Sanford Schwartz is the author of Christen Købke and William Nicholson. (May 2016)


Art That Reclaims the Ignored

Small clay sculptures from Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s series Suddenly This Overview (1981–present), which depict, according to Sanford Schwartz, ‘historical events, moments that might have been, and visualizations of age-old sayings and concepts we believe we ought to know,’ as well as ‘everyday scenes and objects.’ Clockwise from top left: Book and Reader, Galileo Galilei Shows Two Monks That the World Is Round, The Alchemist I, and The Dog of the Inventor of the Wheel Feels the Satisfaction of His Master.

Peter Fischli David Weiss: How to Work Better

an exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, February 5–April 27, 2016; and the Museo Jumex, Mexico City, June 9–September 17, 2016
Delightful and funny aren’t words one regularly associates with contemporary art, but they certainly fit aspects of the work of Peter Fischli and David Weiss. At least, I heard a fair amount of giggling at the Guggenheim Museum’s beautifully laid-out retrospective of the Swiss collaborative team. Not that they were …

The Lure of Life on the Missouri

George Caleb Bingham: Fur Traders Descending the Missouri, 29 1/4 x 36 1/4 inches, 1845

Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham and the River

an exhibition at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, October 2, 2014–January 18, 2015; the Saint Louis Art Museum, February 22–May 17, 2015; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, June 17–September 20, 2015
There is a lovely stylishness and sense of artificiality about the paintings George Caleb Bingham made of fur traders and boatmen on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. In pictures that date mostly from the latter half of the 1840s and seem to take place in the early hours of a …

The Lost Voice of Art

Kenneth Clark, circa 1941

Kenneth Clark: Looking for Civilisation

an exhibition at Tate Britain, London, May 19–August 10, 2014.

The Books That Shaped Art History: From Gombrich and Greenberg to Alpers and Krauss

edited by Richard Shone and John-Paul Stonard
It is a rare event for an art museum to do a large and ambitious exhibition about a person who was not a visual artist. But then Kenneth Clark, the subject of such a show now at Tate Britain, was for some five decades a unique figure in the cultural …


Quiet, Sensuous Piero

Piero della Francesca: Saint Jerome in the Wilderness, 20 1/8 x 15 inches, 1450

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Piero della Francesca: Personal Encounters,” is the first ever exhibition about Piero’s devotional works. They are small-size paintings created for bedrooms or set-apart areas in the home. In spirit they take us to much the same austere and bare-bones realm as his more public pictures. Yet they present more directly and pleasurably the qualities that make Piero such a special figure, even by the heady standards of the fifteenth century, when so many Italian and Flemish artists, were finding one personal way after another to portray the actual, corporeal world they lived in.

Anselm Kiefer, in Love with Loss

A still from Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow showing Anselm Kiefer's 'tottering, bunker-like' structures

Over the years, Kiefer’s work, continually summoning up Bible stories, wartime legends, and mystical awarenesses, has become woozily grandiloquent. He is an extraordinary showman, however. His pictures, where model ships or women’s frocks are often placed atop images of endless fields, the sea, or forests, can have a phenomenal physical presence. He is a master transformer of materials. From the first he made lead, steel, straw, glass, or crumbly clumps of cement with rebar sticking out bespeak fragility and delicacy.

Otto Dix, Our Contemporary

This summer, the Neue Galerie in New York is offering the first large-scale American exhibition of the gleefully provocative German painter Otto Dix (1891–1969)—providing a rare opportunity, as New York Review contributor Sanford Schwartz says, “to appreciate an artist who could almost be our contemporary.” Here are a selection of images from the show, together with comments taken from Schwartz’s piece on Dix, which will appear in the Review‘s August 19 issue. The exhibition closes August 30. (Images provided by Neue Galerie New York.)

Innocuous Items Gone Creepily Wrong: Taking the Pulse of Art in New York

New Yorkers currently have two large exhibitions with which to take the pulse of contemporary art, and neither shows the patient feeling altogether well. At the Whitney Biennial, this time around presenting many videos along with paintings, installations, and artists’ collaboratives performing music, the spirit is retiring, docile, and a little like spending an afternoon at some lackluster shows in Chelsea.