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
January 23, 2013 | In the 1950s Robert Moses, New York's bully-boy developer (a familiar type in these parts), had a suggestion for citizens who objected when he razed their neighborhoods: "Go to the Rockies," he told them, implying that city life is bulldozers, cranes, and scaffolding and to resist them is to resist being urban and modern.
Moses notwithstanding, modern life in New York has plenty of allure but its pleasures do often seem to me tinged with sadness. The new captivates us even as its undertow is the loss of so many buildings, shops, and streetscapes that were once familiar and dear. For someone caught in the crossfire of these conflicting emotions, certain city landmarks acquire symbolic weight. The Park Avenue Armory, site this month as it has been for many years of the Winter Antiques Show, is, for me, one of them. And not just because it is huge, fairly old...and still here.
The armory strikes me as a wonderful amalgam of history and modernity, open to transformation and car…» More
by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton» View All