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Report from the Front

Art criticism, sometimes with context, occasional politics. New shows: "events;" how to support the online edition: "works."


Us, Them and A Fly on the Wall



[Every once in a long while, I find it impossible to focus on the art scene, and feel the need to talk about politics. This is such an occasion.  I offer it in the hope that it won't offend either my more liberal or my more conservative art-loving readers.]


Page One headline of the New York Times, Sunday January 6: "In Retreat. Populism Hardens its Us-vs.-Them Attack on Liberals."  Page One for the Times's "Week in Review" (same day) has a similar headline: "The People vs. Donald J. Trump," above an op-ed column by David Leonhardt. Read More 

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Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch, Leiden 1606–1669 Amsterdam). Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, 1653. Oil on canvas, 56 1/2 x 53 3/4 in. (143.5 x 136.5 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, special contributions and funds given or bequeathed by friends of the Museum, 1961 (61.198)


It's no secret that 17th century Dutch painting is one of the glories of art history, nor are those New Yorkers who care about it unaware that The Metropolitan Museum of Art  has an excellent collection of it – excellent in both quality and quantity.  For some time now most of these paintings have been out of sight due to renovations of its gallery space.  Now the the Met is staging "In Praise of Painting: Dutch Masterpieces at the Met,"  which is, in fact, only a rehanging of 65 works in its permanent collection (through October 4, 2020). Read More 

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Ronnie Landfield, Lady Grey, 1971.  Acrylic on canvas, 90 x 52 1/2 inches.



Maybe some of my readers have never heard of The Art Students League of New York, founded in 1875, but it's that rare institution where teachers teach and students learn -- all without enrollling in courses, taking exams and receiving degrees.  Such a setup seems to suit artists  fine, so over the years, the League has attracted a remarkable body of teachers & students  Many of these were included in three recent shows that I truly wish I had gotten around to writing about while they were still up. Read More 

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Franz Marc (1880–1916), The Yellow Cow, 1911. Oil on canvas. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection.



"Mac and Mark" is the sacrilegious way I refer to two excellent painters associated with German Expressionism, Franz Marc (1880-1916) and August Macke (1887-1914). Together with Wassily Kandinsky, Gabrielle Münter, and other German and émigré artists based in & around Munich, these two Germans formed the group that exhibited in 1911 and 1912 under the name of Der Blaue Reiter, and published Der Blaue Reiter Almanac in 1912.  Both Marc and Macke – good friends with each other -- were killed in action during World War I, so to commemorate these promising careers cut short by forces beyond their control, the Neue Galerie is staging a highly colorful and engaging show, "Franz Marc and August Macke: 1909-1914"  (through January 21). Read More 

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Khachkar. Lori Berd, 12th–13th century. Basalt. 72 × 383⁄4 × 9 in. (182.9 × 98.4 × 22.9 cm). History Museum of Armenia, Yerevan Photo: Hrair Hawk Khatcherian and Lilit Khachatryan.

First the Virgin Mary, at the Frick. Now a cross, the symbol of the Crucifixion, to illustrate my review of "Armenia!" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (through January 13). But can I help it if art made way back in the Middle Ages still has the mysterious power to enchant us, and if the art which has survived since then is mostly religious?

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