Richard Dorment is the art critic of the Daily Telegraph. Among the exhibitions he has organized is “James McNeill Whistler,” seen at the Tate Gallery, London, the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. 
(June 2013)

What Is a Warhol? The Buried Evidence

Andy Warhol, New York City, 1970
After Andy Warhol died in February 1987, his will directed that a foundation should be set up in his name, funded with proceeds from the sale of some 95,000 pictures, prints, sculptures, drawings, and photographs left in his estate. Warhol’s bequest made no provision for the authentication of his artwork. But in 1994 the foundation initiated work on a multivolume catalogue raisonné of Warhol’s art. In the following year the foundation’s directors set up an authentication committee to pass judgment on artworks attributed to him.

What Andy Warhol Did

Detail of the cover of London art collector Anthony d’Offay’s copy  of the 1970 catalogue raisonné of Andy Warhol’s work, signed by Warhol in 1986 and showing the 1965 ‘Bruno B’ Red Self Portrait
The defeat was bitter but it is not irremediable. In November of last year Joe Simon-Whelan walked away from his historic lawsuit against the Andy Warhol Foundation and its Art Authentication Board. Simon-Whelan’s complaint alleged that the board had denied the authenticity of a Warhol self-portrait in his collection, despite knowing it to be genuine. The case has created enormous interest on both sides of the Atlantic, not least because unlike most controversies over the attribution of works of art, this one is in essence wonderfully clear-cut.

The Passions of Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh: Wheat Fields after the Rain, July 1890
Whether in the work of the Pre- Raphaelites, the Futurists, or the Abstract Expressionists, innovation in the visual arts has always happened when a group of progressive young artists meet, work, and exhibit together. Though the act of creation is highly personal, it rarely happens in isolation—even if, as in …

Art and Traffic

With the opening of an exhibition of nine important old master paintings from Dulwich Picture Gallery at the Frick Gallery this month, New Yorkers are at most a mere cab ride away from seeing major yet relatively little-known paintings by van Dyck and Poussin, Rembrandt, Murillo, Watteau, and Gainsborough. Even if you think you know these artists well, go anyway: these pictures rarely travel and many are atypical of the artist’s work.

What Is an Andy Warhol?

The London art collector Anthony d’Offay’s copy of the catalogue raisonné of Andy Warhol’s work compiled by Rainer Crone (1970), the cover of which was signed by Warhol in 1986. The cover image, chosen by Crone and Warhol, is the copy of Warhol’s Red Self Portrait (1965) that he dedicated to its then owner, the art dealer Bruno Bischofberger, with the inscription ‘To Bruno B Andy Warhol 1969.’ The picture is now owned by d’Offay.
In his entertaining memoir Younger Brother, Younger Son (1997), Colin Clark, a son of the art historian Kenneth Clark, recounts a story from his time working as a production assistant on the film The Prince and the Showgirl. To explain why Marilyn Monroe came across far more vividly on screen …

Primitive in Dresden

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Street, Dresden, 1908–1919. According to Richard Dorment in this review, ‘Kirchner led the way as a painter of the urban scene’ and was ‘by far the most important artist’ connected with Die Brücke.
In June 1905, four very young architecture students living in the city of Dresden—Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff—founded the artists’ group Die Brücke (The Bridge). Ranging in age from twenty to twenty-five, none was an artist by training. This meant that for each, the path …

From Shtetl to Château

Marc Chagall: Introduction to the Jewish Theater (detail), 1920. This mural and the one on page 16 are from ‘Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater, 1919–1949,’ an exhibition on view at the Jewish Museum, New York City, through March 22. The catalog of the exhibition has just been published by the museum and Yale University Press.
The painter known to the world as Marc Chagall was born Movsha (Moses) Shagal on July 7, 1887, into a poor family living on the fringes of the Russian Empire. When he died ninety-eight years later, he was the last surviving member of the School of Paris and a multimillionaire …

Lovable in Parts

Born in the American South in 1930, Jasper Johns dazzled the New York art world with his first one-man show at the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1958. The paintings of targets, flags, maps, alphabets, and numbers he exhibited in the following decade helped to lead American art away from the …

Power Portraits

The twenty-four portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence that now hang in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle represent an act of royal patronage unique in the history of British art. Not even Henry VIII’s employment of Holbein or Charles I’s of Van Dyck bears comparison with the scale of the …

Journey from ‘Nebraska’

In Brice Marden’s fifteen-foot-long horizontal frieze The Muses a skein of muted green, gray, white, and blue paint loops across a field of light celadon green. Painted between 1991 and 1993, The Muses evokes a procession of the nine daughters of Zeus as it might have been carved on the …

What Art Does

Strolling down a street in Paris one day in 1893, Pierre Bonnard spotted a pretty girl as she was stepping off a tram, followed her to her place of work, and introduced himself. Tiny, slim, and as nervous as a sparrow, she told him that her name was Marthe de …

On Hanging

From the moment the artist sells a picture or a work of sculpture, how it is displayed usually lies outside his or her control. Once the artist is dead, all decisions about where to hang or place his work, in what frame and against what color and texture, at what …

The Artistic Bloke

In 1896 the publisher William Heinemann commissioned the twenty-four-year-old artist William Nicholson to make a series of woodblock prints called “An Alphabet.” One of its best-known images, “A was an Artist,” is a self-portrait of Nicholson dressed as a pavement artist in a workingman’s waistcoat and boots, his shirt-sleeves rolled …

The Greatest

J.M.W. Turner was born in London in 1775, the only son of a Covent Garden barber and a mother so unstable that she was to die in a lunatic asylum unvisited and unmourned by her husband and child. A prodigy, Turner first trained as an architectural draftsman before the Royal …

In the Garment District

Robert Bateman, a little-known disciple of Edward Burne-Jones, exhibited his full-length portrait of his wife, Caroline, at London’s Grosvenor Gallery in 1886. She is shown walking in an autumnal landscape, by implication in the park or garden of an English country house—indicated by the ornamental urn behind her and the …

The Great Room of Art

In a famous letter to the committee of artists responsible for hanging the Royal Academy’s annual summer exhibition in 1784, Thomas Gainsborough announced that he could not possibly allow his full-length group por- trait of the three eldest daughters of George III to be hung at a height “higher than …

Genius in Exile

The year is 1908, the place Khorkom, a small village set 5,500 feet above sea level amid the spectacular mountains and valleys of western Armenia. Sedrak Adoian, a Christian Armenian from a prosperous family of traders, is emigrating to America. Early one morning he wakes his small son and daughter …

His Son the Art Dealer

Three days before Christmas in 1924, the twenty-four-year-old younger son of Henri Matisse arrived in New York with the intention of selling modern art to Americans. His success in doing so can be measured by the time he was to spend in America and by the fortune he was to …

Contretemps at Prince’s Gate

The house at 49 Prince’s Gate, London SW7, still stands on the eastern side of Exhibition Road, a wide thoroughfare laid out in the 1850s to connect the southern end of Hyde Park to the Cromwell Road. Built in 1869, this imposing white stucco mansion is typical of those found …

The Triumph of Matisse

We tend to think of Henri Matisse as the grand bourgeois of twentieth-century art. In the famous series of photographs showing him in old age surrounded by the paper cutouts with which he was then illustrating The Thousand and One Nights, he is the embodiment of material comfort and of …

The Perfectionist

William Morris may seem too large and various a character for a single book. It is possible to write about the craftsman (or, rather, the stained-glass, textile, and furniture designer, weaver, calligrapher, illuminator, gilder, and typographer) without saying anything about the poet, novelist, and translator. Then there is Morris the …