Francisco de Zurbarán’s Veil of Veronica at the MFAH

August 18, 2019


The wall label next to Francisco de Zurbarán’s (1598-1664) Veil of Veronica, c. 1630s, in the Sarah Campbell Blaffer galleries of The Museum of Fine Arts Houston reminds viewers of the image’s iconography: “According to an early medieval legend, a pious woman named Veronica wiped the sweat from Christ’s face on the way to Calvary, […]

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A Road Trip and The American Landscape

December 9, 2017


  As I drew my own line through space, I noticed the road. 3,500 miles of painted highway lines disappeared into my dashboard, and I thought of Robert Penn Warren’s hypnotic opening image in All the King’s Men: “You look up the highway and it is straight for miles, coming at you, with the black […]

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Sketch: Bruegel’s The Harvesters

September 22, 2016


The Harvesters: peasants and landscape. Of all Bruegel’s seasonal paintings, this one combines these two to greatest effect. This landscape is impossible without these people, Bruegel seems to say, just as the people are impossible without this place. Each gives the other function and meaning.     In pictorial terms, The Harvesters presents a great […]

Posted in: Sketches

Exhibition Review: Watteau’s Soldiers at the Frick Collection

July 28, 2016


“Watteau’s Soldiers: Scenes of Military Life in Eighteenth-Century France,” now on view at the Frick Collection, presents twenty or so works created around the War of the Spanish Succession, an early subject for an artist far better known for his fêtes galantes, those rich scenes of courtship and masquerade that catalogue an entire Baroque iconography. […]

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Paintings in Place: Lake Pocotopaug

December 6, 2015


If you draw an “X” through a map of Connecticut, your two lines will meet at a point just west of Lake Pocotopaug, which sits in a depression among the hills of East Hampton. Known locally as Belltown USA, for a history of bell manufacturing that extends back to the early 19th century, the town […]

Posted in: Paintings in Place

Exhibition Review: Audubon to Warhol: The Art of American Still Life

November 14, 2015


    “O Nature, and O soul of man! how far beyond all utterance are your linked analogies! not the smallest atom stirs or lives on matter, but has its cunning duplicate in mind.” –Ahab Herman Melville, Moby Dick   Roman, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and French. These cultures all developed uniquely mannered still-life traditions that […]

Posted in: Exhibition Reviews

The Monuments of First Avenue

February 1, 2015


On a recent morning commute, I noticed a bouquet of roses laid at the foot of a monument that I had often caught glimpses of, but never paid much attention to. Comprising five dark stone pillars, a blue orb balanced on one and a bronze suitcase at the foot of another, all sitting atop a […]

Posted in: Essays