Art & Design

97 posts

Paul Bril’s Restored Paintings in the San Silvestro Chapel at Rome’s Sancta Sanctorum

Born in Antwerp in 1554, Bril was working in Italy at the end of the century, where his landscapes marked the transition between what Paolucci called the “autumn of Mannerism” of the Renaissance and the birth of the Baroque style. The change was enormous, and Bril is acknowledged as among its authors.

Directions: John Gerrard at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC

So what are today’s landscape artists telling us? In his eponymous show at the Hirshhorn, John Gerrard presents us with scenery that reflects a very different view of America. Rather than inspire us, the Irish artist constructs images that fill us with anxiety, hopelessness and a sense of imminent disaster. And we can’t look away.

Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The people of that ancient nation had been decimated in the opening genocide of modern times, victims of Turkish aggression during the First World War. “Who now remembers the Armenians?” Adolf Hitler exclaimed, as he and his Nazi lieutenants planned the Final Solution. The answer can be found lining the walls of the masterful exhibition in Philadelphia. Arshile Gorky remembered. “I shall resurrect Armenia with my brush,” Gorky declared in 1944, “for all the world to see.”

Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort at The National Museum of the American Indian

The first piece you see upon entering is Shapeshifter (2000), an enormous, abstracted whale skeleton built entirely out of white plastic chairs. Jungen’s leviathan is hung in front of a simple black wall and the contrast of colors intensifies its extraordinary power. Shapeshifter has the pristine, flawless texture of a mass produced object, yet somehow feels organic. You can easily imagine the enormous tale with its graceful, individually-carved vertebrae swinging to life.

The Barnes Foundation: Beauty Surrounded by Controversy

And what a treasure trove! By the time of his death in 1951, Barnes had purchased 181 works by Renoir, 69 by Cezanne, 7 Van Gogh paintings, 59 works by Matisse, 11 by Degas, 16 by Modigliani, 46 Picasso’s, with 4 apiece by Manet and Monet. He also collected modern American works by William Glackens, Charles Demuth and Maurice and Charles Prendergast. His eclectic tastes extended to African sculptures, European decorative art, American folk art and quirky curiosities like an American Civil War surgeon’s saw.

A New Look at Rome’s Rousing Middle Ages

When its doors first opened in 1734, the Capitoline Museum, which stands upon the hilltop that is the very heart of Rome, was one of the first European public museums and a favorite haunt of the wealthy Grand Tourists from all over Europe. As of July 30 this venerable museum offers something novel to all tourists—a chance for a fresh look at a relatively neglected period of Roman history and the arts, the Middle Ages.

Francis Alÿs: Fabiola at the National Portrait Gallery, London

Perhaps what fascinated him about these portraits was that they show this urge to create and to communicate through art. More though, Alÿs’ display highlights the ways in which art inhabits a space of its own – outside of museums and critical appraisal. The works he has collected pay homage to the fact that it can be made anywhere, by anyone. The art changes and becomes personalized as it is interpreted and lived by individuals

Cézanne and Beyond at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Matisse, in an essay written many years later for another Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition, appraised the new approach to art that Cézanne had bequeathed to him and other leading spirits of Modernism. “There is an inherent truth which must be disengaged from the outward appearance of the object to be represented,” Matisse wrote. “This is the only truth that matters …. Exactitude is not truth.”

Rodchenko & Popova: Defining Constructivism, at the Tate Modern, London

In 1921, the Constructivists announced the end of painting. To mark its passing they held the exhibition ‘5 x 5 = 25’ and declared that they would now only make art for everyday life; Productivism. The Tate has devoted a room to this last exhibition of painting, the highlight of which has to be Rodchenko’s ‘Pure Red Colour, Pure Yellow Colour, Pure Blue Colour’ (1921).

Celebrating Galileo in Florence

2009 is officially “The Year of Astronomy,” commemorating Galilei’s first observation of the Moon through his telescope in November of 1609. Born in Pisa, Galileo Galilei worked in Florence, where the fourth centennial of his discovery is being celebrated with a stunning and sophisticated exhibition which took four years to prepare.