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A Likely Story

Frank Kermode

25 January 1996
Howard Hodgkin: Paintings 
by Michael Auping, John Elderfield and Susan Sontag, edited by Marla Price.
Thames and Hudson, 216 pp., £28, October 1995, 0 500 09256 7
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Howard Hodgkin 
by Andrew Graham-Dixon.
Thames and Hudson, 192 pp., £24.95, October 1994, 0 500 27769 9
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... poem is always talking more or less vainly to an interlocutor using sign language – at best offering an oblique and unsolicited tribute. There is evidence of this persistent dialogue of the deaf in John Hollander’s excellent book, The Gazer’s Spirit: Poems Speaking to Silent Works of Art, a learned study of the tradition of ekphrasis – poetic description of paintings – illustrated by a ...

Relentless Intimacy

T.J. Clark: Cezanne’s Portraits

25 January 2018
Cézanne Portraits 
National Portrait Gallery, London, until 11 February 2019Show More
Cézanne Portraits 
National Gallery of Art, Washington, 25 March 2018 to 1 July 2018Show More
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... a strictly peculiar order, incommensurable with all human expressions whatsoever.I think of Woman with a Cafetière as sister to the immured (but undefeated) heroines of Beckett’s late monologues. JohnElderfield, curator of the Portraits show, thinks the first statement of the ‘as if they were apples’ cliché may have been Charles Morice’s in 1905. Morice was the translator of Dostoevsky’s ...

The Big Show

Nicholas Penny

25 March 1993
Henri Matisse: A Retrospective 
by John Elderfield.
Thames and Hudson, 479 pp., £48, September 1992, 0 500 09231 1
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Henri Matisse 1904-1917 
by Yves-Alain Bois.
Centre Pompidou, 524 pp., frs 220, February 1993, 2 85850 722 8
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... the term conjured up a large canvas covered with big patches or bold patterns of colour probably painted in New York. American abstract art of the Fifties and Sixties owed much to Matisse. JohnElderfield claims in his long introductory essay in the New York catalogue that ‘Matisse was alone when he began to discover that the very coloured stuff of which paintings are made can have an independent ...
19 March 1998
Bonnard 
by Timothy Hyman.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £7.95, February 1998, 0 500 20310 5
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Bonnard 
by Sarah Whitfield and John Elderfield.
Tate Gallery, 272 pp., £35, June 1998, 1 85437 243 2
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... the development of his style, from its brilliant decorative beginnings to the formal strength and realism of its maturity’, without trying to find validation for that style in personal tragedy, as John Berger apparently did. For Berger, Hyman writes, ‘the late nudes were the sole redeeming component in an oeuvre otherwise “intimate, contemplative, privileged”; it was the “tragedy” of his ...
16 December 2004
... Art alone. ‘A transcendent aesthetic experience,’ the New York Times gushed. You might not recognise the museum after its redesign by the Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi. In the New Yorker John Updike likened its presence to ‘an invisible cathedral’, but it is closer to an abstract palace. The main access is now nearer Sixth than Fifth Avenue, and you enter from either 53rd or 54th ...

Exhibitionists

Hal Foster: Curation

3 June 2015
Ways of Curating 
by Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Penguin, 192 pp., £9.99, March 2015, 978 0 241 95096 8
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Curationism: How Curating Took Over the Art World – And Everything Else 
by David Balzer.
Pluto, 140 pp., £8.99, April 2015, 978 0 7453 3597 1
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... respected in both worlds – and some curators of 20th-century art are much admired in the academy (the Museum of Modern Art in New York has had a string of such figures, from William Rubin to JohnElderfield to Leah Dickerman). Today the more telling split is between modern and contemporary fields (the latter has no exact birthdate – 1970, 1980, 1989), but this is a schism less between the university ...

Diary

Tim Hilton: Art Talk

19 November 1992
... under way, but the material is not going to get published without institutional support. The Museum of Modern Art in New York has started to issue a series called Studies in Modern Art, edited by JohnElderfield (who was born in Middlesbrough and is another veteran of the Conceptualist/Modernist art school battles of circa 1970). The first of them, American Art of the 1960s, contains seven essays ...

Mayhem at Millbank

David Sylvester: The new hang at the Tate Britain (2000)

18 May 2000
... boundaries were very limited. This was ModernStarts: People, Places, Things, the recent controversial temporary hang by a small team led by one of the very best living historians of modern art, JohnElderfield, of works of 1880 to 1920 in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. I cannot say much about its most hotly debated section, ‘People’, because my only sight of it was an hour’s ...

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