James Stourton’s magnificent biography tells the story of Kenneth Clark’s life in all its complexity and contradiction. It also reminds us that in his time Clark himself developed an innovative method for studying works of art—one that struck a balance between the then-prevailing disciplines of connoisseurship on the one hand and iconography on the other. And just as the Tate Britain exhibition showed the misses as well as the hits, the story Stourton tells makes it clear that Clark’s apparently gilded career was marked by almost as many failures as successes. The time has come to look at the achievements of a man whose vision influenced the art-viewing habits of generations.
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.
Unlike Impressionism or Cubism, Abstract Expressionism was not a style or a movement. What the five pioneers had in common was not a shared aesthetic, a painting technique, or a manifesto but a sense of the overwhelming importance of art, a bedrock belief in the power of painting to address ideas and emotions at the deepest level.
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.