Jed Perl’s Calder: The Conquest of Time, the first volume of his biography of the American sculptor, will be published in October. (May 2017)

IN THE REVIEW

The Confidence Man of American Art

Robert Rauschenberg: Persimmon, 1964; from Rauschenberg’s series of oil and silkscreen-ink print paintings in which, Jed Perl writes, ‘photographs of President Kennedy, crowded city streets, space travel, and a nude by Rubens come together to suggest a modernized version of the emotional fireworks we know from Baroque altarpieces.’

Robert Rauschenberg

an exhibition at Tate Modern, London, December 1, 2016–April 2, 2017; the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, May 21, 2017–September 17, 2017; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, November 4, 2017–March 25, 2018
Robert Rauschenberg was a showman, a trickster, a shaman, and a charmer. In the retrospective that recently closed at Tate Modern in London and will be arriving at the Museum of Modern Art in New York this May, museumgoers are confronted with many different things: the imprint of an automobile tire; a couple of rocks tied with pieces of rope or string; paintings that are all white, all black, or all red; a sheet and pillow spattered with paint; a drawing by Willem de Kooning that Rauschenberg erased; deconstructed corrugated cardboard boxes; bright silken banners; a blinking light; a taxidermied Angora goat; mixed-media works mounted on wheels so as to be easily moved around; and paintings packed with photographic images. Rauschenberg’s career is the fool’s errand of twentieth-century American art.

Cool, Sublime, Idealistic Diebenkorn

Richard Diebenkorn: Window, 92 x 80 inches, 1967

Matisse/Diebenkorn

an exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art, October 23, 2016–January 29, 2017; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, March 11–May 29, 2017

Richard Diebenkorn: The Catalogue Raisonné

edited by Jane Livingston and Andrea Liguori
Universal acceptance, however desired, has its problems. The critics and historians, as they heap on the praise and outdo one another in feats of analytical subtlety, can smooth out the quirks and complexities that give an artist’s work its stand-alone power. Richard Diebenkorn was beginning to receive this kind of …

‘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

Rodin

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.

NYR DAILY

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.

NYR CALENDAR