Today at the DBR: A few thoughts about Cindy Sherman, and the beginnings of an idea of conceptual art.
Archive for the ‘Beaux Arts’ Category
Today at the DBR: We went to see “The Steins Collect,” an exhibition at the Museum that’s just opened. We were, I was not surprised to find, underwhelmed. We agreed that it would have been better had it been smaller, less outreachingly comprehensive. It would also have been more agreeable had the galleries been less crowded: the place was packed.
© 2009 Tom Waterhouse
(Except me. I had a great year, really; I was the spring in this guy’s step.)
In a sidebar, Jorn Madslien reports that Shanghai Automotive Industries owns a majority share of Shanghai General Motors’s venture in India, leaving (American) General Motors to take “a back seat.” (BBC News)
¶ Lauds: A very interesting comment from Felix Salmon, writing about productivity/price differentials between the fine-arts and photography markets. The former has split in two, with mass-marketed items buoying a “an elite circle of valuable works.” The dynamic hasn’t been tried in photography.
¶ Tierce: How to account for same-sex liaisons in terms of natural selection? The investigation promises to be complex and counterintuitive. Also: resistant to cross-species generalizations!
Gore Vidal has always insisted that there is really no such thing as homosexuality; perhaps he’s right after all. (New Scientist)
¶ Vespers: At HuffPo, Alexander Nazaryan proposes Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland as the American novel of the passing decade. We heartily concur, and we nominate Joshua Ferris’s Then We Came to the End as runner-up.
¶ Matins: At New Geography, Aaron Renn looks at the outmigration of the middle class from “cool” cities, and attributes it, persuasively, to the failure of civic responsibility among “global” elites.
Clearly, the current models for organizing metropolitan areas are wholly inadequate. In our view, layers of government (state, country, local, school district) ought to be replaced by types of government: highly coordinated networking authorities (transit, power, hospitals) coexisting with highly localized service providers (schools, clinics, and parks). (via The Morning News)
¶ Lauds: Cityscape critic Blair Kamin is surprised to be supporting the destruction of a shed designed by Mies van der Rohe. The accompanying photograph is a bit of a tease: the shed hides behind a fence. (Chicago Tribune; via Arts Journal)
¶ Prime: PIMCO’s Mohamed El-Erian finds in the Dubai debt standstill “a reminder to all: last year’s financial crisis was a consequential phenomenon whose lagged impact is yet to play out fully in the economic, financial, institutional and political arenas.” We knew this, but it’s great to hear it from an eminent fund manager.
In our own front yard, Wall Street’s influence inside the White House needs to be muzzled, if not baffled. (Telegraph; via Marginal Revolution)
¶ Tierce: Michael Bond briefly but lucidly reviews Eli Berman’s Radical, Religious and Violent: The New Economics of Terrorism, a new sociological study that, notwithstanding its title, sees beyond the religious angle. (New Scientist)
¶ Sext: Nico Muhly, writing from Amsterdam, finds “a sort of childlike pornography” in Nederlands orthography. (This vanishes when you learn how to pronounce things.) He is also “obsessed” by the common digraph, ij. (via Snarkmarket)
¶ Nones: Predictably, Sunday’s election in Honduras settled almost nothing, even though Porfirio Lobo appears to have won more or less fairly. The Honduran Congress will vote today on whether Mel Zelaya will finish out his term in office. (NYT)
¶ Vespers: n case the popularity of a current blockbuster has you wondering if you’d like to read the book, Jenny Turner not only reconsiders her review in the London Review of Books but also supplies a list of blogs that offer highly entertaining spoilers about the later novels in this peculiar series.
¶ Compline: Having got wind of special treatment for denizens of the eastern-most block of West 61st Street on Thanksgiving Day, Clyde Haberman investigated in person. His worst fears are confirmed. (NYT)
¶ Matins: Tyler Cowen’s thoughts about Swiss minarets are appropriately complex. Referendums are deplorable, because they open the door as nothing else does to prejudice. “…knowing how and when to defuse an issue is one very large part of political wisdom. The Swiss usually pass this test but this time they failed it.” (Marginal Revolution)
¶ Nones: The Vatican continues to regard its affairs as lying beyond the writ and ken of civil authorities. “The Vatican should apologise for failing to co-operate with an inquiry into sex abuse by Catholic priests in Ireland, a Dublin bishop has said.” (BBC News)
¶ Compline: Shock and Awl: Choire and Balk both driven batty by current events. Choire returns from Thanksgiving weekend viscerally alert to the Idiocracy afoot in the land. “Craziness: it’s not just for wingnuts anymore.” Meanwhile, Alex has Lady Gaga issues.
Although both pieces are nicely funny, the two pieces are salt and pepper as to coherence. Choire, slightly hysterical perhaps, nevertheless sticks to his topic. Balk, in contrast, is almost grotesquely inconsequent. But that’s why we love him!
¶ Matins: Kenneth Davis writes about the first Thanksgiving to be given on land that would one day be part of the United States — by Huguenots in Florida. Their base, Fort Caroline (named after Charles IX), did not last very long; nor did they: the Spanish eradicated everything in 1565.
Mr Davis’s litany of religious persecutions in America exhorts us to regard Thanksgiving not as the commemoration of a hallowed past but as a celebration of how far we have come from our dark origins — and a reminder of how far we have yet to go. (NYT)
¶ Lauds: Charis Wilson, Edward Weston’s most notable muse (and his only “art wife”), died last Friday in Santa Cruz, aged 95. (Los Angeles Times; via Arts Journal)
As it happens, we’ve been reading about Charis Wilson in Francine Prose’s The Lives of the Muses. Great reading!
¶ Prime: We’re not terribly interested in the recent privatization of Chicago’s parking meters — or, rather, we weren’t until Felix Salmon decided to look into the matter. His conclusion: the city didn’t do too badly, and the contractors are idiots. The detail worth noting is that what Chicago’s alderman wanted, of course, was to raise parking meter prices without being accountable.
¶ Tierce: The Aesthete unearths the strange figure of George Sebastian, an adventurer who married American money and used it to builid Dar Sebastian, still a breathtaking edifice in Hammamet, Tunisia. (An Aesthete’s Lament)
¶ Sext: We love a good prank as much as anybody — probably more, as long as we’re not the victim — and so we’re rejoicing at the news that The Awl now has a whole department devoted to reviewing “pranks and their aftermaths.” Okay, they have Juli Weiner, who we hope is still enrolled in a good college.
¶ Nones: William Finnegan’s New Yorker excellent report on the situation in Honduras is not, sadly, online, although an abstract is available. For regular readers who have been following the matter here, there is little substantially new in the piece, and in fact we were gratified to read that coup leader Roberto Michelletti, in television appearances, “tends to glower, and speak from the side of his mouth, like Dick Cheney.” However, we hadn’t encountered anything like Mr Finnegan’s thumbnail of the constitution that ousted president “Mel” Zelaya wants to replace.
¶ Vespers: We’ve read Lauren Elkin’s review of Jeremy Davies’s Rose Alley several times now, and while we’re not certain that we want to read the novel, we’re intrigued by Ms Elkin’s account of it. (The Second Pass)
¶ Compline: Maria Popova (of Brain Pickings) takes “a look at what the Intenet is doing for learning, curiosity, and creativity outside the classroom.” There’s a lot about TED, which appears to be better understood in Europe than it is here. (Good)
To see how traditional education appears on the Internet, have a look at the Syllabus of Dr E L Skip Knox’s fully online course, sponsored by Boise State University, in HIST101 — The History of Western Civilization. (via MetaFilter)
¶ Matins: Driving while intoxicated, and with a child in the car, will be made a felony, according to a law that has passed the New York State Assembly. Interlock devices, which block ignition when the driver’s breath carries faint amounts of alcohol, will be required for drivers convicted of driving while intoxicated. (NYT)
¶ Lauds: Lucy Lu recently celebrated the first anniversary of Met Everyday, her online report of visits to the Museum. Her list of ten things that you must see (or wings that you must visit) is personable but not surprising — with the exception of the modern-art item.
¶ Prime: Tom Bajarin’s discussion, at PCMag Mobile, of the impact of Vooks on publishing suggests to us that the author of a plain old book could do as well as a Vook developer, delivering a formatted text as an “app,” and collecting 70% of the price. (via The Tomorrow Museum)
¶ Tierce: We’ve heard of the Ithaca Hours, an alternative local currency, but we can’t imagine how anything like it would work in Manhattan. But who cares: it would be gorgeous, if these bills designed by students at the School for Visual Arts were in circulation. (via The Best Part)
¶ Sext: Will Sam Sifton be the next editor of the New York Times? It’s a very interesting rumor, considering that the gent has just been assigned to reviewing restaurants for the newspaper. We’ll say this: he has certainly dusted off the genre.
¶ Vespers: V L Hartmann bumps into Joan Didion in the street — almost — and observes that in her carriage as in her prose, the author of The Year of Magical Thinking is not like “the old ladies you see up here on the East Side that are all stooped over.” (The Morning News)
¶ Matins: Monica Howe writes about a problem that appears to be on the increase: drive-by porn and its variants. You’re sitting in some sort of traffic, minding your own business, when the guy next to you…. (Washington Post; via The Morning News)
¶ Lauds: Yasmina Reza, in town to promote her directorial début, Chicas, with Emmanuelle Seignier — and to catch the first cast’s final performance of God of Carnage — talks to Speakeasy about all of that, and her friendship with Ms Seignier’s husband, Roman Polanski.
¶ Prime: Felix Salmon continues the debt-bias discussion, evaluating two reasons not to tax interest payments, and, not surprisingly, dismissing them even when he agrees with supporting arguments. (That’s what makes this discussion so interesting.)
¶ Vespers: Terry Teachout encounters a stack of his new book(s), Pops, at the Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side. He registers his reaction as closer to Mencken than to Hindemith. (About Last Night)
¶ Compline: Two lawyers from the Genomics Law Report consider the “intriguing question” of how personal DNA data might be handled in the event (an event in Iceland) of a direct-to-consumer’s genomics company’s going bankrupt. (Genetic Future; via Short Sharp Science)
¶ Matins: Matins: Darshak Sanghavi, a pediatric cardiologist and the health-care columnist at Slate, writes lucidly about medical-malpractice litigation. The tort-based system is broken, but it works, sort of. Dr Sanghavi likens it to a casino — terrifying doctors as a class while overcompensating a handful of plaintiffs — but he also attributes significant drops in patient injuries to lessons learned. (via The Morning News)
¶ Lauds: Two public spaces that people will know better from photographs than from visits: The National September 11 Memorial & Museum (when and if) and the White House. The latter, which is indeed a house, requires periodic replacement therapy, in the form of “redecoration,” a word that, Martin Filler tells us, Jacqueline Kennedy didn’t like. (via Felix Salmon and The Morning News)
¶ Sext: Two pieces that were printed side-by-side in the Times, and ought to have appeared in the same fashion online. Food colleagues Kim Severson and Julia Moskin are Jack Sprat and his wife about Thanksgiving. For Ms Severson, it is all about turkey. For Ms Moskin, the turkey is a turkey. The bitchery is quite amiable.
¶ Nones: We’re not quite sure why the offer would help negotiations along, but the UK will return 45 square miles of sovereign territory on Cyprus to — to whom? We can remember when Cyprus was in the news every day. Remember Archbishop Makarios? (BBC News)
¶ Vespers: Dan Hill’s review of Alain de Botton’s Heathrow book, A Week at the Airport, is long and serious but hugely compelling, inspired to be challenging where the book under review leaves off. For example, after quoting the passage about an interview with an airline CEO that stressed the fact that neither the CEO nor Mr de Botton works in a profit-making industry, Mr Hill cocks an eyebrow. (City of Sound; via The Tomorrow Museum)
¶ Compline: David Dobbs argues for replacing the “vulnerability” model of genetic variation with an “orchid” model. The older thinking holds that variants increase their carriers’ vulnerability to disorder. The new idea acknowledges vulnerability but also inverts it, seeing heightened access to special skills. (The Atlantic)
¶ Matins: “Terrifyingly cavalier” — we expect that Elizabeth Kolbert is right to respond to SuperFreakonomics with alarm. Shooting SO2 aerosols into the atmosphere through an eighteen-mile hose does not sound like a promising solution to the problem of global warming. The Two Steves look to be in need of adult supervision! (The New Yorker)
¶ Lauds: In the future, will the great nudes of fine art sport fig leaves and other coverings that, as the spectator desires, may be made to fall away? Does Marcel Duchamp’s rather nasty peepshow, Étant Donnés, cap a Renaissance tradition? Blake Gopnik’s second blush. (Washington Post; via Arts Journal)
¶ Prime: Steve Tobak addresses a home truth: “Don’t Make Your Customers Deal With Your Problems.” He’s talking to business people, of course, but we substitute “readers” for “customers” and go from there. (Corner Office)
¶ Nones: It isn’t very neighborly of Cambodia’s Hun Sen to welcome Thai renegade (and former prime minister) Thaksin Shinawatra into his cabinet, as an economic adviser — and on the eve of a regional summit, at that! Thailand has recalled its ambassador, and its government “has expressed anger and embarrassment over the deal.” (BBC News)
¶ Vespers: Aleksandar Hemon fumes and steams about the posthumous publication of Nabokovian fragments. We can see why: the great writer intended for unfinished works to be destroyed at his death (in 1977). But the intentions were very naive, and possibly insincere: surely Nabokov was capable of destroying them himself after realizing that he would not live to finish his last project. (Slate; via Arts Journal)
¶ Compline: Simon Baron-Cohen argues that the elimination of a distinct Asperger syndrome diagnosis from the next edition of the standard psychiatric handbook (the DSM) — a move under consideration by the editors — would be premature at best. (NYT)
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¶ Lauds: The sale of the Lehman Brothers art collection, although it brought in twice the projected total, demonstrates the wishful thinking behind much art investing. Quite aside from the fact that Lehman was not in the business of purchasing artworks in order to profit from their resale (as indeed it was supposed to be doing with its other investments), the proceeds of the sale are but a drop in the bucket of Lehman’s bankruptcy — $1.35 million as against $250 billion. (Bloomberg; via Arts Journal)
¶ Prime: Steve Tobak doesn’t buy the theory, advanced by The Daily News, that Galleon-Scandal insiders Hector Ruiz and Bob Moffit were lured to their doom by a comely lass called Danielle Chiesi — but that’s only because he doesn’t think that she’s much of a “cheerleader.” (The Corner Office)
¶ Sext: Meanwhile, Choire Sicha takes his lorgnette (or is a loupe?) to a new line from Michael Bastian that Michael Williams probably won’t be covering: Homeless Chic. $525 just for long underwear! (The Awl)
¶ Vespers: A long appreciation of Cheever’s Journals from Geoff Dyer — a writer of very similar lyrical gifts. Mr Dyer persuasively ties Cheever’s craftsmanship as a published writer to his repressed homosexuality, and sees both as prisons. (Guardian; via Critical Mass)
¶ Nones: And you thought Honduras was this boring provincial story. Ha! Bet you didn’t even know the word Chavista! (We didn’t.) As in “Chavista authoritarianism” and Cold War think tanks — in Washington.
¶ Compline: A tale that seems to come out of Dickens or Trollope or perhaps even Cruikshank or Rowlandson: while Simmons Bedding faces bankruptcy, the private equity investors and the former CEO walk away will amply-filled pockets.
¶ Matins: The Economics Department at Notre Dame plans to dissolve its humanist, “heterodox” wing, and focus exclusively on “sophisticated training in quantitative methods in addition to a liberal-arts emphasis.” (via Marginal Revolution)
¶ Vespers: Emily Gould’s report on a panel discussion about the future of fiction is the sort of document that we don’t want to lose sight of: this is how published authors regarded the Internet/marketing/branding in September 2009: still in the old-fashioned way. (via The Rumpus)
¶ Prime: Over the weekend, Times columnist Joe Nocera raised the “what if” question about Lehman, speculating that “it had to die to save Wall Street.” James Surowiecki isn’t so sure — and neither are we.
¶ Vespers: Richard Nash writes about Ted Striphas’s The Late Age of Print. The book, which assesses the history of publishing and bookselling in clearly commercial terms, sounds compelling, but the review is an absolute must. (Grocery stores?)