Monday, March 28, 2011
For want of a nail…
Sometimes it’s interesting to try to isolate the factors—major and minor—that create trends in art. A current exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York is titled “German Expressionism: The Graphic Influence.” In the exhibition catalog, the show’s organizer reflects on the reasons why so many German Modernist artists focused on printmaking in the years from 1908 to 1923. This medium (woodcut in particular) had deep roots in the country’s cultural past. Another reason to favor printmaking over painting was the crucial shortage of canvas and linen created by the Allied blockade during World War I. In addition, in the years after that war, the German economy was so unstable that art was a reasonably secure investment. Prints, in particular, were modestly priced and readily available.
Surprisingly, almost all the 250 works in the exhibition are drawn from MoMA’s own collections. So deep are the Museum’s pockets in this area that it holds some 3,200 German Expressionist works on paper, most of which will never be exhibited. However, thanks to the internet, interested art lovers can see the entire collection on line. A recent visitor to the exhibition at MoMA described the works as “moving and disturbing,” both in terms of subject matter and medium. Take a look at the online collection and see if you agree.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Picasso—never still, always changing
Just when you might think there’s nothing new to learn about Picasso—or, at least, no innovative way to think about this giant of twentieth century art—along comes an exhibition that can make you think again. At the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts until May, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris offers the opportunity to get to know him all over again. He was fluid, improvisational, and way ahead of his time, and he kept up an amazing pace over eight decades of making art. Once again, a museum website provides the next best thing to being there. Catch it while it lasts!
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