art appreciation

Art Appreciation: Pope Francis, Chagall, & Bolsheviks

Is papal art appreciation all that it seems? Pope Francis once cited Chagall’s “White Crucifixion” as one of his two favorite paintings. Perhaps he really meant it. Or maybe his stated preference was a cost-free instance of diplospeak. A polite ceremonial gesture to cover an entrenched imbalance in his Middle East sympathies? Either way, as an expression of sympathy for the Jewish people, papal art appreciation is easy but insubstantial.     It is no substitute for unambiguous support for Israel, a tiny Jewish state targeted for extinction from the date of its founding. Continue Reading
Axiom for Gallery-Goers

Before we get too far along together, it would be wise to clarify terms. The two that matter most are contemporary art and what can only be called, for lack of a better one, critical approach . More specifically, this weblog’s approach, its guiding axiom. The former is an objective category; the second, highly personal. So let us begin with the second, if only to set the stage—clear the decks, come clean—or whichever other cliché works best to bring the Big Picture into focus. Continue Reading

ART TALK HAS BECOME SO BLOATED with self-consciousness that it hardly counts as conversation any more. Certainly not as the Goncourt brothers understood the word. Not even as it is practiced over a Sam Adams Light at McFadden’s Tap. These days, art talk is known as discourse, a gray, unsmiling thing with the smell of the podium about it. If only Ernest Gellner were still here to do for artspeech what he did for the analyst’s couch in The Psychoanalytic Movement (1985). Continue Reading
Hodgkin, Pieper and Artwriting

The lecture goes back a few years but reminders of it keep arriving. In November, 2003, while he was here for his exhibit at Gagosian, Howard Hodgkin gave a talk at the Frick. The subject was one of those airy things that weigh a ton: an artist’s perspective on the relationship between painting and its audience. The topic presupposes a certain consciousness on the part of painting itself, that it might reach out, as they say, to hold up its part in relationship with you and me. Continue Reading