On “A ‘new’ Vermeer in Dresden”

My latest article for The New Criterion explores how one of Vermeer’s iconic paintings known for its minimalist subtlety, was, in fact, didactic and obvious. The “Girl Reading a Letter At an Open Window,” now in Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, originally contained an image of a giant Cupid painting on the back wall. The Cupid was overpainted after Vermeer’s death, adding to the mystery of the subject matter. Now the work is undergoing restoration to its original, unambiguously campy love-story state.

 

Modern Luxury Orange County Magazine

Thankful to appear on page 66 of Modern Luxury Orange County Magazine (October 2017). You can read the full article here (pdf).

UCLA Hammer Museum Livestream Video: In conversation with Dave Hickey (5.11.16)


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Scholars and Scandals

Professor Paglia is in the news again. This time, some of the students at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, her home institution where she has been teaching for over three decades, launched a petition demanding she “should be removed from UArts faculty and replaced by a queer person of color.”

Here is my review of her latest book Provocations (Pantheon, 2018), in which I tried to contextualize Paglia’s recent writings on sex, gender, art, education and the #MeToo within the last three decades of her scholarship, as well as her writing for the wider public. I think that the irony of what is happening right now is that the passage of time had proven Camille Paglia to be right on many accounts. She is certainly a provocateur, or provocatrice, as the case may be, but in my view she is hardly a controversial person.

Bob Ross and the art historical canon

If we take Henri Matisse’s famous assertion that art should be something like a good armchair in which to rest from physical fatigue at face value, we might end up with something approaching the “happy [x]” philosophy of Bob Ross, whose message was perfectly suited for television—the medium which help to spread it. I discuss the Bob Ross phenomenon, and its implications for today’s American culture, in my latest article for The New Criterion.

Annie Lapin: The Archeology of Meaning

Miles McEnery Gallery’s latest publication contains an essay I wrote about the Los Angeles based painter Annie Lapin. In the essay, I place Lapin’s latest body of work “The Art of Heads and Hands” in the context of Henri Focillon’s theories about the life of forms in art. Hard copy of the catalogue is available through the gallery.

Summer reading suggestions

A couple of months ago I came across a fascinating little book published by Frieze in 1998. It was a bibliography intended to help young artists to become better young artists. The material was solicited from a few dozen art world people (artists, critics, curators) by Jerry Saltz, who also edited the volume. The same week I came across a more current mini-bibliography, also for the benefit of young artist. My article on the contrast between the two, and what this contrasts tells us about the shift of values, was just published in The New Criterion.

 

Tony DeLap Retrospective at the Laguna Art Museum

One of the bast museum shows I have seen in a while turned out to be a retrospective of a local artist in a local museum. My review of it is on The New Criterion site.

 

On the latest decision-making by the University of Wisconsin bureaucracy

My alma mater, UW-Madison, has been making some very unsettling choices lately. More on that in my latest blog post  “The user-centric university” in The New Criterion dispatches section.

Why chromophobia of #MeToo does not make any sense

 

The #MeToo’ers got their aesthetic affiliation all wrong as they went for Puritanism—one of history’s archetypal patriarchies. In my latest contribution to The New Criterion, I discuss how the movement’s desire to disassociate itself from traditional trappings of femininity, including color, is incongruent with their professed embrace of the oppressed “other.”

Manchester Art Gallery “Challenging a Victorian fantasy” is a clumsy publicity stunt

In the latest tragical-comical episode linking the art world and the #MeToo movement, a group of artists and activists, with the help of the gallery’s curator, removed a seminal Pre-Raphaelite artwork from the wall of the Manchester Art Gallery “to initiate a discussion.” My analysis of what happened was just published in Dispatches section of The New Criterion.

I am shocked! Why risqué paintings do not need warning labels

#MeToo is in the news again (still), now going after paintings with unpalatable content. My article “A Warning about the Balthus Warning,” just posted in the Dispatch section of The New Criterion. It explains why it is a very bad idea to decide whether an artwork deserves to grace museum walls based on how offensive its content might be. Even an ordained nun Sister Wendy knew better….