Art and Film: Van Gogh’s sanity

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson /  “One man’s insanity is another man’s genius,” Joyce Carol Oates has written. In the popular imagination, though, Vincent Van Gogh was a psychologically tortured idiot-savant. Inner demons, not conscious deliberation, drove him to make his transcendent paintings, which invested natural phenomena with haunting emotional qualities and philosophical portent. Aesthetic discretion … read more… “Art and Film: Van Gogh’s sanity”

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Warhol at the Whitney: A provocateur for all seasons

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / There are certainly strong generational reasons for the Whitney to mount “Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again,” its penetrating current retrospective. It goes almost without saying that Warhol changed art history by melding the commercial and the “fine,” and, in his energized aesthetic embrace of the whole … read more… “Warhol at the Whitney: A provocateur for all seasons”

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The Great War and Modernism

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / The First World War – known as the Great War before it became necessary to number them – is one of history’s most celebrated lessons on two subjects in particular: how ominously easily it can be for a major war to arise, and the senseless cruelty and calamity of armed … read more… “The Great War and Modernism”

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Art and Film: Catherine Weldon and Sitting Bull

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Trump’s reactionary public policy, which has institutionalized contempt for the advances in social justice forged in the United States over the past 150 years, has produced pervasive discontent. Anger about his racism, misogyny, and homophobia is manifesting itself through art in different ways. In tone, resistance ranges from the simmering observations of Kerry … read more… “Art and Film: Catherine Weldon and Sitting Bull”

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Art and Film: Meta’s meta in Madeline’s Madeline

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Writer-director Josephine Decker’s remarkably ambitious avant-garde film Madeline’s Madeline drills towards the molten core of the creative process and its hazards by way of the impressive young actress Helena Howard’s portrayal of the even more impressive eponymous young actress. Given that description, it goes almost without saying that the proceedings … read more… “Art and Film: Meta’s meta in Madeline’s Madeline”

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Soberly upbeat: Summer shows at DC Moore

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Summer is irrevocably a time for diversion and good cheer, but how much escapism can be indulged in good conscience is relative to the times, and these are deeply troubled ones. DC Moore’s zingy group exhibition “ZIG ZAG ZIG,” on view through August 10, strikes a fine balance between the sunny seasonal … read more… “Soberly upbeat: Summer shows at DC Moore”

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Art and Film: John Callahan’s Higher Power

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Growing up in Portland, Oregon, John Callahan, who would become a cartoonist noted for his dark, warped humor, had been a promising art student. But his abandonment by his birth mother and the coldness of his adoptive family haunted him. He started drinking at 13, and by his early twenties, … read more… “Art and Film: John Callahan’s Higher Power”

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On July 4th: The art of decency

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Leave No Trace, Debra Granik’s first dramatic movie since her Winter’s Bone ushered in Jennifer Lawrence eight years ago, is among the best and most resonant films to appear this year. The movie, beautifully filmed mainly in Oregon, involves a disaffected and widowed Marine veteran aptly named Will, played by a brilliantly constrained Ben … read more… “On July 4th: The art of decency”

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Art and Film: The beautifully unlovely Nancy

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / The artistic process comes up quite a bit in cinema. This month alone, three new movies feature protagonists who are artists struggling against various worldly impediments to make their way. At the agreeable end of the spectrum, in Brett Haley’s comforting Hearts Beat Loud, there’s the irrepressibly winning Nick Offerman’s … read more… “Art and Film: The beautifully unlovely Nancy”

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A strong, dark six-pack at Edward Thorp

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Edward Thorp Gallery’s “Turn of Thought,” which unfortunately just closed, was an especially good group show worthy of even retrospective note. Styled as “contemporary narrative painting,” the exhibition featured work by six broadly representational painters, all eminently capable of summoning discomfiting storylines from seemingly naive images with great evocative efficiency … read more… “A strong, dark six-pack at Edward Thorp”

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