museum on Saturday afternoon, I was prepared to be delighted--and I was, in more ways than one. The Nelson-Atkins Museum, which co-curated the show with the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris, had primed me for how beautiful it was going to be, sending along the catalogue as evidence when the show opened in Kansas City last fall. At the Met, the exhibit lived up to my great expectations. So many of these objects are stunningly beautiful. But from the very first … [Read more...]

Exhibitions To See This Spring

As usual for the past few years, I also compiled a list of about 30 exhibitions at museums around the country that are on view now or will be on view this spring and summer for The New York Times's Museums special section. That's not so easy. I look at hundreds of exhibition descriptions and images, and I strive to choose a balance to appeal to many tastes. So there's always a mix of Old Masters (though few this year), 19th Century European, American, Asian and modern and contemporary art. Sometime I throw in a manuscript exhibit if there's … [Read more...]

Why Otis Kaye?

Last week, The Wall Street Journal published my review of a little show up at the New Britain Museum of American Art: paintings by Otis Kaye. Kaye (1885-1974) is not very well known--in fact, that's how I began my review. I commend the New Britain museum for taking the show, which was organized, oddly enough, by James M. Bradburne, the departing director of the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. Bradburne had learned of Kaye when the Palazzo Strozzi presented Art and Illusion, a survey of trompe l'oeil from antiquity to the present, in 2009 (which … [Read more...]

“Provocative Intervention” In Dulwich’s Galleries

The other day, the Dulwich Picture Gallery announced a 2015 program with "an intervention in the Gallery’s permanent collection offering a provocative challenge to the public." And what could that be? Rather provocatively, it's an exhibition called Made in China, and it's described this way in the press release, as ...a unique intervention that questions the significance and value of the ‘original’ work of art. ‘Made in China: A Doug Fishbone Project’ (10 February–26 July 2015), will see one of the paintings in Dulwich’s collection removed … [Read more...]

Picturing Mary: It Could Have Gone Another Way

Is there a woman who was painted more frequently in all of Western art than Mary? If so, I don't know of her. So many great artists painted her, in many situations, poses, costumes and guises. That was the rich territory the National Museum of Women in the Arts chose to explore in its current exhibition, Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea. And although it's not the show I conjured in my mind when I heard the title--a Leonardo side-by-side with a Raphael, a Michelangelo, a Fra Angelico, a Bellini, a Titian, and so on--it's a mind-stretching … [Read more...]

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