Author Archive for John Anderson

How to View Ellsworth Kelly at the Phillips Collection

Painter Ellsworth Kelly recently turned 90, and to celebrate, the Phillips Collection has mounted an exhibit of six paintings he made between 2004 and 2009. Taken at face value, the pieces don't seem especially challenging; monochromes never seem to ask for more than an appreciation of color, size, and sometimes shape. But, if viewers are [...]

Yes, Washington Art Matters, But Let’s Make a Better Case For It

"Any show so varied, it is bound to leave a blur," wrote Washington Post critic Paul Richard about "The Washington Show," an exhibit the Corcoran mounted in 1985. The show aspired to establish the importance of Washington artists at the time. "Washington Art Matters," an ongoing exhibition at the American University Museum at the Katzen [...]

Vitamin A: James Turrell, “St. Elmo’s Light”

Occasional considerations of a piece of art on view in town (or in this case, the Eastern shore)
Entering the room that contains James Turrell's "St. Elmo's Light" feels much like entering his installation, Milk Run, at the Hirshhorn. As you step into the darkened hallway, you may feel reluctant to continue, perhaps for fear of tripping or [...]

Vitamin A: Michelangelo’s David-Apollo

Occasional considerations of a piece of art on view in town.
Ahh… Michelangelo. After living in Rome and spending days seated in San Pietro in Vincoli drawing Michelangelo's Moses, it is invigorating to be able to freely walk into a place and see another Michelangelo marble. (Then again, that's the joy of the National Gallery and [...]

How the American Art Museum Acquired and Rehabilitated Nam June Paik’s Work

In 2002, when the Smithsonian American Art Museum acquired Nam June Paik’s "Electronic Superhighway,” a neon-outlined wall of televisions that forms a map of the United States, it didn't arrive in a truck or a van. Instead, it arrived in a box, in pieces: some electronics, videos, broken neon, and most surprisingly, no televisions.
Turns out, [...]

Exploring Lincoln Schatz’s “The Network,” Now at the National Portrait Gallery

In this town, getting a bunch of politicians and Washington insiders to agree on anything presents a challenge—even when it comes to art. Getting them to be in the art, well, that doesn't seem as difficult.
Tuesday, the National Portrait Gallery unveiled a new addition to its permanent collection, The Network, a recent work by video [...]

Jeff Speck’s Walkable City, Digested

An elderly woman is walking down a several-mile stretch of treeless road. Cars whiz by, going 60 mph in a 45 mph zone. It’s broiling out. If a car hits and kills her, the cause of death would be ruled vehicular trauma. If she died of heat stroke, the cause of [...]

Reviewed: Chuck Close, “New Work” at Adamson Gallery

There's not much new to discuss when it comes to Chuck Close's subjects. Mark continues to be Mark. Lucas continues to be Lucas. After 40 years, the portraits of Close's friends and family are no longer strangers to us. We're all old friends, and we know them by their first names.
Never mind most of them [...]

Vitamin A: Cliff Evans, “Drones in the Garden”

In which our art critics highlight their favorite works on view.
There are the familiar elements of a Cliff Evans video collage: the camera zooms forever inward, objects move across the screen, borrowed imagery combines with constructed elements. His looping three-minute video, "Drones in the Garden," on view at Curator's Office to Dec. 20, demonstrates a [...]

Vitamin A: Douglass Huebler’s “Location Piece No. 6 – National”

In which our art critics highlight their favorite works on view
A guy putting on the green. Firefighters battling a blaze. A woman walking a duck. Young women seated around a nun strumming a guitar. All are subjects of a work by Douglas Huebler titled "Location Piece #6 – National," which is included as a part [...]

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