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    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

    Books: Winter’s Tales

    Books are among the most inexhaustible of presents; long after the New Year they remain to give pleasure till next December and beyond. That is especially true of art books, and Art & Antiques’ editors have picked some choice volumes to delight and inform the collector and curious reader. Continue reading

    From the Editor: Fifty Years Ago—and Tomorrow

    As 2009 comes to a close (and not a moment too soon, for many in the art world), we are being asked, from several quarters, to cast our minds back 50 years to 1959. That’s not for nostalgic reasons, but in order to understand where we are today. According to author Fred Kaplan, 1959 was “the year everything changed.” Continue reading

    Collecting: Made in the Shade

    Mezzotint allows artists to portray the world in all its many shades of gray. The printmaking technique, invented in 1642, renders the infinite subtleties of the tones that lie between black and white in a manner ideal for reproducing oil paintings. “Most reproductive techniques until then relied on line,” says Sheila O’Connell, assistant keeper of prints and drawings at the British Museum. “Mezzotint allows smoother transitions between line and shade.” Continue reading

    Books: Magical Realism

    This book is about Giambattista Tiepolo, the superbly energetic Venetian master of frescoed ceilings and inheritor of the mantle of Paolo Veronese. But it’s also about serpents, symbols, sacrifices, Persian magi, Chaldean oracles and ritual magic. None of which should surprise anyone who is familiar with the delightfully subversive scholarship and essayistic verve of Roberto Calasso, the Italian book publisher (his firm, Adelphi Edizioni, is headquartered in Milan) and writer on a wide variety of cultural subjects. Continue reading

    Books: A Kleptocrat’s Collection

    The great complexities of provenance research are little known to those outside the profession. Claimants of looted art, lawyers, judges and most journalists, unaware of the difficulties, often think that the exact history of a work of art is easily found. In her extraordinary book on the paintings collection of Hermann Goering, Nancy H. Yeide, chief of provenance research at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., makes clear that that is not the case. Continue reading