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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."



Anishinaabe artist, possibly Mississauga Ojibwa.Shoulder Bag (missing strap) Ontario, Michigan, or Wisconsin, ca. 1800. Native-tanned leather, porcupine quills, dye, glass beads, silk ribbon, metal cones, and deer hair, 12 × 9 in. (30.5 × 22.9 cm)The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection of Native American Art, Promised Gift of Charles and Valerie Diker (L.2018.35.6)



The Metropolitan Museum of Art wants to re-open for five days a week starting August 29. Whether New York State's governor and New York City's mayor will allow this to happen is still up in the air.  Assuming that this re-opening takes place in 2020, visitors will still be able to see a delicious little long-term installation that I saw in 2018 but that remains on view until at least January 26, 2021.  It is "Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection," and features more than 100 works dating from the 2nd to the early 20th centuries. Represented are more than 50 indigenous traditions from across North America (Canada and the U.S.). Read More 

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Pablo Picasso, "Head of a woman (Fernande)," Horta de Ebro, summer, 1909. Conté crayon and charcoal on wove paper, 62.8 x 48 cm.  Musée national Picasso-Paris, Pablo Picasso Gift in Lieu, 1979, MP 642. Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris)/Art Resource, NY, Matthieu Rabeau © 2020 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The NY Times has also tried to fill its columns with book reviews of current exhibition catalogues.  But the two I've seen (in its May 22 issue), don't in my opinion measure up to the one I've chosen. The Times evidently felt obligated to review the catalogue for the Gerhard Richter show at the Met's Breuer annex (a space now to be taken over by the Frick), plus a Jean-Michel Basquiat show at the MFA Boston.  I decided to leave the fashion-conscious East Coast and head inland to the Cleveland Museum of Art, which knows a true giant when it sees one. It had scheduled a mammoth show of "Picasso and Paper" for May, postponed its opening to September -- and now (alas!) has been forced to postpone its opening indefinitely as European restrictions on travel to and from our plague-ridden republic have made it impossible to bring the show from the U.K. at the present time.. 


Earlier this year (before the lockdown began) this same show opened at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and they still have a virtual tour of it online but for reasons I shall be discussing in the course of this review,I found the large and elegant Picasso catalogue more illuminating and am herewith spending most of this review discussing it (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2020; 325 pp., 376 illus.)  What a joy it is!


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John Finley Walk (in winter)

Like every other publication in town trying to cover the art scene, The New York Times  has been hard-pressed for copy during the pandemic.  I'm unimpressed by most of the solutions it's found, but was very impressed by a weekly series on the city's architectural wonders, chosen by Michael Kimmelman, the paper's architectural critic (and formerly one of its art critics, when he sometimes managed to choose right as well). Read More 

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