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William Kentridge

New York Review of Books

21 December 2023

History, Kentridge wants us to understand, is like his sculptures, or his films, or his drawings on concatenated book pages. There may be an instant where it all comes together and makes sense, but it’s we, not the data, who make the sense—“make” as in “manufacture,” as in “making it up.” Our brains are hardwired to find meaningful connections among any sensory inputs. We can’t help it. (This is a game at which art critics, like gamblers, habitually overestimate their skills.)

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Kerry James Marshall: The Complete Prints

Ludion / DAP

November 2023

Kerry James Marshall is one of the world’s most celebrated painters, hailed for having redefined Blackness as a visual device and cultural subject, as well as for opening new vistas on what pictorial art can be and do. He has also been, from the beginning, a peintre-graveur—a painter who uses printmaking as a way of thinking, of aligning image and surface, of being in the world. For all their importance to the artist, however, Marshall’s prints—which range from the pocket-sized woodcuts to sixty-foot long installations of UV-cured ink on plexiglass—prints have never been discussed as a coherent body of work, and many have never been documented. This catalogue raisonné fills that void.

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Vermeer

The Atlantic

May 2023

Of all the great painters of the golden age when the small, soggy Netherlands arose as an improbable global power, Johannes Vermeer is the most beloved and the most disarming. Rembrandt gives us grandeur and human frailty, Frans Hals gives us brio, Pieter de Hooch gives us busy burghers, but Vermeer issues an invitation. The trompe l’oeil curtain is pulled back, and if the people on the other side don’t turn to greet us, it’s only because we are always expected.

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Sybil & Cyril: Dynamism, Domesticated

New York Review of Books

March 10, 2022

Between-the-wars has become a popular trope of film and television—cloche hats and people huddled before enormous radios—but Uglow gives us something else: thinking people navigating a world that was not just different from our own but also different from the one that nostalgia had imposed on them. Sybil and Cyril may have been adventurous and “modern,” but they spent as much time looking backward as looking

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Everything Will Be Alright: Kerry James Marshall

New York Review of Books

23 November 2023

For Kerry James Marshall, art has always been “a set of problems that needed to be solved, the first of which was…the problem of Black representation.” It’s a bit like saying that the first problem to be solved is landing on the moon—a wildly ambitious but not insane goal as long as you are willing and able to tackle the myriad theoretical and technical problems that stand between you and success.

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Interview with Prudence Crowther

New York Review

April 29, 2023

... It’s easy to poke fun at “woke” excesses, but the larger problem is that any kind of discovery has been preempted. It’s comforting but deeply boring (and ultimately dangerous) if all you are asking from art is an affirmation of something you already believe. The universe is a probabilistic place, at least from the vantage point of an individual living in it, and coming to terms with unanticipated outcomes is important.

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Kerry James Marshall's Exquisite Corpses

New York Review of Books

December 12, 2022

For four decades Marshall has been helping himself to the bounty of art history, extrapolating distinctive strengths of early Renaissance or French rococo and setting them to work in entirely novel ways to depict Black subjects and Black experience. In a spellbinding exhibition now at Jack Shainman Gallery, it’s Surrealism’s turn. Hilarious and sinister, easy to approach and impossible to resolve, the paintings and drawings in “Exquisite Corpse: This is Not the Game” follow the segmented protocol to which the Surrealists laid claim under the name le cadavre exquise.

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Feinting Spells: Cubism and Trompe l'Oeil

New York Review

January 19, 2023

Part of the delight of trompe l’oeil is the way it relocates, at least for a moment, the edge between art and life. The most dramatic example here is an actual marble tabletop on which Boilly painted a spill of pocket contents—business card, letter, miniature portrait, coins. Collage can do something comparable, as in Picasso’s inclusion of a real calling card whose folded corner has been removed and replaced with a drawn imitation. For both artists, real-world utility

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Ed Ruscha at MoMA

New York Review of Books

23 November 2023

No artist has explored the thinginess of words more adroitly or deeply than Ruscha has at every step of his career. In the mid-Sixties he took up a kind of journeyman trompe l’oeil style (not smooth enough to fool the eye, but good enough that you get the idea) to picture typographic letters under pressure (the letters of “RADIO” squeezed with a C-clamp), and then liquids that coalesce into legibility: a puddle of baked beans that can be read as “Adios,” or the word “City” spelled out in clear droplets, its near-perfect circle of a C hinting at an absent highball.

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Piranesi Provacateur

New York Review

May 11, 2023

Look around, and somehow poor Piranesi is still everywhere. His prints pop up like background chatter in photographs, fictions, and Logan Roy’s living room in Succession’s fourth season. Jorge Luis Borges and Le Corbusier were aesthetic and philosophical adversaries, but both decorated their rooms with Vedute...Louis Kahn, champion of modernist monumentality, had Piranesi’s quixotic plan of the Campo Marzio in his Philadelphia office; Peter Eisenman, architecture’s field marshal of fragmentation, has the same print in his bedroom.

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Winslow Homer

The Atlantic

May 2022

The Homer of The Gulf Stream is both more worldly and more elusive than the Homer of little red schoolhouses and sou’westers. And what the 90 or so paintings and watercolors assembled in “Crosscurrents” make clear is that the most salient quality of his art was never straightforwardness; it is his knack for using visual precision to demonstrate the limits of vision. We can see what is happening but not what will happen. He is the master of the ambiguous outcome, which also makes him the master of the unclear moral: Believe in the ship, and The Gulf Stream is a lesson in forbearance; believe in the waterspout, and it is a lesson in futility.

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Seeing Things: Anna Mary Howitt in Art History

in Picturing the Invisible: Exploring interdisciplinary synergies from the arts and the sciences. Edited by Paul Coldwell and Ruth M. Morgan

2022

In the freshly written saga of Victorian women artists, Howitt was cast as the system’s ‘tragic victim’. This story is seductive. It pits a likeable, relatable heroine against a misogynistic villain, and dovetails neatly with current understandings of gender politics. It is, however, full of holes. The most yawning lacuna concerns the art itself: none of Anna Mary Howitt’s paintings is currently locatable.

other recent publications

Jim Dine: I Print: Catalogue Raisonné of Prints, 2001–2020

with Tobias Burg, editor

Göttingen: Steidl 2021

Bits and Pieces: 400 Years of Collage

Print Quarterly, March 2021

What the Little Woman Was Up To:

Five Hundred Years of Women’s Work: The Lisa Unger Baskin Collection

New York Review of Books, 26 March 2020

The Self-portrait from Schiele to Beckman at the Neue Galerie

New York Review of Books, 18 July 2019  

Poons v Koons: the Art of ‘The Price of Everything'

New York Review Daily, February 2019 

Mirror Mirror: The Prints of Alison Saar

Susan Tallman, Nancy Doll and Alison Saar

Portland: Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation 2019

The Edge of Visibility 

Art in Print, Sep-Oct 2018

Richter and Polke

Art in Print, Jul-Aug 2018

The American Dream: Pop to the Present

Stephen Coppell, Catherine Daunt, Susan Tallman

London: the British Museum 2017

 

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