Fortune's Fool?

  Poor Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Not literally— the storied French painter and lithographer of the nineteenth century was born a dot on a line of formidable counts stretching back, uninterrupted, to Charlemagne. But a silver spoon hardly ever glanced his fleshy lips; his origins in ancestral chateaux were the opening of a condemned circle which…

Mad About Madge

  Madge Gill (1882-1961) remains readily mutable as an artist, her bizarre, absorbing work resting on the borderlands of Outsider Art, Self-Taught Art and Visionary Art. Without a speck of proper training or lofty hopes of distinction, she produced thousands of hastily scratched out, yet remarkably precise, ink drawings during her lifetime. Scribbling furiously across every papery…

Dressing Britannia

As the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland knows well, crowning a queen regnant is a rather big deal. Sixty-three years ago yesterday, all the pomp of the nation was gathered up for just such an occasion, the coronation of the Diamond Queen, Elizabeth II. On that second day of June in the…

Market Day

The Art Market. Three vague words swirling overhead a volatile, borderless tangle of cash-slinging consumers, competitive institutions, and personal interests. We know this murky force to be capable of commanding sums reaching into the hundreds of millions; to be able to speak glibly of its ups and downs is pre-requisite for circulation in certain social strata. But what…

Carl Grauer, Painter

I last wrote of a long departed painter to remember. Today I turn my attention to a painter, very alive and well, to get to know better. Carl Grauer, American portraitist at large, is proof that excellent art, art full of searching ideas and based in the bedrock of dexterous technique, can trace its roots…

Celebrating Georges Rouault

Today marks the 145th anniversary of the birth of the French painter and lithographer Georges Rouault. For the savvier among you, perhaps the name Georges Rouault is met with an instant flash of recognition. For others, there’s not much shame in admitting he sounds like another one of those French guys who did something significant once.…

A Confederacy of Dunces

“When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.” – Jonathan Swift Someone very dear to me gifted me a copy of a dense novel, its tender blue inked inscription reading, “A great American book that will make you laugh.” What I’ve come…

Tagliafierro's Moving Pictures

  You stand fixed in a climate-controlled museum corridor, left hip cocked and head slightly tilting to hold eye contact with a figure frozen in an oil portrait. It’s a quiet, somehow reassuring ritual which stirs up all sorts of sentiments; wonderment at pain-stakingly executed artistic techniques, nostalgia for times forever intangible to one’s self, assumed comprehension of…

The Rolling Stones Do Not Exist

It is 1965 and the world is still in black and white. The Rolling Stones have made the arduous trip north to mime ‘19 th Nervous Breakdown’ in a church in Manchester. Resplendent in the perfect mod button-down collar checked shirt, Mick Jagger sashays down a catwalk through a gathering of The Kids. He twitches…