The buzzword for the fall art season is "connoisseurship." Museum
exhibitions in New York address a broad spectrum of art history,
from Old Masters to rebellious Beatniks. The goal is to train the
viewer's eye with side-by-side comparisons of real and fake
masterpieces, expand awareness of seldom-seen artworks, and
evaluate an entire cultural movement.
Real versus fake
The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers two exhibitions that compare
accepted masterpieces with paintings now "de-attributed." In other
"Goya at the Metropolitan" presents more than 300 works from the
museum's collection, from drawings to oils. The show contrasts, for
example, the popular painting "Majas on a Balcony," which is of
doubtful authenticity, to a verifiable Goya from a private
collection. Also on display are Goya's print cycles in their
entirety, such as "The Disasters of War" with its harrowing images
A month later the Met does it again, with "Rembrandt/Not
Rembrandt." Paintings, drawings, and prints by Rembrandt and his
wannabe pupils and imitators hang cheek by jowl, challenging the
viewer to discern and judge. Only about half - or around 20 - of
the Met's "Rembrandts" have been confirmed by the Rembrandt
Research Project, which has been striking terror into the hearts of
curators the world over.
The hit of the fall season is likely to be a show in an entirely
different vein, "Beat Culture and the New America: 1950-1965," at
the Whitney Museum of American Art. The show examines the Beat
generation's cultural legacy through more than 200 objects from
this explosive period of artistic ferment.
The multidisciplinary show highlights writers such as Jack Kerouac,
Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs; independent films such as
Robert Frank's "Pull My Daisy," jazz musicians including Charlie
Parker, and artists such as Larry Rivers, Robert Rauschenberg, and
John Chamberlain who shared the Beat sensibility.
More from these artists is at other venues. Rauschenberg will
occupy the downtown Gagosian Gallery with new paintings on metal.
Ginsberg shows his captioned portraits of buddies like Paul Bowles,
Burroughs, and Gregory Corso in a lovely exhibition of photographs
at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery.
All the lonely people
Overlapping the Beat show at the Whitney is a retrospective of
Robert Frank's photographs, which opened at the National Gallery in
Washington and will travel to Los Angeles's Lannan Foundation next
spring. Known for his legendary book, "The Americans" (1959), the
Swiss-American photographer punctured Eisenhower-era complacency
with his tense images of lonely men and women - a quintessential
Beat critique. …