October 14, 2015 | One afternoon not long after I began working here I opened a letter that asked me a challenging question: how, the writer wanted to know, “did a Polack [sic] like you get your position?” After a few jolly moments in the office I called our longtime editor Wendell Garrett, who enjoyed odd news from the passing scene. Wendell was amused, but he also reminded me that the magazine had been founded in the 1920s, the banner era of American xenophobia, and he reckoned some of that lingered in a few of its readers.
It made sense. The heretofore neglected field of American art and decorative arts embraced by the magazine was bound to draw a trickle of folks for whom the only way to be American is to give up being anything else…as if that were possible. The magazine, of course, took a higher road, celebrating the successes of American arts and just as often noting their connections to the arts of the rest of the world.
Which brings me to our September/October issue, which has tradition…» More
July 29, 2015 | We look forward to the merger of The Magazine ANTIQUES and MODERN Magazine with ARTNEWS S.A. as we expand our digital presence, reach new readers, and bring the best in scholarship and criticism on the fine and decorative arts to a global audience.» More
July 15, 2015 | What has been lost… The only thing more American than sentimentalizing the past is our habit of discarding it. And so when it comes to the dolls shown in this issue, stunning examples of an African-American folk art, questions abound: who were their makers and for whom were they made? How can they be dated and where did they originate? So much has been lost, but the dolls survive thanks to Deborah Neff, who brought them together and has sent them into the world to ask questions that need to be answered. We don’t need to ask why so much African-American material culture has been mislaid. We know the answer to that. I am aware of it every time we publish research like Alyce Perry Englund’s article on two folk art desks, one made by William Howard, a former slave, and I ponder all that is out there waiting for the light.
What has been found… Our admiration for the folk art miniaturist Mary Way is deepened by Brian Ehrlich’s discovery that one of her finest works, a signed portrai…» 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
January 12, 2015 | When he was designing the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth the great American architect Louis Kahn said that he wanted it to resemble “a friendly home.” That might surprise anyone familiar with Kahn’s museums—the Kimbell, the Yale Center for British Art, or the Yale University Art Gallery—but I think he was simply saying that he wanted his building to wall out cultural intimidation. What he, or any museum these days, might want to wall in is another story.
At the newly reopened Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum—described in these pages by Frank Rose, who is always on the cutting edge of everything—they want visitors to come in and create their own twenty-first-century design experience. At Harvard where the art museums have also just reopened after six years, Ethan Lasser says they want visitors to listen in as the masterpieces talk to each other across continents and centuries, and they have arranged them to do just that.
And then there is the Newark Museum, subjec…» 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