Best art in New York: Critics' picks
A slow and painstaking craftsman, Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) was believed to have produced a mere 66 paintings in his lifetime of which 34 survive. The Met owns five of his canvases (the Frick has another three), more than any other museum. Now, as the skylights of the museum’s European Paintings galleries undergo a major renovation, the Met’s Vermeers have been moved from their usual location to a smaller room where they have been re-installed on single wall. They’ll be there for the rest of the summer, providing a rare, don’t-miss opportunity to examine Vermeer’s work side-by-side.
We tend to think of a still life as a serene pictures of fruit and flowers, but Chaim Soutine (1893–1943) went in for a more brutal take on the genre with his depictions of animal carcasses rendered in thick, expressive brush strokes. Imbuing raw meat with a sense of suffering, Soutine, a Lithuanian Jew who emigrated to Paris, may have been reflecting on the anti-Semitic pogroms that raged during his childhood.
Art can arise from the strangest of circumstances—as in the case of Orra White Hitchcock, one of America’s first women botanical and scientific illustrators. The wife of Edward Hitchcock, a professor of natural sciences at Amherst, Orra White Hitchcock created drawings—including images of flora and fauna, and geological strata—that were used for her husband’s publications and classroom lectures. The results, which in some instances seem to meld into pure abstraction, are visually stunning.