Jed Perl’s latest book is the first volume of his biography of ­Alexander Calder, The Conquest of Time. (November 2018)

IN THE REVIEW

Romanticism’s Unruly Hero

Eugène Delacroix: Ovid Among the Scythians, 1859

Delacroix

an exhibition at the Musée du Louvre, Paris, March 29–July 23, 2018; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, September 17, 2018–January 6, 2019

Devotion to Drawing: The Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix

an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, July 17–November 12, 2018
Color is Eugène Delacroix’s hero. He fights for color. He lives for color. His oil paintings are luxurious orchestrations of feverish reds, velvety blues, dusky purples, astringent oranges, and shimmering greens. In his works on paper, some of the same colors, presented as isolated elements, become refreshingly austere. There is nothing that this giant of nineteenth-century French painting cannot do with color. If his art is uneasy, it’s because his color is never easy. He flirts with chromatic chaos. He yearns for chromatic catharsis. “The very sight of my palette,” he once wrote, “freshly set out with the colors in their contrasts is enough to fire my enthusiasm.” However alien we may find some of his gaudy fantasies and megalomaniacal ambitions, there is no question that he is an artist who knows how to fill our eyes.

The Universal Eye

Pablo Picasso: Three Bathers by the Shore, 1920

Obsession: Nudes by Klimt, Schiele, and Picasso from the Scofield Thayer Collection

an exhibition at the Met Breuer, New York City, July 3–October 7, 2018

The Psychology of an Art Writer

by Vernon Lee
The English writer Clive Bell called it “significant form.” Later generations of artists, critics, and historians, rejecting Bell’s elegant coinage, favored “formalism,” a more clinical term for more clinical times. Whatever the nomenclature, a conviction that the power of the visual arts is grounded in lines, shapes, colors, and compositions …

The Art of Elsewhere

Edward Gorey: Haunted America, 1990

Gorey’s Worlds

an exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut, February 10–May 6, 2018; and the Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington, June 23–September 30, 2018
Edward Gorey’s art is one of disjuncture. His narratives are often closer to prose poems than to short stories, much less novels. For nearly fifty years Gorey sent dispatches from a dream world where Edwardian grandees cross paths with temptresses in flapper dresses, children confront animals nobody has ever seen before, and eerily depopulated interiors and landscapes leave us feeling that calamity is just around the corner.

Peter and His Kind

Peter Hujar: Daniel Schook Sucking Toe, 1981

Peter Hujar: Speed of Life

an exhibition at the Fundación MAPFRE, Barcelona, January 27–April 30, 2017; Fotomuseum The Hague, June 17–October 15, 2017; the Morgan Library and Museum, New York City, January 26–May 20, 2018; and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, July 11–October 7, 2018
This is what the great photographer Brassaï, who spent a lifetime recording the merry-go-round of twentieth-century Paris, had to say about his work: “I hunt for what is permanent.” Peter Hujar, who photographed New York and died in the city in 1987, could have said the same thing. Hujar’s achievement, …

The Art of Pleasure

Pierre-August Renoir: Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1880–1881

Renoir and Friends: Luncheon of the Boating Party

an exhibition at the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., October 7, 2017–January 7, 2018

Renoir: An Intimate Biography

by Barbara Ehrlich White
Opinion remains unsettled about Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who died nearly a hundred years ago, in 1919. There are museumgoers who recoil from what they regard as the saccharine sweetness of his portraits and nudes, which earned him a place among the most universally beloved artists of the twentieth century. Some suspect …

A Visionary of the Real

Donald Judd at an exhibition of his work at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, 1970

Donald Judd Writings

edited by Flavin Judd and Caitlin Murray
The writings of Donald Judd are triumphantly matter-of-fact. The sculptor, who died in 1994 at the age of sixty-five, was decisive even about his second thoughts and doubts. “Cocksure certainty and squirming uncertainty are both wrong,” he once wrote. “It’s possible to think and act without being simple and fanatic …

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