Leaving the Four Arts and the art of a near-distant past, one is struck by how quickly what was once novel is now accepted in staid surroundings, though rarely quickly enough for the artists themselves to reap material benefit.
Fairfield Porter painted images of a leisurely life on Long Island and in Maine when abstract expressionism was ascendant, and in that zeitgeist the idea of an American artist chronicling a trouble-free suburban environment would easily be taken for dilettantism.
Much of Piero’s life and travels are matters of quiet conjecture. In a sense, he was what might be called today an independent or an artist’s artist. His identity and the character of his art were not centered on the artistic and political pressures of Florence, Siena, and Rome.
In the second floor hallway of the Metropolitan Museum, the opening wall text of Pastel Portraits: Images of 18th-Century Europe describes the physical components of pastel and concludes with the phrase “this little understood medium.” Juxtaposed on the adjacent wall are over-life-sized photographs of the pastel-making process. These gripping introductions to the Metropolitan Museum’s first pastel…