September 9, 2013 |
Like most editors I am interested in everything, but that doesn't mean I don't have opinions. I have, in fact, far too many of them, so I like it when some of my prejudices get rearranged, as they were early last spring when Eleanor Gustafson and I visited the Philadelphia home of John Whitenight and Frederick LaValley featured here. Ten rooms with aesthetic movement furniture, two hundred glass parlor domes, automata of a smoking monkey and a Renaissance nobleman strumming a mandolin, rare conservatory plants, and other Victoriana? Deeply cuckoo I figured. I was wrong.
All great collecting is, I think, a form of autobiography, and the more sincere it is, the more successful. "No one lives like this anymore," a friend said when I showed him my snapshots of the rooms. Also wrong. No one ever lived like this, and that is exactly what won me over. I admire everything about the Whitenight-LaValley house, but what I love most is its boldness and sincerity-the take it or leave it…» More
July 2, 2013 | Is it so surprising that New York has long been a center for folk and outsider art? From Electra Havemeyer Webb, founder of the Shelburne Museum, who started out in the glossy precincts of Park Avenue in the 1940s to Monty Blanchard, current president of the American Folk Art Museum, whose Tribeca loft is a geyser of the self-taught, the creatively independent, and the unexpected, the city has courted the unorthodox and rewarded variety. Or at least it used to. The imperial crown now sits heavily on New York's head, and the place that is like nowhere else in the world seems bent on becoming like everywhere else. Which brings us to the once small, adventurous, and lovable Museum of Modern Art, now a monolith on West Fifty-Third Street. As the world knows, MoMA plans to rule the street in a vast expanse of glass and steel by demolishing a small gem of twentieth-century architecture, the former home of the American Folk Art Museum. You can turn to our Preservation page to find tha…» More
May 8, 2013 |
Our cover shows an early and uncharacteristically jaunty painting by George Ault, part of the Lunder Collection featured in the article about the Colby College Museum of Art. Elsewhere in the issue an example of Ault's later, more hard-boiled style can be seen in Marica and Jan Vilcek's collection of
early American modernism. Ault was by most accounts an impossible person who rendered the discouraging reality he perceived around him in his own form of vernacular cubism. His View from Brooklyn is a favorite of mine.
Not to be too squish-headed about it, but the presence of two George Aults here suggests a kind of karma running through this issue. Not quite intentionally, we have paid tribute in a variety of articles to our peculiarly American form of arts patronage: The Vilceks and their foundation; the Alfond and Lunder families and their gifts to Colby; the arts patrons of Fort Worth who staged a remarkable art exhibition for President and Mrs. Kennedy in their hotel s…» More
March 25, 2013 | Every so often a few wise things get said about the passions of people who are collectors (most famously in Walter Benjamin's essay "Unpacking My Library"). Rarely is anything of interest written about dealers, and oddly enough, almost nothing can be found on the nature of that intriguing hybrid, the dealer/collector, which brings us to the pre-eminent example of the type, Peter Tillou of Litchfield, Connecticut-and, more importantly, the world. Much has been said and written about Tillou over the years, but taking the measure of this phenom (an appropriate baseball expression for those with prodigious talent exhibited at an early age) requires going beyond the well-worn facts-his fifty-plus years in the trade, his pushing the American folk art market into the commercial stratosphere, his galleries on two continents in the 1990s, and his omnivorous taste-before raising a glass in astonishment. How does he do it?
Like any great dealer, only more so, Peter Tillou is a serial s…» More
March 11, 2013 | A few weeks ago the Connecticut congressman Joe Courtney registered dismay at one of the more significant departures from historical fact inSteven Spielberg's Oscar-bound Lincoln. To dramatize the narrow margin by which the Thirteenth Amendment passed, the film's screenwriter Tony Kushner shows two members of the Connecticut delegation voting against the abolition of slavery. As it happened, all four voted in favor of the amendment. Kushner replied, arguing for his dramatic license (and pointing out that he had changed the names of the actual figures so as not to impugn them). He went on to observe that despite its four enlightened representatives the Nutmeg State ("the Georgia of the North") was soft on slavery, giving his fictionalized vote the whiff of a deeper truth.
Kushner seemed unreasonably peeved at being called into question by a mere congressman, which is too bad as he does have a point: sometimes you need the conventions of fiction to arrive at historical fact. A l…» 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