Jed Perl is the author of Antoine’s Alphabet: Watteau and His World. He is currently working on the first full-length biography of Alexander Calder. (September 2016)


‘Panthers After the Kill’

Jean-Antoine Watteau: The Portal of Valenciennes, circa 1710–1711

Watteau’s Soldiers: Scenes of Military Life in Eighteenth-Century France

an exhibition at the Frick Collection, New York City, July 12–October 2, 2016
There are painters who aim for a direct, blunt-force power. They marshal colors, shapes, figures, signs, and symbols to convey the strongest possible experiences and emotions. Caravaggio was that kind of painter. So was Rogier van der Weyden, at least when he painted a Crucifixion. In the work of these …

Which Matisse Do You Choose?

Henri Matisse: Icarus, plate VIII in his book Jazz, 1947; from the Morgan Library and Museum’s recent exhibition ‘Graphic Passion: Matisse and the Book Arts’

Matisse in the Barnes Foundation

edited by Yve-Alain Bois

Graphic Passion: Matisse and the Book Arts

an exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum, New York City, October 30, 2015–January 18, 2016
The search for patterns, root causes, and overarching forces is universal, shaping thought about the visual arts as it does every other field of inquiry. But there are times when this search, admirable and essential as it is, can blind us to the powerful part that less predictable forces play …

In the Sculptor’s Studio: Calder & Stella

Frank Stella: The Whiteness of the Whale (IRS-1, 2X), paint on aluminum, 149 x 121 3/4 x 45 1/4 inches, 1987

Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture

Frank Stella: A Retrospective

Picasso, a painter who from time to time turned to sculpture, was neither the first nor the last artist to explore the rival attractions of two very different disciplines. Five hundred years ago, Leonardo da Vinci, who mastered the art of sculpture as well as the art of painting, delighted …

In the Sculptor’s Studio

The renovated Rodin Museum in Paris, which reopened to the public on November 12, 2015, on the 175th anniversary of Rodin’s birth. At right is Rodin’s sculpture The Three Shades (before 1886).

Rodin: The Laboratory of Creation


by Raphaël Masson and Véronique Mattiussi, translated from the French by Deke Dusinberre, with a foreword by Jacques Vilain, revised and reissued on the occasion of the reopening of the Musée Rodin
The reopening in Paris of the Musée Rodin—all its subtleties and surprises only sharpened and freshened by a three-year renovation—is one of a series of events occurring almost simultaneously in cities on two continents that, if taken together, offer new opportunities to explore Rodin’s power and influence as they resonate through several generations. We are at a moment in the arts when historical reckonings, involving as they do considerations of precedent, genealogy, and chronology, can too easily be dismissed as reactionary gestures, canonical considerations to be tossed aside. There is all the more reason to press for a reconsideration of the tradition that begins with Rodin.

The Perils of Painting Now

Richard Diebenkorn: Studio Wall, 1963

The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World

an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, December 14, 2014–April 5, 2015
Like the reports of the end of history that we have been hearing, the many reports of the death of painting have no basis in reality. Painting flourishes—in the studios of artists, in galleries in New York’s Chelsea, Lower East Side, Williamsburg, and Bushwick, as well as in galleries around …


Midnight Movies of the Mind

“The photographer Duane Michals is a law unto himself,” writes Jed Perl in the Review’s February 19, 2015 issue. “In a career spanning more than half a century he has worked in both utilitarian black-and-white and luxuriant color, produced slapstick self-portraits, evoked erotic daydreams, pamphleteered against art world fashions, and painted whimsical abstract designs on vintage photographs. You would be in for a disappointment if you expected a sober summing up in “Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals,” the big retrospective of the eighty-two-year-old artist’s career that is currently at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. Michals remains aggressively idiosyncratic, the curator of his own overstuffed, beguiling, disorderly imagination.” Here we present a series of Michals’s photo-sequences, with commentary drawn from Perl’s piece.