Author Archives: Philip Kennicott

Petition about Corcoran Gallery of Art should be heard for transparency’s sake

A motion filed Wednesday to stop the dismemberment of the Corcoran Gallery of Art should be given serious consideration by D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert Okun. The integrity of any final dispensation of the Corcoran depends on several key points raised by the petitioners, which include the advocacy group Save the Corcoran and more than a dozen other plaintiffs.

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Albert Paley’s fluid, yet sci-fi metal works at the Corcoran

A new Corcoran Gallery retrospective of metal work by Albert Paley is a bittersweet pleasure. Plans for a Paley show date back to 2008, during the tenure of former director Paul Greenhalgh. Now they’ve come to fruition as the last major Corcoran exhibition before the gallery and school close as an independent entity, the art to be taken by the National Gallery, the school delivered into the insatiable maw of George Washington University, and tens of millions in cash (from the dubious sale of material from the collection) divided between the two institutions as a kind of macabre death dowry.

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Ai Weiwei: A retrospective of his works

Ai Weiwei has reached the particular orbit of fame where he is subject to the same celestial winds that buffet ordinary celebrities. Now 56 years old, he is one of a handful of artists who are household names and is by far the best-known, if not always the most admired, artist from China. For more than a decade beginning in 1981, he was based in the United States and absorbed the artistic energies coursing through the streets, galleries and museums of New York. In 1993 he returned to China, where he remains today, unable to leave because his passport is being held by the Chinese government. He is now a dissident artist, which comes at great personal cost yet magnifies his stature and amplifies his message, making him an international voice of conscience for artistic freedom and personal integrity in a country where it is easy to make art — and easy to make a fortune — so long as you stay within the government’s unspoken redlines. Some critics have soured on him, but few dismiss him. His power of visual condensation, his keen flair for paradox and his ability to connect well-made and appealing objects to troubling chains of thought make him an artist of exceptionally broad reach and clarity in an otherwise fractured, noisy and anarchic art world.

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Williamsburg and the unreconstructed boy

As a kid, I loved patriotic spectacle: Fourth of July fireworks with Sousa marches blaring in the background, old battlefields with cannons and muskets and re-enactors, traipsing through the houses of the Founding Fathers with tour guides who got mis…

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Andrew Wyeth exhibit leaves viewers on the outside looking in at the National Gallery

Visitors to the National Gallery of Art’s “Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In” are greeted by a masterpiece, the artist’s 1947 “Wind from the Sea,” which structures the whole exhibition. The theme is windows, their recurrence as icon in the painter’s oeuvre, their personal and sometimes hermetic meanings as metaphor, and the larger tension they set up between representation and abstraction in the some 60 paintings, watercolors and drawings on view.

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They come to bury the Corcoran, not to praise it

Let’s set aside, for a moment, the legalistic language, as confusing in some passages as the fine print on a credit card application. And let’s forget the euphemistic language, bordering on the mendacious, in the reiteration of words such as “collaboration” and “partnership.” Let’s look for a nugget of goodness in the announcement Thursday of new details about how the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University will devour the now defunct Corcoran Gallery of Art.

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Posted in Uncategorized

They come to bury the Corcoran, not to praise it

Let’s set aside, for a moment, the legalistic language, as confusing in some passages as the fine print on a credit card application. And let’s forget the euphemistic language, bordering on the mendacious, in the reiteration of words such as “collaboration” and “partnership.” Let’s look for a nugget of goodness in Thursday’s announcement of new details about how the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University will devour the now-defunct Corcoran Gallery of Art.

Read full article >>

Posted in Uncategorized