And other excerpts from our coverage 100, 75, 50, and 25 years ago
—“Stolen Van Dyck,” May 16, 191475 YEARS AGO
If the “American Art Today” exhibition at the New York World’s Fair is really the voice of our contemporary plastic expression, the audience may sense that it suffers from an ailment of the larynx. Evidence of quality is there, but there are bad breaks and long periods of monotone between intervals of brilliance. . . .But it must be remembered that the intention is not to show the best, but the most characteristic. The five hundred and fifty paintings, two hundred and fifty sculptures, and four hundred works of graphic art were selected on a regional basis by local juries of artists chosen to represent all tastes. Since the aim was toward geographical as well as artistic catholicism, the competition in some areas was much keener than in others, and works of high quality were sometimes kept out to make room for less interesting representations of other tastes or locales. . . . The sponsors desired, by democratic means, to assemble an exhibition which would reveal the “average” of American art.
—“U.S. Art at the Fair: Democratic Selection & Standardized Result,” by Doris Brian, May 6, 193950 YEARS AGO
The Pre-Raphaelites’ reputation has always been unstable. Within two years of the formation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848, the pictures exhibited by Millais, Hunt and Rossetti were attracting almost unanimous abuse. Although Ruskin soon became the movement’s eloquent defender, critical obtuseness never grew into universal adulation and, today, Pre-Raphaelitism stands again in generally low repute. The Pre-Raphaelites never fared well in America: an exhibition sent to New York in 1857 had little impact, and since then the American public has had only rare opportunities to see their pictures.
—“Radical romantics,” by Allen F. Staley, May 196425 YEARS AGO
“I fully understand the people’s impatience, but each individual item has to be dealt with. While the actual monetary value of the things is not enormous, the sentimental value for these people is very great,” [Judge Reimar] Gradischnik says. “These are people who lost everything, and in some instances the artwork may have belonged to a parent and may be the only thing left. In a way, it’s people seeing a connection with their past. How do you put a value on that?”
—”Vienna: Complexity, Contradictions,” by Andrew Decker in New York, with Ferdinand Protzman in Vienna, May 1989