Articles by Paul Trachtman

Van Gogh painted his iconic The Starry Night in 1889, while in an asylum in Saint-Rémy.  "One of the most beautiful things by the painters of this century," he had written to Theo in April 1885, "has been the painting of Darkness that is still COLOR."

Van Gogh's Night Visions

For Vincent Van Gogh, fantasy and reality merged after dark in some of his most enduring paintings, as a new exhibition reminds us

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Back to the Figure

Recognizable forms are showing up in the works of a new wave of contemporary painters

In 1919 Marcel Duchamp penciled a mustache and goatee on a print of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and inscribed the work "L.H.O.O.Q." Spelled out in French these letters form a risqué pun: Elle a chaud au cul, or "She has hot pants." Intentionally disrespectful, Duchamp's defacement was meant to express the Dadaists' rejection of both artistic and cultural authority.

Switzerland

A Brief History of Dada

The irreverent, rowdy revolution set the trajectory of 20th-century art

Allen Street in Tombstone, Arizona.

Tombstone

In this Arizona outpost, residents revere the Wild West—and live it

The Overture to Tannhäuser: The Artist's Mother and Sister, 1868, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

Cézanne

The man who changed the landscape of art

35 Who Made a Difference: Wendell Berry

A Kentucky poet draws inspiration from the land that sustains him

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Toulouse-Lautrec

The fin de sià¨cle artist who captured Paris' cabarets and dance halls is drawing crowds to a new exhibition at Washington, D.C.'s National Gallery of Art

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Healing Arts

At Ojo Caliente, site of New Mexico's ancient hot springs, an artisan revives the craft of Native American pottery

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

Cleaning Picasso

The artist's groundbreaking Les Demoiselles d'Avignon gets a face lift from experts at New York's Museum of Modern Art

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Lee Bontecou's Brave New World

A star of the 1960s art scene returns with a triumphant exhibition of futuristic works

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Romare Bearden: Man of Many Parts

A new exhibition showcases Bearden's innovative collages and stakes a claim for him in the pantheon of 20th-century American artists

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Too Hot to Handle

Taken at the start of his multifaceted career, Gordon Parks' photograph of a Washington, D.C. worker was so inflammatory it was buried for decades

Legal challenges from environmental groups over a two-year period stymied the efforts of ranger Kate Klein (a mile from her station) to thin a forest tract by commercial logging. A catastrophic fire broke out just days after she prepared a final rebuttal.

Fire Fight

With forests burning, U.S. officials are clashing with environmentalists over how best to reduce the risk of catastrophic blazes

Through the elliptical opening of its East Portal visitors will see the sky in a new way.

James Turrell's Light Fantastic

The innovative artist has devoted his life to transforming

The Dance Class (La Classe de Danse), 1873–1876, oil on canvas, by Edgar Degas

Degas and His Dancers

A major exhibition and a new ballet bring the renowned artist's obsession with dance center stage

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To the Rescue

Las Vegas showman Jonathan Kraft went from riches to rags to turn a patch of Arizona desert into a refuge for abused and abandoned exotic animals

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Matisse & Picasso

As a new exhibition makes clear, these friends and rivals spurred each other to change the course of 20th-century art

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Wittgenstein's Ghost

When two philosophers nearly came to blows, they defined a debate that rages a half century later

The legendary Moai statues have fascinated modern civilization since their discovery.

The Secrets of Easter Island

The more we learn about the remote island from archaeologists and researchers, the more intriguing it becomes

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Hero for Our Time

Challenged to prove his germ theory of disease, Louis Pasteur shaped the terrain on which the battle against anthrax is being fought