May 21, 2014 | Although the earliest surviving illustrated botanical manuscript dates from AD 512-the Vienna Dioscurides, a copy of the important medical treatise by the first-century Greek physician and herbalist Pedanius Dioscurides-botanical illustration as a distinctive artistic genre developed in the fifteenth century with the rise of illustrated herbals, manuscripts explaining the medicinal and culinary uses of plants and flowers. After all, in an age living close to the ground, it was crucial to distinguish between a plant that could induce sleep and one that would induce it forever. The introduction of exotic new plants from Asia and the Americas during the sixteenth century prompted continuous publication of accurate pictures to help botanists study, name, and classify the new discoveries. Continued refinements to reproductive engraving and lithographic techniques furthered these publications during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Most techniques produced black-and-white…» More
May 20, 2014 | It was big news in the museum world when the New York Times reported that a rare exhibition of Donatello, considered by some to be the finest sculptor of the Renaissance, was coming to New York City. But the venue for Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral (on view from February 20 through June 14, 2015), will not be the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the National Gallery in Washington, but rather the tiny Museum of Biblical Art (MOBiA), on Broadway and 61st Street. The exhibition will coincide with the 10th anniversary of the museum's founding, and the palpable incongruity between the show and its surroundings will be like having the Rolling Stones show up for some sweet sixteen party.
The Museo del Duomo in Florence is currently undergoing renovations and the major museums that were approached with the exhibition felt that they would not have enough time to mount it properly. And so it comes to MOBiA, one of the worthiest if leas…» More
May 9, 2014 | Visitors approaching the grand front entrance of Norfolk, Virginia's Chrysler Museum of Art on its reopening on May 10 could be forgiven for not realizing that a major transformation has taken place. So seamlessly have the flanking wings been enlarged and the gardens in front of them so surreptitiously moved forward that it is only when inside that the impact of the seventeen-month renovation and expansion becomes evident. In its new spaces and reconfigured galleries the museum presents a fresh look at its collections, with its longstanding strengths in glass and European and American painting and sculpture as well as newer areas, such as contemporary art.
Within a broadly chronological progression of painting, sculpture, and decorative arts the curators have created several provocative "interventions": in a gallery devoted to seventeenth-century Italian art, a 1954 Robert Richenburg Pieta so abstract that it takes some looking to discern the image of the dead Chri…» More
May 6, 2014 | The subtitle of the Met's Charles James exhibition, "Beyond Fashion," is suitably vague, hinting at an exalted realm where even the most extravagant fashion superlatives will be inadequate. Then, too, the phrase is meant to suggest that what lies beyond fashion must inevitably be art. Certainly James's designs have been so described almost from his first decade as a couturier in the 1930s: "Charles James is...the world's best and only dressmaker who has raised it from an applied art form to a pure art form," no less a personage than Cristóbal Balenciaga declared in a compliment that has become more or less routine.
Evening dress in black silk-rayon velvet, red silk satin, brown silk faille, and black silk crepe by James, 1946. © Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, gift of Arturo and Paul Peratto-Ramos.
The Met will display some seventy-five of the master's designs, all instantly recognizable for their dramati…» More
May 1, 2014 | Here is the conventional wisdom about our world: contemporary art, in the ascendant for decades now, is on an ahistorical rampage, wielding its industrial strength newness and sowing disdain for beauty, mastery of technique, and anything that smacks of pastness. While this may be true of a segment of the art market and its press, artists are quite another matter. Tucked into nearly every issue of Antiques are the works and words of living artists for whom the things we value here are a significant source of inspiration. The British artists described below are a case in point as is Stephen Rolfe Powell, a glass artist whose Whackos and Teasers sit amiably amidst a great collection of Kentucky-bred sugar chests and early stoneware.
The Yale Center for British Art currently has an ambitious exhibition of artists' books inspired by the natural world that pairs examples from the distant past with those of contemporary makers. The printmaker and engraver Andrew Raftery who is wel…» More
by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton» View All