March 10, 2014 | The photographs by Charles Marville in this issue and on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art strike me as an important early chapter in the story of our modern lives. Marville's job was to photograph Paris before and after Baron Haussmann erased its centuries old densely wound streets, replacing them with the broad new avenues and alluring vistas that seduce us with life's limitless possibilities. Marville's street scenes are mostly absent of humanity, in part because capturing people during the long exposures required of early photography made populous scenes unlikely. But the photographer does seem to have intuited-or else I am making this up-that the freedom promised by modernity would come at a certain cost and that we might not always be at home on the vast boulevards of the future. To my eye these vistas (both before and after Haussmann) look a little like crime scenes; they hint at how life will feel when people have to struggle with a world of constant upheaval, so…» More
January 9, 2014 | Is it too soon to propose a quota on installations of contemporary art in period settings? Yes, I know, everything is mashable these days, but not all these border crossings of present into past deserve a visa. I recently went in search of a silver box in one of the period rooms of a major museum (it wasn't there). What I found instead was a series of interventions by artists who had installed video projections of old movies, recorded interviews with local folk jawing about their relatives, and, for some reason, multiple reproductions of twentieth-century plumbing fixtures. Makes you wonder, who's zooming who?
Not all conjunctions are so cockamamie, and many are simply wonderful. The recent sound installation by Janet Cardiff at the Cloisters in northern Manhattan comes to mind. There in the twelfth-century remnant of the Fuentiduena Chapel, Cardiff's recording of Thomas Tallis's sixteenth-century motet Spem in alium (In No Other Is My Hope) emerges from forty speakers arra…» More
November 6, 2013 | Are New Yorkers the most parochial people on the planet? I sometimes think so, especially when it comes to art, where we have an absolute genius for overlooking the important in busy pursuit of The Important. We are a city of zeitgeist sniffers, way too hungry for whatever fad diet the art market is currently dishing out. Luckily our plat du jour gets a lot tastier whenever the Met or the Frick or another city museum brings forth a sensational exhibition with global reach and historical depth, as they frequently do. The glorious Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500-1800 currently at the Met comes to mind.
We have assembled an issue that has little or nothing to do with what is going on in New York...or even with the East Coast for that matter. This may not be a felony but it might qualify as some kind of journalistic misdemeanor in many eyes. You be the judge. I can say with confidence that here on our island we have somehow missed the passion for American art o…» More
September 10, 2013 | We at ANTIQUES mourn the death of Michael K. Brown, a great friend of the magazine and a cherished member of the American decorative arts family. Our November-December issue will include a tribute to him as a man of enormous kindness, scholarship, humor, and loyalty.
Michael K. Brown (1953-2013), longtime curator of the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
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
by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton» View All