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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
Collecting and researching American art have been avocations of mine since my student days at the University of Pittsburgh in the 1950s, when I commuted to school through the neighborhoods of the Hill District and past the belching steel mills on both sides of the Monongahela River. Those are fond memories still—fifty years after leaving Pittsburgh for New England—so when a group of ten drawings of those neighborhoods and mills surfaced on eBay, with inscriptions dating to March 1945 by a student at the city's Schenley High School, I acquired them. My reasons were initially nostalgic, but I also wondered if research might show that the "Andy" on the first sketch could possibly be Andy Warhol, who graduated from Schenley High in 1945.
Some things just aren't meant to fit in. The Whitney Museum of American Art certainly sounds like an august institution. But it was born on a scruffy back street in Greenwich Village at a time when "bohemian" meant "disreputable," and during its six decades uptown-most of them at Madison Avenue and Seventy-Fifth Street, in the moneyed precincts of the Upper East Side-it never really outgrew its origins. It did, however, outgrow its starkly modernist home, Marcel Breuer's inverted ziggurat from 1966. In addition to the usual curatorial squabbles and courting of benefactors and some epic board disputes, the Whitney spent decades trying to assuage its neighbors while somehow finding a way to expand. The task was hopeless. So it was with a feeling not just of relief but of joy that last spring, having renounced itsuptown location, the museum opened the doors to an expansive new building in the part of downtown Manhattan that until a few years ago was a reeking abattoir. Home, sweet home.
It is easy to succumb to the beauty of Budapest, Hungary's capital city, which straddles the legendary Danube River flowing down from Germany out to the Black Sea. High on a hill on the Buda side stands the Buda Castle, erected on the ruins of former royal palaces going back to the thirteenth century. It is answered across the river in Pest by the Hungarian Houses of Parliament, an immense Gothic pile of pinnacles modeled after London's Palace of Westminster (Fig. 2). Hungary's Parliament is just one of the grand architectural monuments built during Budapest's heyday at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries—a period of peace and economic prosperity after centuries of foreign rule.
Little known except to connoisseurs—Amy Finkel calls it “one of Philadelphia’s hidden treasures”—the Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection at Drexel University is about to come into the limelight. We spoke to Clare Sauro, its curator and the organizer of its first major exhibition, Immortal Beauty: Highlights from the Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection, which will be on view from October 2 to December 12 at the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery of Drexel’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. Ranging from a fragment of sixteenth-century Italian velvet to a 2012 evening dress by Alexander Wang, the more than seventy-five pieces in the show are a fraction of the fourteen thousand in the collection, which was begun in the late 1890s as an educational resource for Drexel students and renamed for the Foxes last year in honor of their ongoing support.
Art pilgrims intent on making Cambridge, England, their destination should extend their journey beyond the university's majestic Fitzwilliam Museum and its old masters and Kettle's Yard, the fey modernist cenacle of British art between the wars, to include the New Hall Art Collection at Murray Edwards College, one of three exclusively women's colleges at the University of Cambridge. Unknown to many Cambridge students and faculty, and a substantial number of British art historians and critics, the college has collected and exhibits more than four hundred works of art by women. It is the most significant collection of its kind in Europe, and the second largest public collection of women's art in existence, surpassed only by the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., which houses some forty-five hundred objects.
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.
"The Civil War has left its mark on two important pieces of vernacular furniture acquired by the Wadsworth Atheneum"
Recent noteworthy publications that are a pleasure to read and a delight to behold