Oprah Earned This Museum Show. And It’s a Potent Spectacle.

Maybe the chaos extremity of current events has made us wistful for the moral authority of “Oprah Winfrey”: school massacres, police shootings of unarmed black people, men chronically mistreating women, the government’s separation of children from their migrant parents. Whenever somebody pleads for a national conversation — about anything, really — what they’re saying is, “Where the hell is Oprah?” Many a desperate “O”-shaped Bat signal has gone up in the last half-dozen years, and in January, the country believed she was answering it. That’s one way to interpret the…

The Transformative Nature of the Photographs of Diane Arbus

Lens Diane Arbus’ portfolio “A Box of Ten Photographs” was pivotal in the acceptance of photography by the art world. A book published by Aperture and the Smithsonian American Art Museum examines the portfolio and it’s impact. “Boy with a straw hat waiting to march in a pro-war parade, N.Y.C. 1967.”CreditThe Estate of Diane Arbus John P. Jacob first saw Diane Arbus’s work in 1980 while taking a college photo class to help him in his chosen career of architectural preservation. The effect of her images was so powerful that…

They Suffered for Their Cézanne Portraits

WASHINGTON — There’s an engrossing confab of a show in session at the National Gallery of Art here. It’s called “Cézanne Portraits.” With some 60 likenesses by a notoriously testy, people-averse artist, it’s the largest gathering of its kind in a century. (The last one was in Paris in 1910.) And it has just a few more weeks to run, so if you’re going to catch the conversation, which I seriously recommend, the time is now. You’ll know most of the players by type, if not by name. Cézanne himself,…

In Venice, Center of Cruising, a Biennale Show About Hooking Up

VENICE — On a recent night on the island of Giudecca, a water taxi ride across the lagoon from the many cocktail parties marking the opening of the Architecture Biennale here, the curators of a scrappy pavilion were focusing on cruising of a less nautical sort. In the main space of the so-called Cruising Pavilion — an exhibition devoted to the places and practices of casual sex — sheets of plywood were pierced by a profusion of glory holes, a hallmark of anonymous gay hookups. A dapple of scarlet lamplight…

Warhol at the Whitney: From Myth to Man

“Warhol was a myth when he was alive, and he’s even more of a myth now,” said Donna De Salvo, deputy director and senior curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art. “To humanize Warhol and get people to actually look at what he made is not as easy as it might sound.” Now Ms. De Salvo is tackling that challenge in “Andy Warhol — From A to B and Back Again,” the artist’s first retrospective in the United States since 1989, opening on Nov. 12. An earlier show, at…

Bronx Museum of the Arts Hires New Director

After a period of turmoil and tragedy, the Bronx Museum of the Arts has tapped a new director: Deborah Cullen. A Bronx resident, she is currently the director of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University. Ms. Cullen, 53, will succeed Holly Block, who served as director at the Bronx Museum for 11 years and died of breast cancer last fall at 58. During her tenure, the museum saw a sizable increase in attendance and made a splash on the international stage, sponsoring the exhibition that…

Artists Who Lose Their Vision, Then See Clearly

Pablo Picasso likely wasn’t thinking about macular degeneration when he remarked: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist as we grow up.” But the statement has more than a grain of truth in it for Serge Hollerbach, 94, a Russian-born artist in Manhattan. Mr. Hollerbach painted throughout every aspect of his vision loss caused by macular degeneration, a disease that affects 10 million Americans, often in their twilight years — typically depleting their central vision and leaving most legally blind, but with some remnant…

Glasgow’s Artists Mourn After Fire Rips Through City’s Creative Heart

LONDON — In the 1980s, Nathan Coley became transfixed by the Glasgow School of Art’s main building, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Mr. Coley was an awkward teenager who stood out at his high school because of both his 6-foot-2 height and his interest in art. The building offered an escape. “I knew of this strange, romantic building on the hill, and the idea of studying in it was such a powerful promise — the idea that you could go through those beautiful wooden doors and be transported into another…

Christo’s Latest Work Weighs 650 Tons. And It Floats.

LONDON — Wearing a hard hat and a cargo jacket, the artist Christo stood on a platform looking over the Serpentine lake one April morning and watched his latest creation come to life. As ducks glided across the water, men in orange jumpsuits began assembling the installation, a crane hovering above their heads. “The London Mastaba,” Christo’s first major outdoor work in Britain, is now floating (through Sept. 23) in the middle of the lake in Hyde Park. A trapezoidal pyramid of 7,506 painted and horizontally stacked barrels, it’s 66…

Posters, Banners, Boarding Passes: Museums Try to Get a Head Start on History

The day after Ireland’s recent abortion referendum, Brenda Malone woke up early, walked to her car and took a stepladder and some wire cutters out of the trunk. Then she started climbing up lampposts and cutting down any campaign posters she could find. The first one had a picture of a fetus on it, with the words “Don’t repeal me.” Ms. Malone may have looked like an activist claiming mementos of the referendum or a protester making a final act of defiance after Ireland’s vote to rescind the Constitution’s ban…