The Keir Collection of Islamic Art at the Dallas Museum of Art Review
3 May 2017 ~ Wall Street Journal
In the spring of 2014, crates arriving from London at the Dallas Museum of Art marked the start of a 15-year, renewable loan of almost 2,000 objects. Made between the seventh and the 19th centuries in Muslim societies from the Mediterranean to India, they include ceramics with glazes of deep blue-green and lustrous gold; illuminated manuscripts and miniature paintings; bronze vessels decorated with silver and copper inlay; flasks made of rock crystal as transparent as ice; and textiles rich with scenes and patterns. Assembled by Edmund de Unger (1918-2011), the trove is considered one of the world’s finest private collections of Islamic art. read more
Whose Painting Is It Anyway?
13 April 2017 ~ Wall Street Journal
Seldom does a show subvert expectations as subtly and deftly as “Inventing Utamaro: A Japanese Masterpiece Rediscovered” at the Smithsonian’s Freer-Sackler. The somewhat ambiguous title seems to herald definitive information about the three large-scale paintings filling the central gallery. Instead, the show highlights the controversy over their authorship, leaving us to ponder whether Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806) himself might not be the masterly creation in question. read review
Treasures of Nation-Building
10 April 2017 ~ Wall Street Journal
Two thousand-year-old terra-cotta horses, mustachioed officers, and kneeling archers in suits of armor may be a familiar stand-in for ancient China, yet the sight of them continues to amaze. In “Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B.C-A.D. 220),” the stately demeanor of six close-to-life-size figures sets the tone for an exhibition whose principal aim is to impress on visitors how the Qin (221-206 B.C.) and the Han (206 B.C.-A.D. 220) cumulatively shaped China. While borders shrank and expanded over the millennia that followed, the template Qin and Han rulers developed during their four centuries in power persisted: a unified—though hardly uniform—state with centralized governance and a shared identity. read full review
Big Stories in Small Packages
23 March 2017 ~ Wall Street Journal
Some of the works don’t even fill a square inch and others are wonderfully endearing—witness the 19th-century incense holder that a Japanese nun fashioned in the shape of a smiling, pot-bellied creature. Yet “Show Me the Mini” at the Harn Museum of Art is hardly a roundup of tiny, cute objects from across Asia. If it were, Japanese netsuke would be front and center, and the show has not a one. Instead, the exhibition uses an eclectic array of small Asian works from the permanent collection to highlight universal themes—from games, worship, and art genres to people’s desire for keepsakes and the vagaries of visual perception. read review
5 December 2016 ~ Christian Science Monitor
. . . . Since humans first painted on cave walls and chipped stone into objects, they have seen their handiwork succumb to floods, earthquakes, and, in recent centuries, the incessant march of industrialization and modernity. Today, additional destructive elements are also rasping away at the past – from terrorists to global warming. In the first 10 years of this century, UNESCO added 17 cultural sites to its List of World Heritage in Danger. In the past six years, that number jumped to 27 and, for the past decade, the WMF has been so alarmed at the devastation wreaked by war and natural disasters that it has begun including entire countries, such as Iraq and Nepal, on its biennial watchlist of sites.
Experts agree that, as Randall Mason of the University of Pennsylvania puts it, preservation is “not just a kind of artistic interest of rich people.” All of us are preservationists, he says. We pass down family Bibles, an ancestor’s pocket watch, the letter a great-grandmother received from the old country. Social groups, too, have what scholars call a collective memory that is associated with their physical surroundings. The legacy of monuments, buildings, and old town squares informs our very identities. . . read full article