New Criterion

A magazine that publishes articles, notes and comment on cultural life in America. Publishes contributions from poets, authors, public policy scholars, humanities lecturers, and critics. Includes poetry, arts criticism, and commentary. Departments in thea

Articles from Vol. 24, No. 4, December

A Conversation with Rackstraw Downes
DAVID YEZZI: You came to this country first as a teenager? RACKSTRAW DOWNES: I came here because of jazz, and I went to a prep school in Connecticut. There was a man there who'd freshly graduated from under Josef Albers and was very, very full of...
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A Flesh Look at Van Gogh
It takes effort to come to grips with the paintings of Vincent van Gogh. Seemingly every aspect of his brief career--roughly ten years--and his short life--he killed himself at thirty-six--has been so thoroughly probed, analyzed, documented, and even...
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"Art in Crisis"
[Today] we find a pursuit of illusions of artistic progress, of personal peculiarity, of "the new style," of "unsuspected possibilities," theoretical babble, pretentious fashionable artists, weightlifters with cardboard dumb-bells.... What do we possess...
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At Last
At least since the 1830s, when Alexis de Tocqueville published Democracy in America, observers have understood that there exists a fundamental tension in American society between the passion for freedom and the passion for equality. In recent decades,...
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Criticism after Art
Discussions of art criticism never seem to go very well. Perhaps that's because there is no general agreement on what art criticism really is. For those of us who criticize art for a living, as distinct from those who practice art criticism for the...
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Deaccession Roulette
The word deaccession is one of those bureaucratic coinages whose chief purpose is verbal obfuscation. If a museum director tells you he has "deaccessioned" eighteen Cezannes, you think for a second, "Oh, that's nice" while you wonder exactly how to...
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Exhibition Note
"Right under the Sun: Landscape in Provence, from Classicism to Modernism (1750-1920)" Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. September 22, 2005-January 8, 2006 This show at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has an irresistible subject. At the very name of...
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Fire to the Rescue
What is the biggest swindle in the educational establishment today? A tough question, that: the contenders for the prize are many. But there is a lot to be said--by which we mean "said against"--the whole teacher-training and teacher-certification...
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In Defense of Cover-Ups
"It's not the crime, it's the cover-up." That may turn out to be the most overused media cliche of the year. Like so many other morsels of media wit and wisdom it is clever, memorable, worldly-wise and wrong--at best a half-truth. Of course you can...
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Kathmandu-Sur-Rhone
Here in la France profonde, the riots seem a long way off and scarcely credible. It is not that life here is perfect, far from it, and we have our own problems, albeit of a different order. M. Roux, who came with his mechanical digger to construct...
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Monet in Zola & Proust
While reading and writing about the Impressionists, I realized that the life and personality of Claude Monet, the most popular artist of all time, remain largely unknown. He seems to have vanished into his pictures. Yet he lives on in two great novels:...
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The Angelic Friar at the Met
In 1896, a Scottish insurance magnate named Evan MacKenzie set himself to erecting a massive "medieval" castle on a glorious site overlooking the Mediterranean, hard by the outskirts of Genoa. For this extravagant client, a gifted young Florentine...
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The Fiasco at Ground Zero
The last century offers countless examples of how one might treat a great monument destroyed by war. One might repair and rebuild it (as was done with the Benedictine abbey of Monte Cassino), preserve it as a ruin (Coventry Cathedral), or even replace...
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The Many Faces of Memling
The known facts of Hans Memling's (C. 1435-1494) life are few. He was likely born in Seligenstadt, Gcrmany, and almost certainly spent time in Rogier van der Weyden's workshop in Brussels before moving to Bruges, perhaps early in 14-65. As far as we...
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The Real Rodin
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), a sculptor I have long admired, can be a difficult artist to come to grips with. His major monument, the Gates of Hell, remained unfinished at his death. With some artists, "unfinished" is not an issue. Cezanne's Garden at...
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The Schiele Moment
"Egon Schiele: The Ronald S. Lauder and Serge Sabarsky Collections" an exhibition on view at the Neue Galerie, will be one of the most popular events of the 2005-2006 art season. (1) Visitors to the newest addition to the Upper East Side's Museum Mile--the...
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