California Literary Review

Art

Book Review: The Books that Shaped Art History, Edited by Richard Shone and John-Paul Stonard

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April 18th, 2013

Clark’s The Nude: A Study of Ideal Art received glowing reviews upon its publication in 1956. Among its many virtues, The Nude reasserted the primacy of classical art in the Western world during the dark, drab Cold War era. America’s Abstract Expressionism confronted Soviet Socialist Realism in a long, drawn-out propaganda campaign. Clark showed that there was an alternative to such cultural brinksmanship. Art lovers, tired of ideology, were greatly pleased.

Art Review: Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico, Denver Art Museum

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April 16th, 2013

So many amateur painters have painted the swelling volumes of the church of San Francisco de Asis at Ranchos de Taos, and so many tourists have admired the blue skies and bold colors of northern New Mexico that these things threaten to become visual clichés. One of the virtues of this show’s wealth of katsina images is that they not only highlight what made O’Keeffe’s work distinctive, they also remind us of her place in the larger narrative of twentieth-century American art.

Art Review: “Great and Mighty Things”: Outsider Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art

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March 27th, 2013

And what is true of Blagdon’s poignant attempt to thwart illness and disease is true of the other artists’ work. Outsider Art is not an attempt to evade life but to engage with it, to deal with sorrow, sickness and poverty by affirmations of beauty.

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Art and Design, 1848–1900, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

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March 10th, 2013

The Pre-Raphaelites shared several treasured ideals, but their painting styles varied greatly. The two transcendent themes, especially in their early work, were “truth to nature” and the power of religious faith. They aimed to depict the natural world with great fidelity, while evoking spiritual values as medieval artists had done.

Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

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March 3rd, 2013

Portraits at the Stock Exchange reveals a truth about the age of the Impressionists that often goes unobserved. This period in French history was an age of acute anxiety. It was far from being an era characterized by evening dances at Bougival. Repeatedly, when studying the faces of these sumptuously dressed citizens of the Belle Époque, one catches a glimpse of people acutely aware of the fragile foundations of their civilization.

Art Review: Drawing Surrealism, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York City

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February 5th, 2013

Serious or concerted intellectual effort had no part in the process of creating Surrealist art – at least in theory. Artists were expected to switch-off their ideas about art and just draw.

The Female Gaze and Modern Women at PAFA, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia

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January 22nd, 2013

In Neel’s painting, the sitter’s beauty is not compromised by her pregnant condition and makes no concessions to male desires. Claudia Bach is alive with the promise of new life, which in turn is an expression of her own individuality and of her place in the world.

Art Review: Dana Schutz: If the Face Had Wheels, Denver Art Museum

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December 27th, 2012

Her canvases are vast, and painted in bold swathes of cartoonishly bright colors. The subject matter is intensely physical and often unsettling: bodily functions, explosions of emotion, and sometimes apocalyptic scenes of death and disaster.

Book Review: Titian: His Life by Sheila Hale

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December 12th, 2012

Seeing a paint brush on the floor, the emperor reached down to retrieve it and presented it to the painter. Had Charles bestowed a golden scepter upon Titian, the honor would have been no greater. Artists were still viewed as artisans by most of the nobility of Europe. In sullying his royal hands with a tool of Titian’s trade, Charles paid him the ultimate compliment.

Art Review: Picasso Black and White

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November 26th, 2012

The Guggenheim Museum in New York City is the perfect venue for hosting great chronological exhibitions of art. Ascend the spiraling ramps and you are able to understand the course of an artistic era in its totality or the development of a national school of art, as was the case in the spectacular 2005 presentation of Russian art from its Byzantine-inspired roots to the post-Soviet present. But seldom have a museum and a special exhibition been so perfectly matched as Guggenheim New York and its present show, Picasso Black and White.

Art Review: Becoming Van Gogh, Denver Art Museum

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November 13th, 2012

But it was at that moment that he discovered Japanese prints, rapidly assimilating all he could of a tradition of two-dimensional design defined by line and color, rather than depth and shadow. The compositions of Japanese masters such as Hokusai and Hiroshige seem to have provided Van Gogh with an aesthetic framework, a way of constructing images more congenial to him than the Classical tradition of the west.

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

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November 5th, 2012

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.

Art Review: Graphic Design: Now in Production, The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

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October 19th, 2012

Lovers of advertising, of the internet and interactivity, of reading and the media, sit back and prepare to be amazed; you’re in capable hands here, and this is the good stuff. Graphic Design: Now in Production is a tour de force of some of the boldest graphic design work out there, ranging from 2000 to the present.

Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

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October 11th, 2012

It demonstrates, as few earlier Warhol exhibits have done, the “sensation” that the trend-setting artist created in the 1960’s and 70’s. Love his art or hate it, you cannot dismiss Andy Warhol. He opened our eyes to the realm of modern design. He changed the way we see the world.

Crossing Borders: Manuscripts from the Bodleian Libraries — Jewish Museum of New York

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September 27th, 2012

To look at one of the treasures on display in this wonderful exhibit, the Kennicott Bible, is to view an example of the shared heritage of Jews, Christians and Muslims. This is the key note of Crossing Borders. The Kennicott Bible and the other stunning, hand-written works on display show the “cross-pollination” of art and ideas among the cultured elites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam during the Middle Ages. More to the point, it is a testament to the shared devotion of these three faiths to the same God.

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