November 14, 2014 | In the nineteenth century there was an oft-repeated tale about the young Thomas Coleentering New York from the far reaches of rural Pennsylvania and being met with hosannasfrom the city's artists. Like most oft-told tales this one turned fact toward myth (to beginwith, Cole had arrived from nowhere more obscure than Philadelphia), and yet it suggests somethingintriguing and durable about the artist: clouds of transcendent glory do seem to clingto him. Alexander Nemerov, in one of his aerial feats of art historical criticism that we are luckyenough to publish in this magazine, suggests why this should be so. "Thomas Cole's hat, or What is it to be an artist?" looks beneath the hat on display at the Thomas Cole house in Catskill, New York, to consider what we can and cannot know about a creative mind attuned to a different world while living in this one. The article is, if I may be oxymoronic for a moment, an effortless tour de force, so hang on to your hat and take the ride. It …» More
September 21, 2014 | On our cover, the cacophonous world in which we live--digital and artisanal, ephemeral and timeless--is rendered, ironically, in the disciplined quiet of limewood by the master carver (and prose master) David Esterly. Carving, Esterly has observed in his book The Lost Carving: A Journey to the Heart of Making, is a metaphor for many things. I'd count among them the energetic meeting of past and present that you will find in his article on the centuries long tradition of letter-rack paintings that inspired his own creations shown here.
I hope Esterly's article will lead you to his book, where you will find in addition to his account of restoring a masterwork by Grinling Gibbons lost to fire at Hampton Court Palace, a dramatic meditation on physical skill, creativity, and beauty that will excite anyone who has ever, for instance, admired a great cartouche, wondered at the invidious distinction between craft and art, or pondered the fashions of the art world, where the word disci…» More
July 15, 2014 | Here is a curious turn of events: British folk art, although obviously many centuries old, is just this summer receiving its first ever museum exhibition. Robert Young, who with his wife Josyane has carried aloft the standard of European folk art in their handsome London gallery for several years now, discusses Tate Britain's exhibition in this issue with his customary intelligence and brio. It is gratifying to see the Youngs' passion for beautifully idiosyncratic work finally recognized in a museum setting.
By contrast, in our made-up nation where we have no ruling artistic tradition to inhibit us, museums have been busily celebrating, exhibiting, and validating the art of the folk without cease for most of the past century. At Antiques we continue do our part...thus this our annual (mostly) folk art issue. And still, after all this time of mining the field, there are surprises, from the little known-the Autry's show of traditional and contemporary North American floral bead…» 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
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
by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton» View All