Commonplace Book: Impressionism and Couture at the Met

NYTimes fine art critic Roberta Smith kind of flipped her wig Friday about the new “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity” show at the Met. (And it sounds like it justifies every bit of praise she showered on it.)

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A nicely-crafted bit from her review:

The show tells its tale through a dazzling surround of visual culture high and low, small and large, flat and round. I recommend not missing a thing: not a pleat, ruche or lace parasol; not a painted background, glove or slipper toe; not a photograph or magazine; not a corset, fan or black choker, whether depicted or actual. Such attention reveals frequent similarities of garments (and poses) in the magazines, photographs, paintings and costumed mannequins. A result is an intense, almost hallucinatory swirl in which art and artifact continually change places, and a basic wisdom is demonstrated: any well-selected thing can illuminate any other.

Such a well-managed example of one of the hardest things in writing, (oddly not much taught) handling a list with elegance, detail and rhythm. And that last line, “any well-selected thing can illuminate any other,” Tumblr’s motto perhaps?

More seriously, whoever at the Met or Art Institute of Chicago is encouraging all these brilliantly curated fashion and art shows, and managing to get them funded, bravo! They are like the best engrossing arts documentaries, making you look at something in a completely new way.

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