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In a better world we would all be thronging the doors of the Newark Museum; in the best of worlds Ulysses Grant Dietz would be there to meet us, taking us through the galleries with fellow curators Christa Clarke and Katherine Anne Paul
One sign of an important exhibition may be its ability to move us into unfamiliar territory. By that measure, as by others, the recent show at the American Folk Art Museum, When the Curtain Never Comes Down, has claimed our attention. Its twenty-seven self-taught/outsider artists are represented by both permanent works— assemblages, garments, instruments, drawings, and the like—but more significantly by their actions in movement, song, and other forms of evanescent self-display. In the current art climate it is a relief to encounter art that for the most part cannot be bought or sold. But surely we are drawn to these evangelists of the self for other, deeper reasons
Among the contents of the Allen Ginsberg Papers in Stanford University’s Green Library is a pair of worn and dirty tennis shoes. In the thousand linear feet of correspondence, photographs, manuscripts and notes, reel-to-reel recordings, performance posters, and broadsides, the beat-up sneakers hold their own. Purchased during his 1965 visit to Czechoslovakia, it is reasonable to surmise that Ginsberg wore the nondescript white canvas shoes to march in Prague’s May Day parade, to address a throng of students in the city square, and to cross the tarmac to an outbound plane when he was expelled from the Communist country a few days later
The eighteenth century had no pollsters to assess what voters really thought about their politicians, but even without such data, the eulogistic editorials that announced George Washington’s death in December 1799 make clear that the country’s first president had assumed a status as close to sainthood as anyone has ever done in the United States. John James Barralet’s print The Apotheosis of Washington and a spate of similarly grandiloquent depictions of the deceased leader rising into heaven speak volumes about the god-like reputation Washington assumed in the decades following the American Revolution.
After decades of lionization, what more could there be to say about Frida Kahlo? A great deal, as a visit to Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life, the new exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden, proves. All it took was a fresh perspective and a unique team of talents.
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
Margo Jefferson | Miniature trains and boats; animals and picture books; balls that bounce and tops that spin: these toys belong to non-human worlds. Dolls are the only toys made in our image, the only human-like creatures children are given dominion over
On April 29, 2015, a fire reduced one of England’s finest Palladian houses, Clandon Park, to little more than a hollowed out pile of rubble. This edition of “Farther afield” pays tribute to the exceptional estate that once was; the valiant rescue efforts that preserved a portion of its collection; and to ongoing work by the National Trust and its sister organization in the United States, the Royal Oak Foundation, to restore this and other properties, including newly refurbished Mount Stewart in Northern Ireland.