Author Archives: Philip Kennicott

‘Horace Pippin: The Way I See It’: A self-taught artist’s learned teacher

CHADDS FORD, Pa. — Horace Pippin, a self-taught American artist who died in 1946, is most often encountered one work at a time, here and there, usually in shows devoted to an overview of American or African American art in the 20th century. That often leaves the impression that Pippin was a minor artist, good at some things but unskilled at others. When his work is seen piecemeal, his artistry is easily overshadowed by that of more imposing figures, including Jacob Lawrence and Aaron Douglas, or made to seem merely an exemplar of larger trends in the art world (toward folk subjects, “primitivism” or the naivete of the “outsider” artist).Read full article >>




Posted in Uncategorized

‘Filthy Lucre’ and the complicated relationship between artist and buyer

In 1840, the great British historian Thomas Macaulay predicted that the Roman Catholic Church would outlast all its skeptics and even the city of London, and he used a striking visual image to underscore his point: The Roman Church “may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.” That vision of ruins, made literal in a famous image by Gustave Doré, became something of a cliche in 19th-century writing. Though Macaulay’s New Zealander is mostly forgotten today, the delight in imagining our own world in ruins lingers, in movies that show Washington incinerated by aliens or New York inundated by apocalyptic floods.Read full article >>




Posted in Uncategorized

It’s written all over their faces

The first Hirshhorn Museum exhibition organized under the watch of its recently appointed director, Melissa Chiu, is structured around three turning points in Iranian history. “Shirin Neshat: Facing History” contextualizes the artist’s work around the 1953 ouster of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the 1979 revolution that brought Ayatollah Khomeini to power and the abortive Green Movement of 2009, which raised and dashed hopes of more democratic, secular-leaning governance. Read full article >>




Posted in Uncategorized

At the Met, the artistic riches of India’s Deccan Plateau

NEW YORKElihu Yale, the enterprising and corrupt colonial governor who gave a modest bequest and lent his name to Yale College, made much of his wealth trading diamonds from mines on the Deccan Plateau of south-central India. Yale’s name is a fascinating footnote to a new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which examines the artistic production of the small but culturally robust sultanates of Deccan India. Yale, who exemplifies the reach of Deccan treasure, becomes one prism through which to see a show that is ultimately an exploration of cultural porosity, full of the material remnants of trade and colonialism, dynastic intrigue, war and religion.Read full article >>




Posted in Uncategorized

At museums, selfie sticks poke holes in the idea of anything goes

How is it that we ended up with one big idea governing museums, and such a self-destructive one? The museum, we hear ad nauseam, must be a space like any other, must not have its own rules, must not insist upon its own etiquette. The ideal museum, it seems, is seamlessly connected to the ordinary world, is transparent and is easily penetrated by the same signals, currents and fashions that flow through the realms of commerce, entertainment and social connectivity. The museum, as a perfectly democratic space, would have no walls, or laws.Read full article >>



At the Whitney, a new structure forges a different relationship with the city

NEW YORK —The new home of the Whitney Museum of American Art begins where the High Line ends. The wildly popular linear park, built on an unused elevated train line on the west side of Manhattan, stops abruptly at Gansevoort Street, in the formerly gritty meatpacking district, now home to the usual suspects in the luxury retail business. Tourists and flâneurs who reach the park’s terminus descend a gentle staircase to ground level, where they can turn left for shopping, eating and drinking, or right toward the Hudson River and into the glassy embrace of the Whitney’s enticing lobby.Read full article >>



Posted in Uncategorized

At the Whitney, a new structure forges a different relationship with the city

NEW YORK —The new home of the Whitney Museum of American Art begins where the High Line ends. The wildly popular linear park, built on an unused elevated train line on the west side of Manhattan, stops abruptly at Gansevoort Street, in the formerly gritty meatpacking district, now home to the usual suspects in the luxury retail business. Tourists and flâneurs who reach the park’s terminus descend a gentle staircase to ground level, where they can turn left for shopping, eating and drinking, or right toward the Hudson River and into the glassy embrace of the Whitney’s enticing lobby.Read full article >>



Posted in Uncategorized

Wandering from the straight path of clarity, it’s still full of powerful art

You may feel, at times, as if you’ve been handed a map, and then told that the map may or may not be accurate, may or may not relate to anything in the real world, may or may not be entirely a fiction, or a random design concocted by some clever trickster to mislead you. That is how the title of a new show at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art — “The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists” — relates to the work on view, by more than 40 artists from 18 African countries.Read full article >>



Posted in Uncategorized

Wandering from the straight path of clarity, it’s still full of powerful art

You may feel, at times, as if you’ve been handed a map, and then told that the map may or may not be accurate, may or may not relate to anything in the real world, may or may not be entirely a fiction, or a random design concocted by some clever trickster to mislead you. That is how the title of a new show at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art — “The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists” — relates to the work on view, by more than 40 artists from 18 African countries.Read full article >>




Posted in Uncategorized

Kuniyoshi remained true to America despite his shameful treatment

Americans claim Yasuo Kuniyoshi as one of our great artists of the past century, but we really have no right to. Kuniyoshi, a Japanese-born painter who was one of the most idiosyncratic and expressive artists of his time, moved to the United States as a teenager in 1906 and lived here until his death in 1953. But he was denied citizenship, declared an enemy alien during the Second World War, and when he married an American woman in 1919, she was stripped of her citizenship and disowned by her family for years. His most productive years here coincided with an ugly age of racism, xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment.Read full article >>



Posted in Uncategorized