Digital doings: Chatting from Winter in Spring, a Curious Cupid, and More

Sammy Dalati Curious Objects, Magazine

Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Abraham Thomas, painter Andrew LaMar Hopkins, and ceramist Roxanne Jackson— along with Curious Objects host Benjamin Miller— participating in the panel discussion “Craft in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” at this year’s edition of the Winter Show.

Although New York City’s gradual recovery from the pandemic can seem at times to be a case of one step forward and two steps back, a bit of a return to normalcy was signaled by the March/April staging of an in-person version of the Winter Show, the annual art and antiques fair, for the first time in two years. Despite being displaced from their usual late- January spot on the social calendar, and from their usual haunt (instead of at the Park Avenue Armory, dealers set up shop at the less familiar if only—for fashion lovers— slightly less storied 660 Madison Avenue, formerly the Barneys department store’s flagship), the proceedings felt, for the most part, hearteningly familiar. And as has become something of a tradition, the Winter Show was the occasion for a live panel discussion presented by ANTIQUES and presided over by Benjamin Miller, host of our podcast, Curious Objects. The topic this year—rather grandly—was “Craft in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” a contemporary riff on Walter Benjamin’s famed 1935 essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” incorporating the insight and wit of Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Abraham Thomas, ceramist Roxanne Jackson, and painter Andrew LaMar Hopkins (whose artwork graced the cover of ANTIQUES’ January/February issue, the first of our hundredth-anniversary year). What was a lively discussion on April 9 is now a lively podcast episode, a morsel for listeners in need of a fix as they await the debut of Curious Objects’ upcoming season.

As always, you can tune in to Curious Objects on Spotify, iTunes, or wherever you listen to podcasts, or navigate to ANTIQUES’ website and select the “Podcast” tab.

An upcoming video from ANTIQUES’ TMAexplains YouTube series will tell the story of one of today’s most protean furniture forms, the credenza.

If an art historian told you that such-and-such smoke-smudged mark in a twenty-thousand-year-old painting in a cave in Lascaux, France, was ambiguous in its meaning you wouldn’t bat an eye. But if the same were said about an entire Renaissance canvas, commissioned by the most famous patron family in Florence? Surprisingly, for Bronzino’s An Allegory with Venus and Cupid, believed to have been painted about 1545 for Cosimo I de’ Medici, that’s exactly the story. In the next TMAexplains video, art history student Chandravali Martínez, of the University of the Cloister of Sor Juana in Mexico City, will enumerate the multitudinous mysteries of this whirling hodgepodge of figures leering, cavorting, scowling, and howling in some dance of unknown import. Of especial concern: why is Cupid making out with his mom, Venus?!

Our second upcoming video asks a question that would, on its face, appear to have a simple answer: what is a “credenza”? Spend any time on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or any other online bazaar, and you’ll find this word attached to a dizzying array of forms. Go to the dictionary and you’ll see that the word “credenza” comes from the Latin for “trust” or “belief” (the cabinet’s original purpose was to act as staging ground for that most thankless of jobs assigned to servants: testing their masters’ food for poison). And there’s more to discover. ANTIQUES’ digital media assistant, Mateo Solis Prada, lays it all out in this his first foray into script-writing.

Find TMAexplains on YouTube, or visit our website and select the “Video” tab at the top of the page.