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

Latest Articles

Masterpiece: The Dignity of Work in "The Flower Carrier"
Diego Rivera's 1935 easel painting beautifully renders the daily strain and the contributions of Mexico's indigenous laborers

June 5, 2021  •  The Wall Street Journal

The new San Francisco Museum of Art had recently opened on the fourth floor of the city's War Memorial Veterans Building with a tiny collection when, in March 1935, a founding trustee named Albert M. Bender wrote to his friend, the artist Diego Rivera, in Mexico City. Bender had donated 23 Rivera works on paper as part of his foundational gift and now, he said, the accession committee "would like one of your pictures." He asked Rivera to send him "a representation of your work at its finest and best" that Bender would then donate.

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Rediscovering Roman Revelry: Review of 'Last Supper in Pompeii: From the Table to the Grave'
Channeling the spirit of Bacchus in an exhibit of food- and drink-related art and objects ranging from the mundane to the "naughty."

May 27, 2021  •  The Wall Street Journal

San Francisco

Pompeii beckons. Frozen in time when it was engulfed in volcanic ash and debris from Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79, then rediscovered in 1748, this ancient Roman town has fascinated the public ever since. Before the pandemic intervened, tourists were limited to 15,000 at a time, lest the site be overrun; now reopened, it is selling timed tickets and keeping attendance even lower.

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Masterpiece: More Than Fun and Games
Clarence H. White's 'The Ring Toss' was composed with all the intention of a painting or a sculpture.

May 1, 2021  •  The Wall Street Journal

When Clarence H. White staged and shot "The Ring Toss" in 1899, he was on a mission. Eleven years earlier, George Eastman had introduced his Kodak camera for the masses, and many people were seduced by its slogan, "You Press the Button, We Do the Rest." They avidly captured everyday scenes, sent the camera off to Kodak for processing, and enjoyed the snapshots that came back.

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'Americans in Spain: Painting and Travel, 1820-1920' Review: Iberian Influence
An exhibition highlights how sites like the Alhambra and old masters like Velázquez inspired a century of U.S. painters.

April 5, 2021  •  The Wall Street Journal

Norfolk, Va.

Like the U.S. itself, American art is woven from many strands, with the biggest and brightest threads inspired by French, British and Italian traditions. A new exhibition at the Chrysler Museum of Art gives weight and luster to a different aesthetic influence: "Americans in Spain: Painting and Travel, 1820-1920" explores the many ways American artists like William Merritt Chase, Mary Cassatt, Thomas Eakins and John Singer Sargent learned from the art, architecture, landscapes and people of Spain.

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A Staying Inside Guide: Big-Deal Art in Everyday Venues
During the Great Depression, federal programs funded the creation of thousands of murals in post offices, hospitals and other locations across the country, many viewable online.

March 25, 2021  •  The Wall Street Journal

In the ocean of federal relief provided to America's unemployed during and after the Great Depression, paying visual artists to create art was perhaps the most innovative wave then and among the most remembered now. With salaries from the Works Progress Administration and related agencies, thousands of men and women made paintings, sculpture, posters, photographs and, most notably, murals that decorated post offices, schools, hospitals, courthouses and other public buildings across the country.

By most counts, New Deal programs produced more than 2,500 murals, though records are incomplete. Worse, in the decades after the programs ended in 1943, many of these murals were moved, painted over, neglected or destroyed.

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