The Evolution of Art: Artworks That Advanced Our Understanding of the Medium, Part I

Today, art can be almost anything. But there was a time in the not-so-distant past when abstraction was inconceivable, and it was believed that art could only represent something that already existed in the real world. There was a time when an object couldn’t be considered art unless it showed evidence of the artist’s touch. And until […]

An Eye-Popping Mid-Century Apartment Filled With Pollocks, Klines, and de Koonings

If you had Ben Heller’s eye, you’d have picked 50 straight Derby winners, or signed 100 future Hall of Fame ballplayers when they were 17. “When I think of my old apartment on the Upper West Side,” says the tall, spry Heller, who is 91, “even I’m shocked.” In the mid-1950s, the talent he was […]

What It’s Like to Live With Art That Doesn’t Love You Back

At a time when art is as commodified as oil, a few collectors have chosen to buy works that are messy, perishable and threaten to take over their lives. PAUL LEONG, A YOUNG banker who lives in downtown Manhattan, spends an unusual amount of time thinking about square watermelons. He wonders where to get them, […]

Who Are the Most Influential Artists of the Last Century? 26 Industry Leaders Weigh In

Which artist defined the last 100 years—and continues to reverberate in the work of artists today? In 2017, a century since Marcel Duchamp turned a readymade urinal into an artwork, we’ve wondered how to characterize the past 100 years in art, posing challenging questions to some of the industry’s brightest figures: What are this century’s most iconic works […]

The Ultimate Outline of the 20th Century Art

There is no doubt that the 20th century art was all about changing perspective. The artist’s way of seeing and therefore understanding things has been changing and continues to do so even in this day and age. The new, experimental approach to perspective was pursued both directly and implicitly. Painters and sculptors had abandoned linear […]

Famous Abstract Artists that Changed the Way We Think About Painting

Abstract artists fast brought different genres and sub genres of abstraction into the dominant painting style of the 20th century. This influential avant-garde direction in painting derived from the request for “pure art”, non-figurative, non-objective and nonrepresentational artwork. The earliest movements toward contemporary abstraction were seen in Romanticism, Impressionism and Expressionism, where artists put a […]

An Ambitious Survey of the Titans of Abstract Expressionism

BAC:  We saw this exhibition during Frieze week in London, and it is one of the best exhibitions we have ever seen – bar none. This expansive AbEx show is brash, irreverent, and unconstrained, just like the period it aims to express. The titans of Abstract Expressionism are on view now at The Royal Academy of […]

Talk – Collecting Contemporary Art, Audain Art Museum, Whistler, Canada

Laing Brown is an art collector who is interested in ideas. Brown, chair of the Audain Art Museum acquisitions committee and an external advisor to the acquisitions committee of the National Gallery of Canada, has just returned from Britain, where he went to check out Frieze London, where 160 of the world’s top commercial galleries […]

Abstract Expressionism review – crammed in a room with the big men of US art

There are beautiful, marvellous and terrifying things in the Royal Academy’s much-trumpeted survey of Abstract Expressionism. What more could one ask in a show including the explosive and tender Jackson Pollock; De Kooning swerving and jumbling and dismembering his frightening figures of women; Rothko’s tangy brightness and trembling, tremulous darkness;Barnett Newman’s zips and planes and […]

Public Talk: Collecting Contemporary Art

“Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.” – Sir Winston Churchill Join Laing Brown, a noted art collector, Board Member and Chair of the Audain Art Museum Acquisitions Committee, for a public multi-media presentation where he will discuss his Top 10 Collecting Rules for contemporary […]

How Abstract Expressionism changed modern art

What did the artists associated with Abstract Expressionism do so differently? And how is their work still relevant today? As the first survey of Abstract Expressionism for nearly 60 years is staged in Britain, co-curator David Anfam answers key questions. 1. How was Abstract Expressionism different to what came before? Crucially Abstract Expressionism, or ‘Ab […]

More than Melting Clocks: 10 Surrealist Masterpieces You Need to Know

Among radical 20th century art movements (of which there are more than a few), Surrealism is one of the few that’s been able to establish a hold on the popular as well as avant-garde imaginary, in no small part due to the outlandish public persona of its self-proclaimed ringleader Salvador Dalí. What’s sometimes forgotten, however, […]

What Was Abstract Expressionism? A Paint-Splattered Primer on America’s First Major Art Movement

You don’t need to be an art insider to hear the term “Abstract Expressionists” used to describe the inspiration behind all manner of contemporary painting, but what was the original movement all about? Hint: it’s more than just Jackson Pollock drinking and tossing paint on a canvas. In this brief essay from Phaidon’s Art in Time: […]

The Met and the Now

America’s preëminent museum finally embraces contemporary art. Gertrude Stein’s famous remark that “you can be a museum or you can be modern, but you can’t be both” sounds archaic today. Every self-respecting urban center has its museum of modern art, and climate-change-denying business leaders will spend lavishly to get their name on its walls. The […]

Review: Drips, Dropped: Pollock and His Impact

Any exhibition of older art drawn from a museum’s permanent collection is a palm held out for us to read, a snapshot of the museum’s sense of its role over time, its present ambitions and its view of art history. Place two such exhibitions side by side and an especially intense and revealing frisson can […]

Agnes Martin: the artist mystic who disappeared into the desert

In the summer of 1967, Martin left New York and went off-grid before reappearing in New Mexico. The art she made there – with its buoyant bands of colour – offer no clues to the turbulent life of an artist who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Ahead of a major retrospective, Olivia Laing celebrates her […]

Know Your Critics: What Did Irving Sandler Do?

Irving Sandler is an artists’ art historian. In contrast to other prominent midcentury art critics—like the New York Times’s John Canaday, who warned him against fraternizing with artists for fear of impairing his critical distance—Sandler purposefully immersed himself in his subjects’ milieu, first in his days as a young reviewer for Artnews and later as […]

Know Your Critics: What Did Harold Rosenberg Do?

Known for his support of “action painters”—his term for the Abstract Expressionists—Harold Rosenberg (1906-1978) was, along with Clement Greenberg, at the center of mid-century American art criticism. Together, these two critics developed the vocabulary and analytic tools to understand Abstract Expressionism, and to explain its advancements to the rest of the world. There was, however, a catch: […]

Know Your Critics: What Did Clement Greenberg Do?

Possibly the most renowned art critic in American history, Clement Greenberg (1904-1994) held sway for years in the postwar period over not only the popular perception of contemporary art being made in this country but also how the artists themselves thought about it and brought it into being in their studios. While his reign eventually came to […]

The top 10 artworks of the 20th century

From Picasso’s formidable whores and Magritte’s provocative pipe to Pollock painting like and angel, the best 20th-centrury art reflects a world of flux, abstraction and imagination. The century was not yet out of its teens. For most of the small minority aware of the experiments of modern art, the bright colours of Matisse were still […]