April 27, 2015 |
There will be four venues in the coming year for the exhibition Coney Island: Visions of An American Dreamland, 1861 - 2008. Would that there were forty more so that everyone within earshot of a carnival barker's cry could gaze at this mirror of our nation at moral, aesthetic, and economic leisure over a century and a half. From its first stop, at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, where Robin Jaffee Frank, prime mover of the exhibition, is chief curator, to its last in San Antonio, the exhibition's 140 objects offer what Frank describes as a "touchstone for complex ideas about the American dream." And it is not all Weegee and freaks and funny rides by a long shot. Sanford Robinson Gifford's 1866 The Beach at Coney Island, among the first depictions of the sandy spit of land, is a dreamlike respite with just a touch of the coming carnival in the distance. From this and a few other early seaside scenes the exhibition moves almost as ra…» More
March 31, 2015 | The divide between “pure” art (painting and sculpture mostly) and functional art (lighting, ceramics, furniture, and so much else) comes and goes in history depending on who has the power to enforce its shaky distinctions. Just now the contemporary art market tilts toward the healthy side of the issue: a table by Urs Fischer, for instance, is a work of art that functions as a table. No questions asked.
It was not always so, and I like to think that the rising appreciation of the arts and crafts movement did more than its share to reunite artist and craftsman in our eyes. But it took a while. When I happened upon Robert Judson Clark’s exhibition of American arts and crafts objects in 1972 at Princeton University it was a surprise and a revelation. Abstract expressionism and pop art were art. Craft was not. A certain sniffiness about the latter lingered in the decades to come. We are long past that point now, as you will see in Rachel Delphia’s superb article on a private collec…» More
March 16, 2015 | Recent noteworthy publications that are a pleasure to read and a delight to behold
French Art Deco by Jared Goss (Metropolitan Museum of Art, distr. Yale University Press). 280 pp., color and b/w illus.
As an artistic term, art deco is one of the most misunderstood. “Art Deco is commonly referred to as a ‘style,’ a designation that suggests specific shared characteristics,” observes scholar and former Metropolitan Museum of Art associate curator Jared Goss. “The diversity of expression, however, precludes conceptual unity. More accurate, perhaps, would be ‘movement’ or ‘idiom.’” Goss is by no means the first author to wade into the deco fray, but his focus lends his book distinction. Taking his cue from the Met installation Masterpieces of Art Deco, which he organized, and which was on view from August 2009 through January 2011, he has addressed the subject from the viewpoint of the French works and designers represented in the museum’s own collection.
France is essentially …» More
March 16, 2015 | Based as we are in New York, the staff of The Magazine ANTIQUES has a fond if not proprietary tendency to look upon the Metropolitan Museum of Art, especially its American Wing, as our “local” museum. So when we heard the news that the redoubtable Morrison H. Heckscher was retiring after forty-eight years, thirteen of them as head of the American Wing, we were especially curious about who could possibly fill his shoes.
Like so many others, we are delighted to see that Sylvia L. Yount has gamely stepped right into them. Yount, who comes to the Met after seven years as the chief curator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (where her work was “transformative” says VMFA director Alex Nyerges), is particularly admired for her collegial approach. Andrew Walker, director of the Amon Carter Museum, who went to graduate school in art history with her, notes Yount’s “collaborative skills, respect for the past, and the ability to find the right path of innovation”—talents that she has al…» More
February 24, 2015 | This short list of notable acquisitions began with a request to decorative arts curators in major American museums to choose and discuss a favorite recent gift or purchase.
Raphaelle Peale’s Still Life with Strawberries and Ostrich Egg Cup has come to the Seattle Art Museum from the estate of Ruth J. Nutt, well known to collectors of American silver for the surpassing collection she built and lent generously over the years to many public institutions, and especially to SAM. It was surely the silver-mounted ostrich egg cup in Peale’s exquisite still life that drew Ruth and her husband, Roy, to the painting. Eventually she acquired a similar Federal period cup, by John McMullin of Philadelphia, which is also now in SAM’s collection.
Painted in June 1814—in strawberry season—the canvas is the product of an artistic personality who seems to have felt a greater affinity for objects than people. It seems possible to read this arrangement of objects—an ostrich egg from Africa, a Chi…» More
[Compiled by Bill Stern, Executive Director at the Museum of California Design, Los Angeles. Originally published in "Curator's Eye" in Modern Magazi» View All