Author Archives: Philip Kennicott

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 >>



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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 >>



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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 >>

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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 >>



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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 >>



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A vexing delay on the Corcoran’s historical designation

The postponement of a decision last week by the District’s Historic Preservation Review Board is troubling. At its monthly meeting, the board heard testimony about the Corcoran Gallery and whether historic landmark protection should be extended to its interior spaces. George Washington University, which took over the Corcoran’s art school and building last summer, strongly opposes extending landmark status to more than a few, largely ceremonial areas easily accessible by the public. The D.C. Preservation League has submitted a nomination to include much more of the building, including galleries to which the public once had ready access before the Corcoran’s board of directors decided to commit institutional suicide by dividing the school from the museum, handing over the art to the National Gallery of Art and letting GWU take over the educational program.Read full article >>



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Exhibit on Kahlo, Rivera shines welcome spotlight on Detroit museum

DETROIT — In July 1932, Frida Kahlo ended up in Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, where a complicated pregnancy came to a painful end, perhaps a miscarriage or the result of abortion. Her ability to have children may have been compromised by injuries from a violent bus accident in 1925, so it isn’t clear exactly what happened. But Frida’s husband, the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, referred to the event as “Frida’s tragedy,” and a self-portrait Kahlo made shortly after shows her glassy-eyed, with a frightened and drawn expression.Read full article >>

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What’s the most shocking thing on view at the Bjork exhibition? Music.

Of all the visual delights and exotica on display at the Museum of Modern Art’s Bjork exhibition—androgynous robot sex, canoodling with snakes in the rain forest, and the famous Alexander McQueen “Pagan Poetry” dress with its drafty upper reaches—perhaps the most quietly shocking was the visual presence of actual music. Yes, printed music, pasted on the walls where visitors queue to enter the multimedia “Songlines” galleries, and also on the covers of the multiple catalog inserts.Read full article >>



What’s the most shocking thing on view at the Bjork exhibition? Music.

Of all the visual delights and exotica on display at the Museum of Modern Art’s Bjork exhibition—androgynous robot sex, canoodling with snakes in the rain forest, and the famous Alexander McQueen “Pagan Poetry” dress with its drafty upper reaches—perhaps the most quietly shocking was the visual presence of actual music. Yes, printed music, pasted on the walls where visitors queue to enter the multimedia “Songlines” galleries, and also on the covers of the multiple catalog inserts.Read full article >>



A setback for D.C. arts and culture, years in the making

They had already decided on a Saturday night in mid-September, and they had a tentative program: an evening of George Gershwin, Kurt Weill and Daniel Schnyder, a Swiss composer and saxophonist whose music crosses just about every definable stylistic boundary, from jazz to world music to opera. It was going to be a “hard-hat concert,” performed in the raw, crumbling space of the 1869 Franklin School. It would showcase the possibilities of the historic structure and generate support for the renovation of the historic building.Read full article >>



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