Peter Plagens

Celebrating Modern Art: The Anderson Collection

April 2008

Long before software entrepreneur Peter Norton discovered his passion for slick-but-socially-conscious art (e.g., Carrie Mae Weems) or UPN mogul Dean Valentine began scooping up the work of art-school debutantes, California collecting was … READ ON



August 2007

This exhibition gathers together some four hundred works by approximately 150 artists and represents the period when modern art’s center moved from Paris to New York.… READ ON


Class Reunion

The opening of “High Times, Hard Times”

February 2007 NEW YORK

In the aftermath of one of those nasty snowstorms in which one’s face is pummeled with what feels like ground glass and every sidewalk becomes a slippery slope to oblivion, Thursday night was bitterly cold. The dignified but cramped lobby… READ ON


Gray Tone

John Szarkowski

February 2006 NEW YORK

At the Tuesday night opening of “John Szarkowski Photographs,” the Museum of Modern Art was cold. Not just temperature-wise, on the drizzly night fate provided for the event, but psychologically, too. There’s something a bit dark gray… READ ON


Oscar Bluemner

September 2005

Curated by Barbara Haskell There are probably as few people around these days who remember Al Capp’s cartoon character Joe Btfsplk—so dogged by misfortune that he had his own personal raincloud hovering over him—as there are contemporary… READ ON


Sean Scully

September 2005

Curated by Stephen Bennett Philipps To some, Dublin-born Sean Scully is a profoundly joyful painter who, in spite of an obsession with cinder-block compositions and really big paintbrushes, almost manages to pull off greatness. To others, … READ ON


Gold Standard

The opening of the ADAA's “The Art Show”

February 2005 NEW YORK

Wine, wine, everywhere, but not a drop to drink—such was the case Wednesday night at the benefit opening (for the Henry Street Settlement) of the ADAA’s seventeenth annual edition of the Art Show at the Seventh Regiment Armory in Manhattan.… READ ON


the “Postartist”


February 2005

ON A PANEL IN THE EARLY ’90S, I said that art critics come in three types: goalies, cartographers, and evangelists. Goalies—most often reviewers for the popular press—play “defense,” preventing undeserving art from being considered… READ ON

IN PRINT February 2005 [TOC]

Gray Days

Two “Arts & Leisure Weekend” talks

January 2005 NEW YORK

As with a lot of other New York liberals, my love/hate relationship with the New York Times has recently drifted toward active dislike. This discontent has nothing to do with the malfeasances of Jayson Blair, Rick Bragg or Howell Raines—it… READ ON


the Whitney’s new curators


June 2004

IS THE WHITNEY remaking itself—again? When Tom Armstrong left in 1990 after seventeen years at the helm and David A. Ross took over as director, the museum supposedly jettisoned its predilection for artists from blue-chip SoHo galleries in… READ ON

IN PRINT Summer 2004 [TOC]