Art January 2023
On “An Italian Impressionist in Paris: Giuseppe De Nittis” at the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.
Calls to revise the history of this, that, and the other thing have become so numerous in recent years that they’ve instilled a reflexive skepticism in those of us who place a premium on differentiating between discernible facts and elaborate fictions, between events as they occurred on the ground and the arrogance of contemporary mores. Even within that variegated entity known as the art world there is a stunning conformity of opinion among elites as to the necessity of reconfiguring the roll calls of art to make them more inclusive. Of course, “inclusion” isn’t necessarily a bad thing—that is, if it remains tethered to artistic worth. All of which is a roundabout way of suggesting that the history of art does, in fact, need revision so that it can now include Giuseppe De Nittis (1846–84). You mean, a cisgendered heteronormative scion of patriarchal culture? Yes, and De Nittis was...
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