Barry Schwabsky

Barry Schwabsky’s latest book is Heretics of Language, a collection of essays.

A Most Consistent Man: Renoir

Barry Schwabsky, 13 September 2018

The retort​ was cutting. Albert C. Barnes, the Philadelphia art collector who by the time of his death in 1951 owned 181 paintings by Auguste Renoir, was trying to one-up Duncan Phillips, who had recently spent the then considerable sum of $125,000 on Luncheon of the Boating Party – widely considered one of Renoir’s greatest works (and still the highlight of the Phillips...

I live in my world: Willem de Kooning

Barry Schwabsky, 22 September 2016

Could​ anything be more unexpected, in the world of art criticism, than the appearance of a book by Rosalind Krauss on Willem de Kooning? Krauss is a wide-ranging critic and historian of modernism, the author of an influential book on Picasso, but she has been associated above all with minimalist and post-minimalist sculptors of her own generation or slightly older – figures such as...

At Bozar: Luc Tuymans

Barry Schwabsky, 14 April 2011

Luc Tuymans’s painting Altar (2002) depicts a wedding chapel in a Mormon temple. It’s a space that only church members are allowed to enter, so – as Ralph Rugoff recounts in the catalogue to the retrospective of the Belgian painter’s work at Bozar, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels (until 8 May) – Tuymans based the painting on a photograph taken by a...

At the Grand Palais: Christian Boltanski

Barry Schwabsky, 11 February 2010

Frank Stella once complained about what he saw as a kind of timidity in Italian painting before Leonardo, something ‘in the acceptance of commissioned configurations, in the attitude towards covering a given surface that held painting back … Artists before Leonardo accepted the given surface and made the best of it.’ Today, it seems to me, artists who make installations...

At Tate Britain: Bridget Riley

Barry Schwabsky, 10 July 2003

One of the subtlest and most entrancing of Bridget Riley’s early paintings, Static 2 (1966), consists of a field of black spots arranged in a pure grid, 25 by 25, across a white square. Static, as the title says, and yet the painting isn’t inert: a lovely sense of inner movement is conveyed by the way the spots, which are not pure circles but mildly oval, are systematically...

Makeshiftness: Who is Menzel?

Barry Schwabsky, 17 April 2003

Michael Fried, who is also a poet, has a dense, self-questioning, fervent prose style. Somewhat perversely he has, over the last three decades – that is, since his doctoral dissertation on Manet was printed as a special issue of Artforum in 1969 – put this prose to the service of art-historical scholarship. It might have been otherwise. While still in his twenties Fried had become...

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