2011

For Unto Us A Child Is Born

EACH CHRISTMAS MORNING I wake up relieved that the struggle against “Happy Holidays” is over for another year. Holidays are holy days, after all. When Hanukkah and Christmas arrive so close together as they do this year, I wonder if it would be possible to announce “Happy Holy Days!” into the secular void.  The wondering calls to mind “A Rabbi’s Christmas,” an essay by one Jakob Petuchowski. When it was written 20 years ago, the author was a professor of Judeo-Christian studies in Cincinnati, of Jewish liturgy in Arizona, and a rabbi in Laredo, Texas. Continue Reading
Picturing Mary Magdalene

ART HISTORIANS ARE NOT NECESSARILY the best commentators on art. They are primarily researchers: archival sleuths, inquirers, unearthers of fact. Gumshoes, the best of them.  Some can write, many cannot. The discipline draws bookish sorts who are more at home in a library carrel, reading up on the words of some other member of the discipline who needs to be corrected. Or quieted. Or slain. In many respects, the discipline can be thought of as the yeshivot of the art world, a seminary for orthodox secularists trying to puzzle out the path to a better heaven. Continue Reading
Things to Read with Caravaggio in Mind

HASAN NIYAZI, impressario of Three Pipe Problem, had included a list of readings that informed his essay in the previous post, Navigating the Cognitive Philosophy of Michael Fried. I omitted the roster simply to conform more closely to the format of Studio Matters. The audience for this blog are, in the main, other working artists, a critic or two (one of whom comments anonymously), and art history buffs in the finest sense of the word amateur. Professional art historians, a rarified priesthood, tend to prefer talking to each other. Continue Reading
Navigating the Cognitive Philosophy of Michael Fried

by Hasan Niyazi CARAVAGGIO AND HIS FOLLOWERS IN ROME has arrived at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Those unable to experience the majesty of the Baroque in person are left to ponder the substantial catalogue recently published by Yale University Press. Featuring essays by exhibition organizers and notable scholars of the Baroque, Michael Fried’s contribution,  Notes Toward a Caravaggisti Pictorial Poetics, will be seen by some as riding on the critical success of his 2010 study The Moment of Caravaggio. Continue Reading
Christ and His Opposite?

ONE PROBLEM WITH ART HISTORIANS-TURNED-JOURNALISTS lies in the requirements of journalism. The art pundit must be interesting; no matter if accuracy suffers. Diversion is the name of the game. Elegant and high-minded, to be sure, but diverting nonetheless. And there really is not time, given the copy deadlines of daily or even weekly publications, to do much homework on the subject one wishes to be interesting about. Art history, like art talk across the board, is useful as a higher entertainment. Continue Reading