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39 posts

Édouard Manet: Portrait of Antonin Proust

Manet: Portraying Life — An Interview with Curator Lawrence W. Nichols


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As I pursued my research into Manet, I discovered that MaryAnne Stevens of the Royal Academy was also planning an exhibit devoted to Manet. That was in 2008 and we decided to work together on a joint exhibition. The two of us showed-up on the doorstep of museums, world-wide, to explain our plans.

Grant Wood: American Gothic

American Mythologies: Grant Wood at the RNC


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But, the painting tells us, to impose order is also to fictionalize, to distort. It’s a good lesson to keep in mind in a season when we are being presented with carefully packaged versions of history, complete with carefully articulated morals.

Writer and art critic Robert Hughes

Remembering Robert Hughes – Re-watching American Visions


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On another note entirely, the eighth and final episode offers the enduring pleasures of Hughes’s prickly encounter with Jeff Koons: “A kitten in a giant sock. Tell me about it.”

A Distant Mirror: Fashion and Identity in Colonial Latin America


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The scene depicted is officially entitled Garden Party on the Terrace of a Country Home, but Tomlinson says it is known behind the scenes as “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll”, as it shows the Beautiful People of colonial Mexico enjoying all the pleasures their world had to offer.

Landscape and Memory: Wildfires Threaten Colorado’s Built Heritage


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As environmental writer Bill McKibben noted on Twitter, the evacuation of the nation’s center for research into global warming in response to a wildfire fueled by drought conditions and an unprecedented heat wave, is “beyond irony.”

The Forgotten Sculpture of John B. Flannagan


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His sculptures, like his wonderful Elephant of 1929-1930, or his Chimpanzee of 1928, were often carved directly from the rock; they are both roughhewn and elegant, radically simple but powerfully emotional, immediately evoking both the natural forms of the stones from which they are made, and the living creatures they represent. It’s sad to think of them languishing in obscurity.

Into the Void: The Bicoastal Legacy of Weldon Kees


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This is very different stuff than the angst of later confessional poets such as Lowell and Plath, whose despair is essentially personal, rooted in disappointment and disillusionment. Kees, by comparison, proposes that this is simply how it is, and does so with enough coolness and elegance that it comes as no surprise that Wallace Stevens wrote to Kees ordering a volume of a limited edition of his verse.

Madness and Mesmerism: Charles Deas Revisited


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Put as simply as possible, Matthews thought he was being tortured and his thoughts disrupted by remote control, via magnetic currents produced by a machine called the “air loom.” Matthew’s “air loom” was operated by a gang of seven: villainous Bill the King, wisecracking Jack the Schoolmaster, crude Sir Archy, the enigmatic Middle Man, scheming Augusta, poor, maltreated Charlotte, and the sinister Glove Woman, the most skilled operator of the machine.

Maryhill Museum of Art, One Hundred Miles East of Portland


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Mannequins in pale satins and gauzy tulle pose in a lofty attic whose roof has been torn open as if by an air raid, revealing a black and white cityscape seen as if from the angle of a pilot.

Stacey Steers’ Night Hunter


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Here, Gish finds herself amidst a riot of Freudian imagery – snakes, earthworms, and phallic blades of grass; mysterious pulsating eggs that seem to ooze blood. Among the few touches of color (added by hand) are splashes of red in Gish’s clothes (and oozing from those eggs). These, along with the old house deep in a tangled wood which forms the setting, evoke Little Red Riding Hood, perhaps the modern world’s favorite fable of sexual awakening and sexual danger.

Badlands Revisited


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Badlands was filmed on location in southern Colorado, and recently I finally made it to Pueblo, Colorado’s Rosemount House Museum, aka the interior of the “rich man’s house.” Fans of Malick’s offbeat, lyrical American aesthetic should find plenty to like there.

Denver’s Camera Obscura Gallery Closes


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In dramatic contrast to the wide-open, sleekly minimalist aesthetic of most modern art galleries, Camera Obscura’s displays rambled through a series of rooms whose uniform coat of white paint barely obscured their past as a Victorian home. It was in this casual, intimate, even cluttered environment that I encountered many of the luminaries of modern photography, such as Edward Weston, Eliot Porter, Imogen Cunningham…

A New Take on “Primitivism”? Man Ray, African Art, and The Modernist Lens


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There are other questions to ask as well. Can this be anything other than two white men reducing the artifacts of a nonwhite culture to the status of props in their cerebral games? In my years as a graduate student, the academic word on artistic primitivism seemed unambiguous. It was straight-up cultural imperialism…

Badlands and Lost Edens: The Photography of Robert Adams


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Adams recorded the ever-expanding suburban sprawl of the 1960s and 1970s, and his haunting, classically composed photos of tract houses and shopping centers engulfing what had been farmland helped define what was dubbed the New Topographics movement after the landmark 1975 exhibition.