Judith H. Dobrzynski
Judith H. Dobrzynski
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

Latest Articles

Grant Wood: More Than 'American Gothic'
He is far more complicated than his reputation as the sentimental bard of an idealized rural life.

March 1, 2018  •  The Wall Street Journal

Not far into " Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables" at the Whitney Museum of American Art, visitors meet the probable cause of their visit: the stern pair of Iowa farmers who inhabit Wood's iconic painting. "American Gothic" (1930) is so renowned that when it arrived in London last year for an exhibition, the Guardian called it "a huge moment" because, save for its appearance in the same show in Paris three months before, this arguably "most famous of all American paintings" had never before "left North American soil."

The writer, like many others before and since, then described the duo as a man and his wife—not, as Wood said, a farmer and his daughter (later acknowledged in a footnote to the article).

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Masterpiece: A Painting Framed in Mystery
'The Paston Treasure' flaunts a family's wealth while meditating on death.

February 24, 2018  •  The Wall Street Journal

To borrow from Winston Churchill, "The Paston Treasure" is a puzzling peculiarity, enveloped in mystery. Measuring 8 feet by 5.4 feet, the painting (c. 1663) transports the viewer to the luxurious 17th-century milieu of the land-owning Paston family of Norfolk, England. Beautifully painted, with many precise details, it asserts the Pastons' wealth and prominence near their zenith, before the English Civil War and too-lavish spending took them down a peg.

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Sotheby's Acquires Viyet.com
To attract new clients, the auctioneer snaps up the four-year-old online marketplace for vintage furnishings

February 13, 2018  •  Architectural Digest

Sotheby's is moving deeper into the online decorative arts business, with the announcement today that is it acquiring Viyet.com, a four-year-old online marketplace for vintage and antique furniture and decorative objects. The purchase is meant to help Sotheby's chief executive Tad Smith fulfill a goal he set soon after he joined the company in 2015—to expand sales in the "middle market," defined as $5,000 to $50,000 for decorative arts and $25,000 to $1 million for fine arts.

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A Renaissance Artist Cloaked in Mystery
Sittow was popular in his day, painting for several monarchs, yet this is the first monographic exhibition of the Estonian's work.

January 29, 2018  •  The Wall Street Journal


Just as the National Gallery of Art was about to close its widely heralded "Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting" in its premier exhibition space, it was hanging the works of an earlier Northern European artist in a gallery off to the side. " Michel Sittow: Estonian Painter at the Courts of Renaissance Europe" lacks the branding power of Vermeer and is unlikely to draw his crowds—sadly. No-shows will be missing out on a superb exhibit of paintings by a powerful, somewhat mysterious painter who deserves to be better-known.

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Don't Tell Ken Burns Quilts Are Quaint
The quintessential storyteller is fascinated by American quilts, saying it's not so much a story as a question. Who made this?

January 19, 2018  •  The New York Times

This week, the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, Neb., will reveal a surprising side of the prolific filmmaker Ken Burns: He collects quilts. The exhibition "Uncovered: The Ken Burns Collection" will display 28 of them for the first time.

Mr. Burns has been buying American quilts since the mid-1970s, often on prowls through antique stores on the back roads of New England; before too long, dealers began coming to him.

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