Tag Archives: Articles

Can Art Museums Help Illuminate Early American Connections To Slavery?

John Singleton Copley, “Lucretia Chandler” (1763), oil on canvas, Copley was one of the Boston area’s most prominent painters and painted this portrait of the daughter of a wealthy New England judge named Lucretia. The new signage at the Worcester Art Museum now notes that Chandler’s father, Judge John Chandler II (1683-1762), owned two slaves that he left to family members upon his death (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

WORCESTER, Mass. — On previous visits to the Worcester Art Museum, I had paused to consider the reserved posture and elegant dress of Lucretia Chandler Murray; however, I had not ever considered where her wealth and privilege came from — until now. While the older museum label for the portrait had underscored the characteristic style … Read the rest

An Urban Oasis Hides Ancient Mysteries in Bustling Downtown Miami

The well containing the spring (all images by the author for Hyperallergic)

Hidden between the high-rises, the traffic jams, the signs promoting Miami’s Brickell neighborhood as though it’s a lifestyle — between all this energy-draining commotion — there’s an almost-secret, nourishing, and quiet space. The “Well of Ancient Mysteries” is a small spring in a bed of limestone. You have to kneel on the craggy, coral-encrusted rock to reach it. Scoop the water into your palms and it hits your tongue with a bright, bursting alacrity: cold, mineral-y, fresh. It tastes clean.

The well is in the backyard of Ishmael Bermudez’s childhood home, a structure built in 1920 and covered in paintings and murals by his late partner, Burke Keogh, who passed away last year. Bermudez, … Read the rest

Can Art Lending Libraries Empower a New Generation of Collectors?

Borrowers with artwork at the Minneapolis Art Lending Library (photo by James P. Lehmann)

For centuries, those who lacked the space or resources to collect artworks really only had one option — experiencing whatever fine art they could find in public spaces like museums. But in many cities, it’s now possible to borrow art for free. All you need is a local “art lending library” — an innovation in art sharing that could, just maybe, help democratize an activity that was once considered inaccessible.

Art lending libraries function like traditional book libraries: individuals can borrow an artwork, enjoy it in their own home, and return it by a due date with little to no fee. They have a decades-long history on university campuses, but they seem … Read the rest

Stream Frederick Wiseman’s Documentaries for Free Via Libraries and Colleges Around the US

Frederick Wiseman, Titicut Follies (1967) (all screenshots by the author for Hyperallergic)

There’s a tremendous paradox about Frederick Wiseman: he’s one of the most acclaimed living filmmakers, and has directed a new movie for nearly every year of the past five decades, and yet his work has remained inaccessible to the vast majority of potential viewers. This is especially idiosyncratic given that Wiseman is a documentarian, and the digital age has generally made documentaries widely available. But Wiseman has made and released all of his works through his own company, Zipporah Films, and never put them out for traditional commercial distribution. Most of his films could be directly purchased from Zipporah on DVD 10 years ago — just in time for DVD to be … Read the rest

How Mondrian Inspired Architecture Around the World

Mondrian building in Austin, Texas, 2007 (photo by Kent Wang, via Flickr)

More than 100 years after Piet Mondrian co-founded the De Stijl movement, the artist continues to be as popular as ever. As Nancy J. Troy argues in her 2014 book, The Afterlife of Piet Mondrian, collectors, curators, scholars, dealers, and the artist’s heirs helped to construct Mondrian’s legacy well after his death, oftentimes leading to the commodification of his works. In the long line of the Mondrian- and De Stijl-themed, there’s the iconic 1965 Yves Saint Laurent dress (and the many imitations to come after), as well as numerous handbags, sneakers, socks, cakes, furniture, manicures, album covers, and everything in between.

Mondrian Cake (
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Six Famous Paintings that Were Given New Names

Modigliani (left), Picasso, and André Salmon (who renamed “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”) in front the Café de la Rotonde, Paris, 1916 (photo by Jean Cocteau via Wikimedia Commons)

Would a Picasso by any other name smell as sweet? That seems to have been the question for a short time earlier this month, when British businessman and all-around rich guy Richard Caring allegedly planned to hang a plaque that read “Annabel” under Picasso’s 1937 “The Girl With A Red Beret And Pompom.” According to Robbie Griffiths at the Daily Mail, Caring bought the painting for £20 or £30 million last year, hung it in Annabel’shis London nightclub, and decided to rename it after the club.

This particular painting — just one of many depicting … Read the rest

The Peculiar History of Love in Valentine Ephemera from the 18th Century to Today

Cobweb valentine card, unfolded to reveal a mouse in a trap (ca.1830-1860) (all images courtesy The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens)

Flowers wilt and chocolate boxes inevitably empty, but a written note that expresses love can last centuries, if not longer. For over four decades, the collector Nancy Rosin amassed an enormous trove of paper valentines created between 1684 and 1970. Now, just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens has announced that it has acquired her unique collection.

Pinpricked and hand-painted devotional card (ca.1750)

Donated by Rosin’s family, The Nancy and Henry Rosin Collection of Valentine, Friendship, and Devotional Ephemera is considered the “best private collection of its kind in the world,” according to the Huntington. It … Read the rest

Museum Celebrates Hunk of Fat that Nearly Flooded London with Feces

A small dried sample of the infamous Whitechapel fatberg

LONDON — The Museum of London recently added an eyebrow-raising temporary exhibition to its collection: Fatberg!, which displays a chunk of the eponymous sewer clog that blocked the pipes of London’s Whitechapel neighborhood last fall. The massive lump of decaying sewage sits alongside ancient Roman mosaics and priceless medieval altarpieces.

As part of the museum’s City Now City Future season, staff members have wasted little time since the fatberg’s excavation, showcasing slices from the 130-ton, 250-meter-long fatty heap inside display cases. The exhibit includes accoutrements from the sanitation workers who removed the fatberg: a sterilization suite, pick axe, and shovel. Fatberg! also includes a short educational video outside the display, which explains the danger of fatbergs … Read the rest

Stitching Together an Artist’s Meditations on Genocide and Trauma

Linda Friedman Schmidt for Under Her Skin (image by Kelsey Bennett and courtesy of The FRONT)

The faces in Linda Friedman Schmidt’s fabric portraits are lifelike and emotive — dancing, crying, or smiling with abandon. Expression is its own kind of freedom; growing up, Schmidt wasn’t often afforded the privilege to emote freely. Born to two Holocaust survivors in a displaced persons camp after World War II, Schmidt witnessed the fear and emotional suppression specific to trauma survivors. Now, she uses her work to explore the intergenerational nature of trauma, the discomfort of being in your skin, and the fear induced by one’s own identity — and the things that heal it, like movement, honest sadness, and shameless joy.

Schmidt is the subject of the fifth … Read the rest