Jack Flam is Distinguished Professor of Art History at Brooklyn College and at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His new book, Matisse and Picasso: The Story of Their Rivalry and Friendship, has just been published. (March 2003)


Twin Peaks

Matisse Picasso

Catalog of the exhibition by Elizabeth Cowling, John Golding, Anne Baldassari, Isabelle Monod-Fontaine, John Elderfield, and Kirk Varnedoe
One day during the 1930s, Henri Matisse walked through the door of La Coupole on the Boulevard du Montparnasse and a visible thrill ran through the restaurant. As waiters raced forward to greet him Matisse turned to his companion and murmured, not without an edge of irritation, “They think I’m …

The Road to Minimalism

The Sculptural Imagination: Figurative, Modernist, Minimalist

by Alex Potts
Sometime around 1960, the painter Ad Reinhardt defined sculpture as “something you bump into when you back up to look at a painting.” This summed up the longstanding prejudice against sculpture, which for centuries had been considered an art that was distinctly inferior to painting. Leonardo da Vinci famously argued …

Space Men

Paths to the Absolute: Mondrian, Malevich, Kandinsky, Pollock, Newman, Rothko, and Still

John Golding
During its heyday in the late 1950s, abstract painting seemed to be at the center of modern art. Painting nonrepresentationally, which was then still considered a fairly radical practice, had become more or less synonymous with painting seriously—in fact, at the time many held that it was the only serious …

The New Painting

Origins of Impressionism 27, 1994-January 8, 1995

an exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September

Origins of Impressionism

catalog of the exhibition by Gary Tinterow and Henri Loyrette
When a loosely associated group of rebellious French painters began to exhibit together in 1874, in what is now commonly referred to as the first of the original “Impressionist” exhibitions, they did not so define themselves. Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Cézanne, Degas, and the others who took part in the exhibition …

Madonna in Distress

The controversy generated by the recent cleaning of Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel has brought the technical methods and aesthetic judgments of painting conservators under unprecedented scrutiny. It has also made art historians acutely aware of how different the works they study today look from when they were made; …

The Agonies of Success

Mark Rothko: A Biography

by James E.B. Breslin
The life of Mark Rothko was filled with unhappiness and ended in tragedy. Born in 1903 and generally acknowledged to be one of the most important Abstract Expressionist painters, he suffered decades of disappointment and neglect, and endured painful personal losses and crushing poverty before he finally achieved recognition. His …

Passions of Matisse

Henri Matisse: A Retrospective 1992–January 12, 1993

an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York September 24,

Henri Matisse: A Retrospective

catalog of the exhibition by John Elderfield
In 1950 Bernard Berenson visited Henri Matisse at his apartment in the Hotel Regina overlooking Nice. Berenson, who had been one of Matisse’s early supporters, was irritated to find that the man whom he chose to remember as a starving young Fauve now displayed a seigneurial self-absorption even grander than …