It is now forty years since Melina Mercouri, the Greek Minister for Culture from 1981 to 1989, famous also as a film star and singer, addressed UNESCO’s World Conference on Cultural Policies to draw international attention to the campaign with which she would be identified until her death in 1994, the repatriation to Athens of the Parthenon sculptures in the British Museum. ‘We are not asking for the return of a painting or a statue’, she said: ‘We are asking for the return of a portion of a unique monument, the privileged symbol of a whole culture’.
The Painters of Pompeii
As images, ancient Roman wall paintings command attention for their bold compositions, vibrant and saturated colours, convincing naturalism and the fantastical mythologies they depict. As objects they also captivate for the dramatic circumstances surrounding their near- destruction, the miracle (or rarity) of their survival and the alchemical nature of lime plaster and pigment.
Plus: the remarkable career of Marianne Werefkin; the making of John Singer Sargent’s notorious Madame X; the occult modernism of Rudolf Steiner; and reviews of the artists who saw in stereo, a history of tomb raiding in Egypt and the memoir of Ibrahim El-Salahi
‘Je vois red’ raged Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) on one of the loose sheets of paper that she made notes on, most often about herself and her work and, in this case, about the painting Natural history #2 (1944; Easton Foundation, New York), which struck her as all going wrong. Slipping between two languages, Bourgeois’s fury conforms to the themes of rage, the death drive and childhood aggression that the art historian Mignon Nixon has traced in the artist’s work in reference to the ideas of the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein.
‘Art In America’ May 2022 – Each May, Art in America brings our readers a sampling of “new talent,” with a special focus on artists whose practice makes them stand out in a sea of competitors vying for attention. “Practice” is very much the operative word here: at a time when many artists are becoming known more for their social-media presence than for their creative endeavors, and when careers are bolstered more by the market than by critical attention, the editors, critics, and curators who contributed to our selection this year remained centered on what matters. As you’ll discover in these pages, the artists showcased are all contributing in some resonant way to the ongoing dialogue around art, aesthetics, and the culture at large, from Alexander Si, who turns an anthropological lens on the culture of whiteness; to Suneil Sanzgiri, whose films engage with anticolonialism; to Laurie Kang, who treats photography as a form of installation art (and who has contributed a compelling print to this issue); to the other notable talents featured. With this issue, we continue a tradition developed over more than a century of this magazine: writing art history as it is being made.
Plus: The women artists gazing at men, the portraits of Glyn Philpot, and Elizabeth David’s taste in Old Masters; and reviews of Donatello in Florence, Boilly in Paris, Kafka’s drawings and Stephen Shore’s memoir.
FEATURES | Imogen Tedbury on Botticelli’s bling; Kirsten Tambling on Fabergé’s fabulous baubles; Susan Moore visits the dealer and decorator Robert Kime in London; Jo Lawson-Tancred asks whether machines can do art history.
REVIEWS | Susan Owens on Constable’s late works in London; Kelly Presutti on 18th-century British glassware in Corning; Donal Cooper on Italian Renaissance altarpieces; Christopher Turner on Frank Lloyd Wright; Thomas Marks on Tiepolo’s gnocchi-munching Punchinellos.