Museum Culture

Dodging the Sacred

MODERNITY OFFERS SECULARISTS TWO SEDUCTIVE HEDGES: aestheticism and Buddhism. New York’s Rubin Museum yokes them together in a pictorial fantasia on the New Age-y theme of universal spirituality. No divisive truth claims mar the view from the $100 million monument to Multi-Plan founder Donald Rubin’s own purchasing power and those acquisitive cravings that Buddhist doctrine decries. All contradictions and irreconcilable differences disperse in the solvent of art appreciation, that distinctly Western ideology at the heart of museum culture. Embodying the Holy: Icons in Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Tibetan Buddhism is a visually splendid, conceptually shallow, exhibition. Continue Reading
Every Town, Its Arts Center

IT USED TO BE “A CHICKEN IN EVERY POT.” Today, the rallying cry is more like “Every town, its own art center.” How else can we grow into informed, sensitive, environmentally caring and gender-free citizens without art? Without the ministrations and musings of Those Who Know? Without the comfort of art to compensate for our unemployment? Ask Pittsfield, Massachusetts. A prosperous metropolis at the turn of the 20th century, it was a naitonal center for the manufacture of woolens. It had thriving mills that produced grist, lumber, paper and textiles. Continue Reading
Art the Destroyer

THIS PRESS RELEASE CAME IN THE MORNING MAIL. It is a shining example of academic/museum culture. An initial cue to the tenor of things is the windy title of John Russell’s untitled painting. [Scroll down.] If you see only two glowing suns, not three as announced, do not fret. The third will show up sooner or later in another replicate. It is an inkjet print—quite a huge one—on polyester. Russel exhibited the identical central image in a group show at the Royal Academy, London, in 2008. Continue Reading