Vernacular, in an academic or art-speak context, is a word worthy of healthy suspicion. It is used to designate populist styles, to suggest a common language that bubbles up from below rather than a discourse dictated from on high. It’s generally freighted with ideas about authenticity: vernacular styles are … Continue Reading Vernacular Urbanism?
Not easy to find this review today, but it did run. The show is excellent and both a lot of fun and rather disturbing. I spend much of my review on the morality and the ethics of embracing destruction as actual artistic praxis, but there’s a lot more to the … Continue Reading Damage Control at the Hirshhorn
Last week I wrote a short piece about a carpet known as the Armenian Orphan Rug, woven by orphan refugees of the Armenian genocide, given to President Calvin Coolidge, and now too hot politically to be taken out of storage. The White House responded to my request for comment with … Continue Reading Recent Stories
Two recent Washington Post pieces were somewhat hard to find on the website, so I post them here. One deals with the controversy in Detroit over the possibility that the Detroit Institute of Arts may have to sell paintings as part of the city’s larger bankruptcy crisis. I think … Continue Reading Recent Work
I was elated when it was announced the Corcoran wouldn’t be leaving its historic home on 17th Street NW. But still, what does it say about the institution that they even considered the idea? With the recent announcement that the Corcoran will seek some kind of partnership or alliance with … Continue Reading The Corcoran’s next step
An article by Kriston Capps in the City Paper sets up the next few months as critical for the fate of the Bloomberg Bubble, the proposed temporary inflatable event space for the Hirshhorn. I like the bubble, and explain why on the Post Style Blog.
Last May I spent two wonderful weeks in St. Petersburg, Russia, walking the streets and exploring the myriad museums, small and large, but especially the small. Near the hotel where I was staying, someone had affixed a large sculpture of a nose to the wall of an old building, to … Continue Reading Where House Museums Thrive
I used a column in Sunday’s paper to examine how the Corcoran’s curatorial history, its identity as an institution, and an all-too-frequent failure to capitalize on success has led it to its current financial woes. But there’s nothing there that can’t be fixed by passionate, enlightened, dedicated leadership. The Mapplethorpe … Continue Reading More on the Corcoran
Last week, I spent two and a half very pleasant days at the Aspen Ideas Festival, an annual meeting of intellectual leaders from around the planet, with a focus this year on China. I moderated two panels, one on telling stories through film, another on re-imagining public space. I wrote … Continue Reading At the Aspen Ideas Festival
We need to examine the parallels between what happened at the University of Virginia this past month, and what is happening at the Corcoran today. Is there perhaps an epidemic of short-sighted thinking running through the elite circles that control our academic and cultural organizations? Have two decades of … Continue Reading Let’s retrain our non-profit leadership…
While in Philadelphia to see the Barnes collection a few weeks ago, I popped over to the Penn Museum to take in a new exhibition devoted to the Maya. The exhibition is billed as an examination of the supposed Maya doomsday prediction, which is all the rage in the darker … Continue Reading Maya 2012
This story got lost in the Sunday mix (even I had a hard time finding it and I know how to search). But I reviewed the new building and installation of the Barnes Foundation collection in today’s Sunday Post. I think the new facility is beautifully done, even with the … Continue Reading The Barnes Foundation
I took a brief vacation earlier this month, a chance to drive from L.A. to Las Vegas, visiting my alma mater on the way. In Las Vegas, I spent an afternoon at the new Mob Museum. It’s better than I expected. But why are Americans so interested in museums devoted … Continue Reading More from the weekend