Art

  • April 21, 2014

    The sumptuous colors, dazzling brushwork and sheer drama in the paintings of Anders Zorn (1860-1920) earned the Swedish artist fortune and fame during the Gilded Age. But Zorn’s work and name gradually fell into obscurity outside Sweden. As a result, his brilliant body of work has not been shown in the United States for 100 years—until now.

  • March 3, 2014

    The Jewishness of Jesus has seldom been rendered more clearly in art than in the crucifixion scenes of Marc Chagall. Although he was not the only Jewish artist to focus on the crucifixion, Chagall (1887–1985) made so many crucifixion images over his long lifetime that some have called the habit an obsession.

  • December 23-30, 2013

    Well before globalization and technology unified the world, trade in textiles wove it both practically and sumptuously together. In the Age of Discovery that began in the early 16th century, ships sailing from Europe to the East to find new routes for the spice trade carried textiles with them and brought even more home. Originating in China, Japan, India, Southeast Asia, Turkey and Iran, the textiles often functioned as currency and gradually became even...

  • The Jewishness of Jesus has seldom been rendered more clearly in art than in the crucifixion scenes of Marc Chagall. Of the 31 paintings and 22 works on paper in “Chagall: Love, War and Exile” (on view until Feb. 2, 2014, at the Jewish Museum in New York City), the handful of crucifixions are most provocative. In these, and in dozens of other crucifixions not shown here but searchable online,...

  • You know how sometimes you find yourself slogging through a literally and figuratively Big Novel thinking “This ‘work’ is long merely for sake of acquiring the Heft of Importance”—and “I’m 400 pages into this thing but still think I’m going to cut bait, rather than keep throwing good mental money after bad.” Not so with the wonderful “Living by the Book” show at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. This small exhibit is packed with remarkable treasures and illuminating ideas. At the risk of...

  • For students of the American Civil War, it’s hard to imagine a better classroom this summer than the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Two sterling exhibitions there, one entirely devoted to photography, the other chiefly to painting, illumine the years from the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861, to General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, on April 9, 1865.

  • August 12-19, 2013

    Sometimes a museum is more than a place to preserve and present great works of art. Sometimes it carries its visitors into another world. The exhibit, Illuminating Faith: The Eucharist in Medieval Life and Art, on display through Sept. 15 at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, provides a beautiful display of illuminated manuscripts from the late middle ages (mainly the 12th to the 14th centuries) but also a glimpse into the attitudes and...

  • June 17, 2013

    Just weeks before Pope Francis, in his inaugural homily, explicitly urged listeners to protect the environment, two art exhibitions opened in New York City, both of which explore the environmental theme through extraordinary renderings of birds. Surely Pope Francis, whose namesake is the patron saint of ecology and a world-renowned lover of birds, would be pleased. The two exhibits, one by an American artist, the other by Japanese artists, are mutually...

  • You’ve probably noticed that in many paintings of the Adoration of the Magi, the youngest of the three kings is a black man. You may know that this convention began in the last quarter of the 15th century, and also that “Balthazar,” as he came to be named, represented Africa, while the eldest king stood for Europe and the middle-aged king for the East. But did you ever wonder who stood as the models of “Balthazar” for artists from Hans Memling to Romare Bearden?

  • March 25, 2013

    "Crucifixion,” a wall-sized oil painting created by Renato Guttuso (1911-87), one of Italy’s finest modern painters, is widely recognized as a 20th-century masterpiece today. But a year after the painting was unveiled in Rome in 1941, during World War II, it sparked controversy. Guttuso, who had made an international debut by winning first prize at the prestigious Premio Bergamo in 1938, was in the process of establishing an international reputation...