Category: visual arts

Book # 23 in 2018: “Mad Enchantment” by Ross King

Posted June 25th, 2018
Mad Enchantment

Every time I pick up a Ross King book, it’s longer and weightier. Brunelleschi’s Dome was a little bit of a thing, perfect for reading on a transcontinental flight. Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling was longer but then the Sistine Chapel ceiling is a better documented creation. The Judgment of Paris was longer still and…

Hyggelig 2: Bulls and Dragons

Posted May 9th, 2018
Hyggelig 2: Bulls and Dragons

My Dear One pointed it out to me on our first stroll: “Mr. Softee.” The spire of the of Børsen, the Old Stock Exchange, with its quartet of dragons, tails entwined, does indeed look at first glance like an attenuated tower of soft-serve ice cream. Above the dragons, three orbs symbolize the nations of Denmark,…

Book # 13 in 2018: “Meetings With Remarkable Manuscripts” by Christopher de Hamel

Posted April 13th, 2018
Book # 13 in 2018: “Meetings With Remarkable Manuscripts” by Christopher de Hamel

At the time I was about halfway through this wonderful book, my Dear One and I were watching an episode of Homeland, a political thriller starring Mandy Patinkin and Clare Danes. I’ll admit it—it’s the seventh season and we’re into it. At that particular moment (the Russians are the current bad guys which seems very…

Book #9 in 2018: “You Must Change Your Life” by Rachel Corbett

Posted March 3rd, 2018
Book #9 in 2018: “You Must Change Your Life” by Rachel Corbett

It’s been a big year for the sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) in museums. Sadly, I missed Séraphin Soudbinine: From Rodin’s Assistant to Ceramic Artist and Klimt & Rodin: An Artistic Encounter, both of which were at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. Kiefer – Rodin closes at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia in a…

Portraits of a Presidency

Posted February 15th, 2018
Portraits of a Presidency

On February 12, 2018, the portraits of the 44th President and First Lady of the United States were unveiled. How do I like them? Let me, as it were, count the ways. The paintings are modern. The artists who made them (Kehinde Wiley, b. 1977, and Amy Sherald, b. 1973) are young-ish. Both are figurative…

Book # 4 in 2018: “Leonardo da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson

Posted January 17th, 2018
Book # 4 in 2018: “Leonardo da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson

My brother the Boston Lawyer mentioned a couple months ago that he was reading Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, 2017). I thought that was an interesting choice for him, a little off-road considering his normal preferences.  When My Dear One gave me a copy for Christmas, I emailed a question: “Why…

Based in Batignolles 2: One Thing After Another

Posted May 10th, 2017
Based in Batignolles 2: One Thing After Another

Gounod’s Faust was the first opera I ever saw, and I saw it at Palais Charles Garnier in Paris in March 1970. As we ascended the massive stair forty-eight years later, studied Marc Chagall’s rainbow of a ceiling and gazed out over the loggia outside the ornate Grand Foyer, it all came back. I was…

I-35: Minneapolis

Posted October 12th, 2016
I-35: Minneapolis

The Mall of America is… just…horrible. My Dear One suggested we visit. We weren’t in the mood to shop but we were curious about this place that is a destination for visitors from around the world. Parking was well-nigh impossible. There were lots outside and multilevel structures under cover. Having no idea as to how…

I-35: Mason City

Posted October 12th, 2016
I-35: Mason City

There is sculpture everywhere. Sofas, side tables and chairs in the park, children playing, bears looking confused, a marching band worth of horns, welded dinosaurs, silvery dancers, and even Frank Lloyd Wright looking approvingly at his hotel and bank downtown. Realism, abstraction, high art and humor. Who knew. And who knew that Mason City, a…

I-35: Des Moines

Posted October 12th, 2016
I-35: Des Moines

There were dropped jaws and more polite phrasings like, “What has persuaded you to make this move?” when I told people that I was moving to Iowa, in 1985 for a job as curator of education at the Des Moines Art Center. “Big careers are made in smaller museums,” I often answered. But the truth…