Sarah Boxer

  • Deirdre Bair’s Saul Steinberg

    Saul Steinberg: A Biography, by Deirdre Bair. New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2012. 732 pages.

    BIOGRAPHY IS A FORM OF INDENTURED SERVITUDE. The writer devotes years of his or her life worrying the details of someone else’s—a life deemed to be, in most instances, of greater import than the writer’s own. In the case of the biographical subject known as Saul Steinberg, the Romanian-born artist best known for his trenchantly philosophical drawings and covers for the New Yorker—among them View of the World from 9th Avenue, 1976, more commonly called “The New Yorker’s View of the

  • Yoshitomo Nara

    THE LAST TIME Yoshitomo Nara’s cute ’n’ angry girls appeared in New York in a big way, they were under the umbrella of “Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture,” Takashi Murakami’s provocative show at the Japan Society in 2005. There Nara’s little rebels were representatives—one example among many—of “superflat” art. Now that Nara has an exhibition all his own, “Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody’s Fool,” at the Asia Society (until January 2), we can ask: Does he really fit the superflat mold?

    In the “Little Boy” catalogue, Murakami explained how Japan came to be a superflat nation,

  • F. Holland Day

    ALFRED STIEGLITZ, EDWARD STEICHEN, AND JULIA MARGARET CAMERON have all had large exhibitions in the last few years. So why not F. Holland Day? F. Holland who?

    Fred Holland Day was born in Boston in 1864, the same year as Stieglitz. Like Cameron, Day took intense, dreamy portraits of his friends and their children. Like Stieglitz and Steichen, he became one of the leading pictorialists, or “fuzzy-wuzzies,” as Edward Weston once called them—those turn-of-the-century photographers who tried to emulate painting through their blurry photographs of picturesque tableaux. So how is it that Stieglitz,

  • Saul Steinberg

    SAUL STEINBERG, the New Yorker artist famous for his map of the self-centered way Manhattanites see the world, was practically a household name in America for the second half of the twentieth century. But in art history he is nowhere. Why? That is a question posed by two current New York exhibitions (neither of which is at an art museum): “Saul Steinberg: Illuminations,” at the Morgan Library & Museum, and “A City on Paper: Saul Steinberg’s New York,” at the Museum of the City of New York, both organized by Joel Smith, curator of photography at the Princeton University Art Museum (the latter

  • “Masters of American Comics”

    FIFTEEN YEARS is a long time to prepare a retort. “Masters of American Comics,” an exhibition certifying the genius of fifteen male comics artists, eleven of them dead, seems to be a detailed answer to the Museum of Modern Art’s infamous 1990–91 show “High & Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture.”

    At the time of “High & Low,” reviewers accused the curators of patronizing and sanitizing popular culture, shunning anything dark, gay, erotic, or feminist. Among the critics lamenting the show’s superficial treatment of comics was Art Spiegelman, the author of Maus (Pantheon Books, 1991), who published

  • Richard Avedon

    Richard Avedon’s life as a portrait photographer began in the ’40s when he was assigned to take mug shots in the merchant marines. “I must have taken pictures of maybe 100,000 baffled faces before it ever occurred to me I was becoming a photographer,” he said. That experience may explain why Avedon’s style is so stringent. The 180 pictures in “Richard Avedon: Portraits,” curated by Maria Morris Hambourg, run from the ’40s to the present. But the focus is Avedon’s gift to the Metropolitan Museum of the 115 photographs from his landmark 1975 show at the Marlborough Gallery:

  • Lewis Carroll

    Take away the whiff of pedophilia in the photographs of Lewis Carroll and what’s left? Perhaps the idea that Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Carroll, was playing on the boundaries between dreaming and waking and between theatricality and absorption. “Dreaming in Pictures: The Photography of Lewis Carroll,” a traveling exhibition of seventy-six vintage prints organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and opening there August 3, will look at Dodgson’s photography from an art-historical perspective—that is, without the wink and smirk.

    Enough speculation about whether this shy, stuttering

  • Irving Penn

    In 1991, more than forty years after he had completed his first nudes, Irving Penn declared: “The relationship between us was professional, without a hint of sexual response. Anything else would have made pictures like these impossible.”

    In 2001 Penn said of the same sessions, “It was a kind of love affair. I was a bachelor at the time.” He recalled staying connected to the models “with coos, murmurs, and supportive breathing to convey that everything was wonderful, just right in this perfect situation.” He would get down on the floor with his camera right next to the model. The camera allowed

  • The Book of 101 Books

    STRIP AWAY THE LUSH trappings of The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century (PPP Editions/Roth Horowitz, 2001), and you basically have a list. But what a list! It begins with The North American Indian, Edward S. Curtis's twenty-volume portrait of “a vanishing race” from 1907, and ends with LaChapelle Land, David LaChapelle's 1996 book of personal kitsch. In between, you can chart the progress and regress of the photographic book over the course of the twentieth century.

    Each title gets the royal treatment: a spread (at least) including several sample pages and a

  • September 11 in image and print

    THE EVENTS OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, were beyond measure. But when the day ended, the visual limits were fixed. The editors of news agencies and newspapers had their film. For all time, there would be certain balls of fire, certain bits of debris, certain last views of the World Trade Center, certain running crowds, certain spectators, certain firefighters, certain oxygen tanks, certain ruins, and certain shirts. They would become part of the national iconography. Two new books, published only eight weeks after the date, suggest in different ways why we have the images we do.

    New York September 11,