Magazine article New Criterion

Exhibition Note

Magazine article New Criterion

Exhibition Note

Article excerpt

"A Beautiful and Gracious Manner: The Art of Parmigianino" at The Frick Collection, New York. January 27, 2004-April 18, 2004

Is some Parmigianino better than no Parmigianino? That is the question.

It seems only yesterday that this artist formerly known as Mannerist received major museum treatment. In art years, it almost was yesterday: the landmark "Correggio & Parmigianino: Master Draughtsmen of the Renaissance" traveled between The British Museum, London, and the Metropolitan Museum, New York, in 2000 and 2001. The catalogue of this exhibition, with an essay by Carmen C. Bambach on Parmigianino, is still a must read for any good understanding of the relationship between the two great early-sixteenth-century talents of Parma--sometimes rivals and sometimes mentor (Correggio) and pupil (Parmigianino).

While the current show, an import from the National Gallery of Canada, lacks the rigor and thoroughness of the 2000-2001 exhibition, one may say that it never promises anything more (a tiny attempt at matching drawing to painting goes nowhere). Here is a "celebration" on the quincentennial of the artist's birth, regardless of how one might feel about the term "celebration" as an odious appropriation from the publicity industry. And while collections like the Pierpont Morgan Library opted out of lending top work in 2004 as they did in 2000/2001, there can still be lemonade in the lemons of a hit and miss show. Although I have yet to encounter a museum that admits to exhibiting so-so examples of an artist's work--after all, who would lend to such a thing? …

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