Questioning Authority

“Whose body?” “Who is beyond the law?” “When was the last time you laughed?” Those are among the questions posed in “Belief+Doubt,” Barbara Kruger’s new installation at the Hirshhorn Museum. Kruger has explored issues of power, commercialism and resistance through her large-scale text works since the early ’80s. “Belief+Doubt,” which will be in place through […]

Artwork Bound to Rich History

The illustrated books made in Persia and Mughal-ruled India between 1400 and 1700 are “among the greatest manu-scripts ever produced anywhere,” according to Debra Diamond, an organizer of the Sackler Gallery’s “Worlds Within Worlds: Imperial Paintings from India and Iran.” Persian and Mughal manuscripts are also, she says, “deeply intertwined.” Yet they’re rarely shown together […]

Minimalist Reflections

Many viewers were surprised when abstract impressionist painter Barnett Newman first showed his “The Stations of the Cross: Lema Sabachthani” series at New York’s Guggenheim Museum in 1966. The 14-painting cycle, now on display in the National Gallery of Art’s Tower Gallery, even struck some as “ridiculous,” says Harry Cooper, the NGA’s curator of modern […]

Essence of the Beach

The works in “Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series,” on view through Sept. 23 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, are not exactly representational. The series is named for a Santa Monica neighborhood, though, and its imagery hints at what might be seen there: surf, turf and sky. “The paintings certainly evoke landscapes,” says Philip […]

Fit to Print

Jasper Johns broke into the art world in 1958 as a painter. Within two years he had become a printmaker as well. The latter vocation is the focus of “Jasper Johns: Variations on a Theme,” a new show at the Phillips Collection. A broad survey of Johns’ printmaking, the 101-piece exhibition was initiated by the […]

Luminaries, in a New Light

In the 1930s and ’40s, photographer Harry Warnecke was a sort of emissary from the full-color future. His work revealed to ordinary people what their black-and-white heroes really looked like. “In Vibrant Color: Vintage Celebrity Portraits From the Harry Warnecke Studio,” on display at the National Portrait Gallery, is an assortment of his work, showing […]

Hues of History

The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s new “African-American Art: The Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era and Beyond” exhibit features works from a relatively narrow span of years — 100 pieces by 43 artists, made between 1922 and 1994. But those decades were a particularly dynamic time of artistic and social foment that had a lasting impact […]

Rare View of a Culture

Japan sequestered itself from the West from 1600 to 1853, when most of the art in three current D.C. exhibitions was made. Yet despite this attempt to shield the country from Christian missionaries, Western culture seeped in. The paintings in “Colorful Realm: Japanese Bird-and-Flower Paintings by Ito Jakuchu,” at the National Gallery of Art, show […]

What a Long, Strange Trip

In 1961, an unusual children’s book was published. Written by architect Norton Juster and illustrated by his friend and Brooklyn neighbor Jules Feiffer, “The Phantom Tollbooth” was considered a dubious commercial proposition by its publisher. A little more than 50 years later, it’s sold more than 4 million copies and has been read by untold […]

Dance Into the Past

“Damsels in Distress,” writer-director Whit Stillman’s first movie in almost 14 years, is set on a college campus — and in a sort of time warp. “I didn’t want to make a period film,” says the D.C.-born director, who visited his childhood hometown last week with the film’s star, Greta Gerwig. But the story was […]