For Collectors of the Fine and Decorative Arts

Features From Previous Issues

A Passionate Patron

Not too long ago, a slogan for Jamaica’s tourism industry advised, “It’s not just a beach. It’s a country.” Apparently, some visitors needed to be reminded that the sun-drenched island was, in fact, an independent state with a complex society and a vibrant culture. That very goal was given a big boost in 1974 by the opening of the National Gallery of Jamaica, a government-funded repository of the country’s visual-arts patrimony. Continue reading

The Once and Future Philatelist

Now, after a half-century hiatus, I have taken up stamp collecting again. The stock market collapse of 2008—which took half my personal worth—surely played a role. I decided to invest in something besides shares and bonds. I read reports that during the global crisis stamps held their value while financial instruments, real estate and most collectibles plummeted. And my thoughts turned back to my childhood stamp collection. Why not put some of my savings into something that was familiar, emotionally satisfying and intellectually appealing? Leaning on my journalistic experience, I set upon a journey of philatelic discovery. Continue reading

The Rest is Noise

The Futurist Luigi Russolo was a lousy painter, but as a composer he was way ahead of his time. Reminiscing in the late 1950s, Igor Stravinsky recalled an evening in 1915 when he first heard the Futurist music of Luigi Russolo. “Five phonographs standing on five tables in a large and otherwise empty room emitted digestive noises, static, etc.,” he said. “I pretended to be enthusiastic and told [the Futurists] that the sets of five phonographs with such music, mass produced, would surely sell like Steinway grand pianos.” Continue reading

From the Editor: Wings of Eagles

Take a look at the forbidding Aztec warrior at left, encased in an eagle suit, and then look at the Roman bronze eagle on page 70. Not exactly birds of a feather, art-historically and stylistically speaking. But according to the curators at the Getty Villa, they had a lot in common, at least in the minds of the 16th-century Aztecs and Spaniards who are the subjects of a fascinating exhibition that opens there late this month. Continue reading

Books: My Type

Atypographical design is the ultimate “art that conceals itself.” That means you’re not supposed to notice the font you’re reading, or rather, that you’re supposed to appreciate it only subliminally, without being distracted from the substance of the text. Unless, of course, you’re a typography geek. In that case, you definitely notice. Continue reading

Symphonies of Color

Seminal advances in abstract art aren’t usually thought of as coming from Americans, especially in the early modernist period, when the avant-garde of Europe was busy revolutionizing the visual vocabulary that had held sway for hundreds of years. Nonetheless, in 1913 Stanton Macdonald-Wright and Morgan Russell, two young American expatriates in Paris, created a technique and style they called Synchromism, which represents a major step in the direction of nonobjective painting. Continue reading

Monuments to the Obscure

One might imagine that at this late date there are no more discoveries to be made in the art world, or at least no discoveries outside the realm of what the trade likes to call “emerging artists.” And yet some more or less forgotten artists continue to emerge from the obscurity into which they have been cast by prejudice or by happenstance. In this issue, we consider a few of these. Continue reading

From the Editor: Ancestral Voices

By art-world tradition, the last week in January is Americana week in New York, when the auction houses hold dedicated sales of antique furniture, silver and various forms of vernacular art. The American Antiques Show, benefiting the American Folk Art Museum, takes place at the same time, as does the Winter Antiques Show, not limited to American material but rich in it nonetheless. Continue reading

Exhibitions: Down to a Science

Virtually everyone is familiar with the phrase, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.” Now The Walters Art Museum and the Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Institute at Johns Hopkins University, both in Baltimore, are collaborating to determine what people like, and ultimately, why they like it. Continue reading

From the Editor: The Search for Authenticity

Sometimes hindsight isn’t 20–20, but that might not be a bad thing. In this issue, our columnist Jonathan Lopez writes about the academic painter James Tissot (see page 46), who is not much discussed nowadays. No matter. As Lopez shows, some of Tissot’s works, at least, provide an excellent case study of the ways in which, try as we might, we cannot recreate the past. Continue reading