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Matisse Cut-Outs, Records, And Making Art Seem Scarce


Back in late June, the Museum of Modern Art bought a quarter-page ad on page 2 of the Weekend section of The New York Times; it ran the full length of the left edge. It caught my eye because it announced that timed tickets were on sale as of that day for Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, which opens on Oct. 12. The ad did not, btw, list prices for the tickets -- just the web address for purchases -- but MoMA simply charges general admission for exhibitions, with no added tab. General adult admission is $25. At the time, I thought it was a bit … [Read more...]

Answer to the Ever-Present False Dichotomy About Museums


It's very trendy these days to insist that museums should be visitor-centered, not art-centered. Most recently, I was called on the carpet yet again for suggesting that art comes first, but not just that; in fact, someone I do not know accused me a restarting the culture wars when I wrote here about the Portland Art Museum's Parklandia. The blog post was called "The Value of Museum Selfies." I'm not going to provide the link, partly because the writer misconstrues and mixes up ideas illogically and uses as justification for selfies that they … [Read more...]

What’s New About the New Greek Galleries at MFA?


Do people learn more at art museums when chronology governs a display or when a thematic narrative rules? It's a perennial question, and traditionally many museums with extensive collections answer it with the former because, with a broad, deep array of art in a particular category, they can. Less well-endowed collections have often gone the thematic route simply because they can't do a civilization or a period justice with their skimpy (or gap-filled) holdings. But not always. Lately more museums are going narrative because they thing … [Read more...]

Crystal Bridges: The Anti-Whitney-Biennial


Saturday is the day. That's when the art world, which has been wondering what Don Bacigalupi, president of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and assistant curator Chad Alligood have been seeing for the better part of 2013 and much of 2014 on their search for underappreciated artists, will find out. That's when the museum unveils State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now -- their selections. It is definitely an unconventional ride through art in America. I say that even though I haven't seen the show, though the press preview was … [Read more...]

And Now: The Answers To Who Said That


In my last post, I provided some quotes, thanks to Artspace, that could be attributed to four important critics as a back-to-school time test. And here are the answers: Clement Greenberg “I would not deny being one of those critics who educate themselves in public.” “Everyone dislikes technical criticism of painting; and there’s no other decent kind. What’s wanted is horseshit. And the horseshit is so easy to write brilliantly, but I shan’t.” Harold Rosenberg “The new American painting is not ‘pure’ art, since the extrusion of … [Read more...]

Is It Time To Break Up Overcrowded Museums?


Hrag Vartanian, whom you may know as the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic, had a very interesting opinion piece published on Al Jazeera America the other day. The headline was Break up the major museums to save them, with a deck saying "August institutions should build more outposts rather than cloister themselves in big cities."  Quite a proposal. His thoughts seem to have been triggered by attendance at the Louvre (12 million a year by 2025), and the experiences of many museum-goers -- who can barely get near the art because … [Read more...]

Good News From The Middle East


I'm still catching up with news that occurred while I was away on vacation, and since this qualifies and it happened in the hapless Middle East, I thought I'd report it: in mid-August, it seems, the Iraqi National Museum reopened two renovated halls that display ancient sculptures. Mainly life-sized ones, according to a report by the Associated Press. It said that the new galleries "feature more than 500 artifacts that mainly date back to the Hellenistic period (312-139 B.C.), some of which were retrieved and renovated after the looting of … [Read more...]

The Importance Of Having A Watchdog – UPDATED


The Asheville Art Museum seems to have a watchdog on its tail, probably in a good way -- in fact, in a way such that it makes me wonder if, say, the Corcoran Gallery of Art might have survived as it was had it had someone similarly watching its every move. In Asheville, the watchdog is a man named Ken Michalove, the former mayor and city manager.  He says the museum "is headed for bankruptcy unless it ramps up its own fundraising, sticks to its original goals and stops trying to adjust its game plan and financial reports so as to qualify for … [Read more...]

Is This A “New” Piero della Franscesca? (Corrected)


"New" works by Old Masters turn up all the time in places like Italy -- especially Italian churches. So it's not surprising perhaps that one of the latest discoveries took place in St. Anthony the Abbott Church in San Polo. There, a fresco -- some art historians say -- is at least partly by the hand of Piero della Francesca. San Polo is about a 165 miles to the north and west of  in the hills just above Arezzo, where Piero created his famous Legend of the True Cross frescoes. A few weeks back, the Italian press published articles, including … [Read more...]

I’m Away…

I'm taking a vacation, back just after Labor Day. … [Read more...]

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