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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."



Francisco de Goya (1746 -1828), "Monks Reading," ca. 1812-20. Brush and brown wash, 7 15/16 x 5 1/2 inches (20.2 x 14 cm.).  (c) Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.  Photography by Herbert Boswank.

J. Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913), the financier, loved works on paper.  As early as 1890 he was already collecting illuminated, historical and literary manuscripts, early printed books and Old Master drawings and prints in his home on Lower Madison Avenue.  His son, J. Pierpont Morgan, Jr. (1867-1943) turned that home into a public institution in 1924, but neither he nor any of his successors have much altered the basic emphasis of the Morgan Library and Museum from historical works on paper. 


Sad to say, in recent years the museum seems to have felt obliged to display a small amount of typically execrable postmodernist work, but the two special exhibitions currently on view are both historical and excellent. The first is "Van Eyck to Mondrian: 300 Years of Collecting in Dresden" and the second is "Imperial Splendor: The Art of the Book in the Holy Roman Empire, ca. 800- 1500" (both through January 23, 2022). Read More 

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"London's New Scene: Art and Culture in the 1960s," by Lisa Tickner (published in London in 2020 by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, distributed in the U.S. by Yale University Press)


This year, as always, the College Art Association held a Book & Trade Fair during its annual conference in February – but of course this year it was all different, i.e. everything was virtual.   Convention "goers" simply paid their entrance fees and zoomed into the book-and-trade-fair display at the CAA website on their computers. Companies with products to sell to artists and art historians set up separate "booths" and displayed their wares – or at least (in the case of artists' materials suppliers, like Golden Artist Colors) mainly reminded convention "goers" of their existence. Read More 

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Goya (Francisco de Goya y Lucientes) (Spanish, 1746–1828). Plate 42 from Los Caprichos: Thou who canst not (Tu que no puedes.), 1799. Etching, burnished aquatint, Sheet 11 5/8 × 8 1/4 in. (29.5 × 21 cm); plate 8 1/2 × 5 7/8 in. (21.5 × 15 cm).The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of M.
Knoedler & Co., 1918 (18.64[42])



"There's no question in my mind but that Goya's "Third of May" is better than anything Pollock could paint," Clement Greenberg told a Bennington seminar in 1971. It's unlikely New York will get to see a full-dress retrospective of Francisco Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) any time soon, with or without "The Third of May.".  But we do have another way of celebrating that Spanish master, with "Goya's Graphic Imagination,"  a wickedly handsome show of about 50 prints and about 50 drawings, on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (through May 2). True, most of these works on paper are from the Met's own extensive collection, but the show also includes some memorable loans. Even more importantly, it highlights an aspect of the master that is often overlooked. Read More 

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Robert Longo (American, born 1953). Untitled (Bullet Hole in Window, January 7, 2015), 2015—16. Charcoal on mounted paper, 76 x 143 in. (193 x 363.2 cm). © Robert Longo, Ståhl Collection Norrköping, Sweden. (Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac; London, Paris, Salzburg).
Am I the only person who has OD’d on politics this season? Even if you are one, too, occasionally politics and esthetics harmonize, as is (largely if not entirely) the case at The Brooklyn Museum this fall, where the show is “Proof: Francisco Goya, Sergei Eisenstein, Robert Longo” (through January 7). Read More 
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Francisco Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746-1828). Witches' Sabbath, 1797-1798. Oil on canvas, 43.5 x 30.5 cm (17 x 12 in.). Lent by Fundación Lázaro, Galdiano, Madrid.
In December, I visited Boston for two good reasons: to see the Goya exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, and to see what Renzo Piano hath wrought, in his redesign of three Harvard museums. I’m sorry that I’m not reporting on my visit earlier, because the Goya show will only be  Read More 
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Should you be in the mood for looking at art over the holiday weekend, here are three shows that I can highly recommend --- or rather, one show and two half-shows.

The one show that I can unqualifiedly recommend is “Jules Olitski & Anthony Caro: Making Art as Naked as Possible, 1964-1978” at  Read More 
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