Why do we keep talking about ‘Islamic art?’

First of all the term "Islamic Art" is disingenuous and intellectually dishonest, as it suggests the art is religious in nature. The truth is the art was merely produced by a wide variety of cultures in predominantly Islamic regions. The term "Islamic Art" makes as much sense as "Catholic Art" as a blanket term for … Continue reading Why do we keep talking about ‘Islamic art?’

Escaping art history’s little boxes

It's the difference between a crisp line drawing and modeled, shaded painting with plenty of blurred lines.  Not as easy to describe in short sentences, but oh so rewarding.  That's how I feel about the shift in art history from a discipline of strict categories and linear progress to one that celebrates the porousness of … Continue reading Escaping art history’s little boxes

Beauty and meaning in a Roman villa’s paintings

Nobody knows who the villa belonged to except that they were wealthy, Roman, and keen to dazzle guests with their lavish residence on the flanks of Mount Vesuvius.  Not far from Pompeii in the town of Torre Annunziata, the 1st century villa was consumed by lava in the eruption of 79, an eruption so violent that it altered … Continue reading Beauty and meaning in a Roman villa’s paintings

Malawi’s Rock art

Moses Mkumpha is a quiet man with unrushed movements and a thorough approach.  Watching him dust a basket and meticulously bag every strand that broke off, it was clear that he had the perfect temperament for a conservator.  And listening to the respect with which he spoke about the history contained in Malawi's rock art, the ruins … Continue reading Malawi’s Rock art

One of many treats of Asia week

Such a delight to see works by one of my favorite painters, An Ho, alongside a painting (on the right) by her teacher Pu Ru, one the last scholar artists of China.  There is also a marvelous hanging scroll of a tiger that Pu Ru and An Ho painted together. China 2000 Fine Art is showing some of An Ho's … Continue reading One of many treats of Asia week

Mirroring Devotion

One of the things I love about religious art is the occasional blurring of the line between an object intended to inspire devotion and the depiction of devotion itself.  This happens in pretty much all religious traditions, but for whatever reason it struck me recently at "Buddhist Art of Myanmar," currently on view at the Asia Society Museum … Continue reading Mirroring Devotion

The mighty “Strange Case of Henry Darger”

Know the work of Henry Darger?   Well last weekend, the paintings, collages, drawings and mad musings of this reclusive, compulsive man came alive through a play by Judith Kampfner.  It was just a reading of The Strange Case of Henry Darger and only of excerpts at that, yet utterly engrossing.  We got a glimpse into the mind whose phantasmagoria of children, monsters, … Continue reading The mighty “Strange Case of Henry Darger”

Ah, the beautiful world of craft art…

Great to dip back into the world of craft art -- or whatever name you want to call first-rate works made in clay, glass, wood, metal,…  At the New York Ceramics and Glass Fair I reconnected with Cliff Lee, a ceramist whose work I had written about in 2010  for American Style.   Five years, I now … Continue reading Ah, the beautiful world of craft art…