Posted inArts & Culture

Claes Oldenburg’s Chicago

At the corner of Madison and Jefferson in Chicago stands a 100-foot-high baseball bat, constructed in a lattice pattern from 20 tons of steel. It is the largest sculpture created by the artist Claes Oldenburg, a man from whose mind sprang any number of super-sized objects: a 45-foot tall clothespin in Philadelphia, a 29-foot-long spoon […]

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No grand statements here

Vincent van Gogh is to art museums what the Beatles or Jimi Hendrix are to the recording industry—times are tough or run out of ideas? Trot out tried-and-true cash cows and sit counting the receipts. To buttress their case, the Art Institute has filled out their slate of summer blockbusters with another dead-too-soon ringer, Georges […]

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Who’s afraid of stanley brouwn?

I don’t understand. stanley brouwn steps? Oh, another place!He walks. . . . He appears in places and walks maybe, and he’s video-ing while he walks?stanley brouwn steps! [Laughs, whispers.] What? [Laughs.]Where’s he going to appear? [Laughs.]London!  So flowed a conversation between two seven-year-olds who sat next to me on a bench nestled in the Art Institute’s […]

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An ode to Black women

At first glance, Gio Swaby’s artwork can be deceptively simple. Her portraits are marked by thin, black lines that sketch the images of beautiful, confident Black women. But looking closer, you are drawn into a complex composition of stitched, knotted, and dangling threads and colorful appliqued fabric on a raw canvas background.  Simplicity and complexity […]

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Black culture as a force for change

“Things Well Worth Waiting For” is a small-scale, deeply comprehensive exhibition that transports you to a different time where women wore flamboyant dresses, men drove classic cars, segregation prevailed, and the power of soul music was palpable. Photojournalist and activist Kwame Brathwaite was there, documenting it all—in words and in photographs.  Occupying two galleries at […]

Posted inOn Culture

Hello, Dalí

I was a reporter at the St. Petersburg Times in 1980, when St. Pete got the idea of turning itself into Salvador Dalíwood. Not everyone was on board: on the one hand, there were grumbles about Dalí’s apparent tolerance for fascism (including a cozy long-term relationship with Franco), and on the other, sneering art-world objections […]

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Reckoning with life

I rarely read wall labels in art exhibitions as I find the verbiage gets in the way of my experience. My goal is to have a one-on-one reckoning with what I’m looking at without someone else’s words confusing or directing my reaction. The curators of this survey of some 250 sculptures, masks, and ornaments from […]

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What Cézanne saw

“Cézanne, he’s the greatest of us all.”—Claude Monet to Georges Clemenceau in conversation, cited in translation in The Paintings of Paul Cézanne: A Catalogue Raisonné (trans. John Rewald, Abrams, 1996). There are some entities and influences on our work that we take for granted, as though they were always there and it’s impossible to conceive […]

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Thinking of us

Barbara Kruger, collagist, conceptual artist, and Futura Bold Oblique font savant, will turn 77 two days after her exhibition “THINKING OF YOU. I MEAN ME. I MEAN YOU.” closes at the Art Institute of Chicago on January 24. The expansive exhibition, which opened in September after being delayed almost a year by COVID-19 concerns, is […]