June 3, 2008 |
In August 2001, the day after her mother died at the age of 97, Anne d'Harnoncourt sat on the stoop of her grand, bohemian stone townhouse in Fitler Square, momentarily at a loss for words. It was a rare silence for d'Harnoncourt, a woman who savored words as if they were chocolate truffles, luxuriating in their sounds and the complexity - or simplicity - of their meaning. I had spent three months that year working on a profile of her, researching her life and observing her among colleagues and students, the museum's staff and wealthy donors, with her husband and the public.
March 2, 2007 |
Considering the number of major works by Marcel Duchamp that have been on view in the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Arensberg Collection since the early 1950s, it's not surprising that his influence is reflected in the work of many of this city's artists. Then again, Duchamp's shadow is sometimes shorter than it seems. Gerald Nichols, a regional artist who has an exhibition of paintings and recent constructions at Arcadia University Art Gallery, looks at first to have a kinship with Duchamp - he uses found objects and leaves them intact, among other things - but his sensibility is actually closer to that of the surrealist Joseph Cornell, who was a fan of Duchamp's art and was, at one time, his assistant (Duchamp likewise admired Cornell's boxes and collages)
February 27, 2007 |
In the art of Thomas Chimes, not to mention the conversation, there's always a back story, or two or three. There's always another idea, another citation, another memory, another theory, another poet or writer or artist to bring toward the surface, then submerge again, behind layers of paint, or layers of ideas, until just barely visible, a reduction. You see, even at 85, the mind of Thomas Chimes will come easily to a boil - just ask him about his main man, the late-19th-century mustachioed and chapeauxed French absurdist writer Alfred Jarry, and it's off to the races - but the artist in him turns down the heat.
May 21, 2003 |
Up the stairs, turning left, right, left, the map of the labyrinthine Philadelphia Museum of Art leads you into a darkened room. Projected on the wall is a profusion of images - some snatched from Bette Davis movies, others from documentaries - while musicians are playing a free-form mixture of jazz, blues, parlor songs and Sousa marches. Around the room are glass cases full of Liberty Bell kitsch - paperweights, chocolates - while the film examines the bell's crack like a doctor preparing for surgery.
April 28, 2000 |
Black and gray never seemed so entrancing as they do in Michael Olszewski's new fabric constructions at Schmidt/Dean Gallery. They may be the colors of melancholy and death, but in his hands they become beguiling and sensuous. Some pieces do feel elegiac, but in a style that's so elegant, restrained and tasteful that it precludes sentimentality or mawkishness. Olszewski's fabric collages are enhanced with various kinds of marks applied with stitching. Particularly with the grays, he orchestrates an impressive variety of moods and effects.
April 9, 2000 |
If there are any Marcel Duchamp fans among delegates to this summer's Republican National Convention here, they're going to be disappointed. The Philadelphia Museum of Art's 20th-century wing, including its preeminent collection of Duchamp's art, closed down quietly several weeks ago, and will remain closed through October. The galleries devoted to Duchamp and sculptor Constantin Brancusi are the highlights of the 20th-century wing, which is undergoing renovation and upgrading of its electrical, lighting and climate-control systems.
October 23, 1997 |
Yes, it's shocking, disturbing, even infuriating, but is it art? An exhibition across the Atlantic has reignited the infamous fight over the line between art and its commoner cousin, sensationalism. A Royal Academy of Arts show in London titled, candidly enough, "Sensation," includes a huge portrait of a convicted child killer made from children's tiny handprints and a glass box containing a rotting cow's head complete with live flies and maggots. Indeed, the only overarching theme binding the works seems to be shock value.
June 29, 1997 |
Steve Everitt's eyes widen. He is surrounded by the Art Museum's definitive Marcel Duchamp collection. To get here, Everitt has walked past paintings by Van Gogh and Renoir, Pollock and Chagall. He has stopped along the way, quietly admiring some canvases, squinting dubiously at others, just like any young artist with a head full of opinions. But it is here that Everitt's voice rises in excitement for the first time, here among the "readymades" and Nude Descending a Staircase and the Large Glass that he lets out a soft whistle.
December 15, 1996 |
To know the art, it helps to know the artists. That's easy to do this holiday season, thanks to a group of new biographies about several key figures in Western art history. The parade begins with The Painter of Modern Life (Random House, $55), the second installment in John Richardson's magisterial multi-volume A Life of Picasso. The first book, published five years ago, indicated that Richardson's effort would be something special, and not just because of its length. It was thoroughly researched, beautifully balanced in its assessments and delightfully readable.
June 7, 1995 |
Richard Torchia's last curatorial effort for Moore College of Art and Design is an exhibition that is long overdue in Philadelphia - a retrospective for city native William Anastasi, a prominent figure in the conceptual art movement of the 1960s. Torchia, curator of Moore's Levy Gallery for eight years, resigned several weeks ago to pursue his own art. He leaves with a flourish; the Anastasi show, which occupies all of the college's gallery spaces, is one of the most significant chapters of his curatorial career.