Art Critics

Art Critics

‘What’s With the Psychosexually Complicated White Men?’: Questions for Deborah Solomon, Norman Rockwell Biographer

'Before the Shot' (1958) by Norman Rockwell.

“It so pisses me off.”

On a Friday afternoon earlier this month, Deborah Solomon was reclining on a sofa in her Upper West Side apartment complaining about the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For years, she has been telling the Met to hang one of its Norman Rockwells, a 1943 study for his classic Freedom of Speech, which shows a lone man rising to speak in a crowded room (“It’s a good one!”), but they are not so eager to accommodate her request. “Every time I see Tom Campbell, he runs away from me,” she said, speaking of the museum’s director.

Rockwell and his perky scenes of Boy Scout-approved living have been deeply unfashionable with most curators and critics for decades, but Ms. Solomon makes a valiant case for him in a new biography, American Mirror, just published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. She positions him as a progenitor of Pop Art and photorealism and finds quite a bit of darkness in his work and his life. It’s Ms. Solomon’s third book and arrives just as she is returning to work as a practicing art critic (“my spiritual or intellectual home”), on WNYC. It took more than a decade to finish, a stretch prolonged by her not-uncontroversial reign as the “Questions For” columnist at The New York Times Magazine from 2003 to 2011. Read More

Art Critics

Why Not Watch a 21-Minute Video of a Lucy Lippard Talk This Friday Afternoon?


I just did, and really enjoyed it. It’s of a lecture that the redoubtable critic gave last Saturday at the Creative Time Summit called “Location/Dislocation.” Lots of good stuff here, including discussion of topics like rural gentrification and land art as “a pseudo rural art.” Also, spoiler alert, she reveals that Tom Ford is one of her neighbors in New Mexico. He lives on a 25,000-acre ranch. (That’s about 39 square miles.) Read More

Art Critics

Edith Wharton and Bernard Bernenson Were Not Fans of Leonardo’s ‘Last Supper’

The work. (WikiMedia)

In her new biography Bernard Berenson: A Life in the Picture Trade, which was just published by the Yale University Press, Rachel Cohen offers up a nice little anecdote about the mutual distaste that the Old Master scholar Bernard Berenson and his good friend Edith Wharton had for Leonardo da Vinci and in particular his Last Supper (1494–98). (If you’ve read Ernest Samuels’s 1979 Berenson bio you have gotten a version of it, but I think it’s worth repeating.) Read More

Art Critics

There Are Fewer Than 10 Full-Time Art Critics in the U.S. [Updated]

Henry McBride, who was an art critic for The New York Sun in the 1920s, in a painting by Florine Stettheimer. (Courtesy Smith College)

Since it’s a pretty nice day out, I figured it might be an okay time to share some fairly depressing news, which you may have just read in the headline above: there are now less than 10 full-time art critics working at newspapers and magazines in the United States. This comes to us via Deborah Solomon on her recent WNYC appearance. (It seems that Chicago’s edition of Time Out laid off its art critic last month.) At least we can all celebrate that the majority of the survivors work in New York. Read More

Art Critics

Jerry Saltz Buys a Fake Richter

The Richter record-setter. (Courtesy Getty Images)

If you’re a dedicated reader of Jerry Saltz’s column in New York magazine, or his Facebook page, you know that the art critic takes issue with the ever-increasing prices seen at auction houses these days and has put out a call to talented forgers to make recreations of works by some of his favorite artists. Read More

Art Critics

‘Vice’ Columnist Learns to ‘Get’ Art

(Courtesy Vice)

The Vice columnist “Glen Coco”  just penned a piece “Ok, Do It: Teach Me How to ‘Get’ Art,” in which the self-professed art-know-nothing enlists the help of one Alex, a student at the Courtauld Institute of Art to help him “get” art. This follow-up to two earlier pieces, “I Don’t “Get” Art,” and “I Still Don’t Get Art,” makes a blatantly insincere effort, à la Morley Safer in his recent 60 Minutes segment, to understand art. Read More