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Archive for February 6th, 2009

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Felix Nussbaum, Le Réfugié (The Refugee), 1939

“Is there a Jewish art?” Harold Rosenberg asked at New York’s Jewish Museum in 1966. “They build a Jewish Museum, then ask: ‘Is there a Jewish art?’ Jews!”

(via Financial Times)

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“[Walker] Evans is foremost a giant of 20th-century photography, the instigator of a lean, elegant documentary style that was as unvarnished as it was ennobling. He immortalized gaunt sharecroppers, dilapidated plantations and bone-dry country stores in the South; worker housing and grimy factories in the industrial North; and (with a hidden camera) the unguarded expressions of New York subway riders.

“But before he was anything else, Evans was an obsessed collector of postcards. This exhibition reveals them as the through line, the wellspring of his art.”

At the end of her review of the just-opened exhibition, “Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard,” (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), Roberta Smith notes the broader cultural significance of early 20th-century picture postcards and laments the slashing of financial support for public school art programs:

“Without diminishing his achievement, this show reverberates beyond Evans. The postcards celebrate America at the beginning of the last century. They also confirm the vigor of this country’s often anonymous grass-roots art forms and the importance of popular culture to so-called high art. More sadly, in a time when schools across the country are slashing their art programs, this unusual exhibition suggests the often decisive effect of our earliest aesthetic experiences. ‘Home is where we start from,’ wrote the psychologist D. W. Winnicott. The richer the formative experiences there, the better for everyone.”

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Gypsy mother braiding her daughter’s hair at Vienna’s popular Naschmarkt, May, 2007

(Full photo)

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