Friday, June 29, 2012

Should Artists Run Museums?

The idea of artists running museums sounds to many like allowing the inmates to run the asylum. A profile in the current issue of The New Yorker of Tate Gallery Director Nicholas Serota by Calvin Tomkins titled “The Modern Man: How the Tate Gallery’s Nicholas Serota is reinventing the museum” characterizes Serota’s secret formula for success as taking an “artist-centered approach” in which the museum asks contemporary artists what they would want in a museum. Serota, once considered an outrageous and outraging outsider by the British art establishment, now stands as the gold standard for art directors worldwide thanks to his track record of bringing contemporary art to the masses and getting them to enjoy it. If Tomkins is right and Serota’s “reinventing” the idea of the museum, does this mean that artists (at least indirectly) should run museums? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Should Artists Run Museums?"

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Why Does George Bellows Take Such a Critical Beating?

You’d think that a giant retrospective at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC would, at least momentarily, make George Bellows the king of the art ring. But once again Bellows finds himself the disputed champion of the sports-related paintings that made him an acclaimed artist in his own time before his tragic death at the too-young age of 42. The New Yorker’s Peter Schjeldahl’s review (titled “Young and Gifted”) raises the typical and, I believe, unfair criticisms of Bellows, who is too often diminished for the things he wasn’t and not often considered for the things that he was in the short time he had to do them. For someone who should stand among the first rank of American artists, why does George Bellows take such a critical beating? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Why Does George Bellows Take Such a CriticalBeating?"

[Image: George Bellows. Stag at Sharkey's, 1909. Oil on canvas. Framed: 110.17 x 140.5 x 8.5 cm (43 3/8 x 55 5/16 x 3 3/8 in.). Unframed: 92 x 122.6 cm (36 1/4 x 48 1/4 in.). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Hinman B. Hurlbut Collection.]

[Many thanks to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, for providing the image above and other press materials related to the exhibition George Bellows, which runs through October 8, 2012.]

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How the Great Artists Imagined Paradise Lost, and Regained

We are stardust. We are golden. We are billion year old carbon. And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden,” sang Joni Mitchell in her song “Woodstock.” Every generation before and since has longed to return to the garden—the Edenic paradise found in every human culture and religion on earth. In Gauguin, Cézanne, Matisse: Visions of Arcadia, we see how these three giants of modern art traced their own paths back. Along with a supporting cast of artists spanning centuries and crossing international borders, their journeys become a massively complex web of influences and dialogues that demonstrate just how deeply this vision of heaven on earth lies in the collective consciousness of humanity and continues to influence not only our taste in artists, but also our taste in presidents. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "How the Great Artists Imagined Paradise Lost,and Regained." 

[Image: Bathers by a River, March 1909-10, May-November 1913, and early spring 1916-October (?) 1917. Henri Matisse, French, 1869-1954. Oil on canvas, 102 1/2 x 154 3/16 inches (260.4 x 391.6 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago, Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection.]
[Many thanks to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the image above from, other press materials related to, and an invitation to the press preview for Gauguin, Cézanne, Matisse: Visions of Arcadia, which runs through September 3, 2012.]