There’s No School Like the Old School


Oscar Wilde, sometime love of my literary life, once said, “Everything popular is wrong.” Well, sometimes he’s right on with that one and sometimes he’s not. Considering young people who like and blog about art, you might think that “popular” art is anything new, edgy or obtuse. A room full of oranges accompanied by video screens showing people peeling oranges might blow up your local young art blog but what about the classics?

He also said, "to love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong love affair." Considering how he's dressed, it's no surprise he loved himself.

Everyone is always looking for the next new thing, right? Well, if that’s what we’re applying the above Wilde quote to, the new or otherwise known as “the popular,” then shucks, I’m gonna have to concur with my dear friend Oscar. That being said, let’s take a trip to the storied Metropolitan Museum of Art right here in New York.

First of all, the incredible Robert Frank show, put together by my home team, The National Gallery of Art in DC, is game changing.

Trolley, New Orleans

The exhibit, entitled, “Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans” celebrates the 50th anniversary of Frank’s seminal The Americans book of black and white photos of, you guessed it, Americans!

"New York City" To me, the eyebrows say it all.

But seriously, if you aren’t familiar with Frank or The Americans here’s a quick sum up: after a short period of indifference at its publication in 1959, critics and the public alike, wised up to the brilliance of Frank’s simple yet powerful street photography.

Charleston, North Carolina

This show at the Met brings the original prints back together plus contact sheets and earlier works by Frank, who still lives and shoots in New York.

Movie Premiere, Hollywood

It’s only on until January 3rd so make sure you get on over to check it out.

Annnnd, as if that weren’t enough incentive for you to get on that 6 train then listen to this. If you’re an art nerd like me, or if you just like American history or interesting beautiful stuff, make sure to take a look at American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765-1915.

Watson and the Shark by John Singleton Copley

The appeal of this exhibit may lie in its simplicity: regular people leading regular lives.

The New Bonnet by Francis WIlliam Edmonds

These images give us an idea of how quickly and dynamically American life changed over a relatively short period of time.

The Power of Music by William Sidney Mount

Some may find classic works of art like these staid or impertinent to our modern lives in the 21st century but the themes and humanity, the facial expressions and fashion, are all too familiar and prove that we could all learn something from these American masters.

The Artist in His Museum by Charles Wilson Peale

In many ways, our very own American stories may not be so very different. This special exhibit also closes in January on the 24th so hurry it up and take in some American Stories. Ya heard?

The Jolly Flatboatmen by George Caleb Bingham (a favorite since I was a wee van Peebles)

Get your MetroCard, get to the Met and get involved!!


-Pebbles van Peebles


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