Art Review

New exhibit places Hopper in the context of ‘His Time’

Edward Hopper’s imagery is so deeply ingrained in the American imagination that the impulse to associate it with hackneyed states of alienation is by now difficult to undo.


A body of work that maximizes provocation

A terrific survey of her work at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art suggests that Lynda Benglis has, in fact, been one of the most compelling, fearless, jubilant, and underrated American artists of the past 40 years.

Art Review

PEM exhibit opens door to an emperor’s treasures

Everything was arranged according to principles based in Chinese philosophy, poetry, and aesthetic traditions. And yet much about the end result revealed qualities very particular to the emperor’s own character and his time.

Critic’s Notebook

New look rewrites museum founder’s vision for her guests

She was strong-willed, independent, and forward-thinking. We all know that. But it’s easy to forget that, by and large, Isabella Stewart Gardner had a hostile relationship with modernity.

Art Review

A revelatory show explores the career-long influence of Degas on Picasso

Good exhibitions reveal to us things we didn’t already know. This show’s thesis — that Picasso was looking closely at Degas at regular intervals throughout his long career — has never seriously been proposed before.


Exhibit puts the heroic Matisse on display

Compelling works from 1913-1917 show how the artist grappled with Cubism — and rose to the challenge.

Art Review

Sights to savor

Luis Meléndez was an incredible painter. It takes about two seconds to register that. It’s only when you spend a bit of time with his mesmerizing still lifes that your admiration for his virtuosity starts to float away and mutate into a very different, dangerously unstable feeling.


Engulfed in skies and seas

Spatter, splash, swivel, and swoop. Willem de Kooning’s “Untitled’’ is a painting I go to bed dreaming about.

Frame by Frame

Finding the wit in ‘Shopping for Furs’

Some jokes are purely pictorial. They don’t require cartoon captions. Explaining them in words would be like dousing a dancing flame.

Frame by Frame

From chaos, a suspended beauty

In the three-plus years since its painstaking installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Cornelia Parker’s “Hanging Fire (Suspected Arson)’’ has become one of the most popular pieces of contemporary art on view in this city.

About Sebastian Smee


Smee, an art critic for the Globe, previously wrote for a number of publications in London and Sydney. He is the author of five books on Lucian Freud, and one on Matisse and Picasso.