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. 23, No. 10, June

Faculty Follies: A Selection
It's been a great year for academic absurdity--understanding the word "great" in the quantitative, not the qualitative, sense, i.e., "big," or "extensive," not "excellent." Where to start? With Larry Summers, science, and women at Harvard? With the...
Gallery Chronicle
Accomplished abstraction has become the heirloom varietal of painting, a pre-Phylloxera strain that springs forth for a few odd weeks in a tucked-away grove here or there frequented by hermits and the lonely few. So it was that last month's gallery...
Gounod's Faust at the Metropolitan Opera, New York
The Metropolitan Opera has had a long relationship with Gounod's once popular opera Faust, beginning with its first night in 1883 and coming up so often thereafter that the house was dubbed the Faustspielhaus. The Met has had far less success with...
"Jacques-Louis David: Empire to Exile" the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. February 1-April 24, 2005
Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute Williamstown, Massachusetts. June 5-September 5, 2005 About the last thing one should wish on anyone is "curator of an exhibition on Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825)." But this is the fate that has befallen...
"John Szarkowski: Photographs" at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. February-May 15, 2005
Attack, heightened nerves, a quivering alertness to patterns of relatedness, a tasteless (or taste-free) acquisitiveness ... these are what I like and value most in modern American photography. Image-makers like Walker Evans and Edward Weston were...
Leszek Kolakowski & the Anatomy of Totalitarianism
It's possible that I shall make an ass of myself. But in that case one can always get out of it with a little dialectic. I have, of course, so worded my proposition as to be right either way. --Marx to Engels, 1857 What socialism implies above all...
Martha Contra Mundum
In the 1954 movic White Christmas, an Irving Berlin no-people-like-show-people musical that should be a cult classic but is more often labeled kitsch (it's that Santa Claus finale complete with pre-teens in tutus doing bourrees under the tree), there's...
"Max Ernst: A Retrospective" the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. April 7-July 10, 2005
As a maker and manipulator of images, Max Ernst was in a very high class. He did not deal simply in surprises, but in surprises that would never fail in their effect. At the time of his death in 1976, he had French nationality. But he was throughout...
New Grub Street
Everyone now knows about Newsweek's preposterous Koran-down-the-toilet story. That little escapade, based upon the Great Source Anonymous, ignited a tinder box in Afghanistan and, at last count, had claimed seventeen lives. Honest mistake? Well, remember...
Some Words of Thanks
With this issue, The New Criterion completes its twenty-third volume. That's more than 200 issues of the liveliest, best-written, and most informative cultural criticism you will find anywhere. In our first issue we promised a "dissenting critical...
The Fabric of Dreams
In The Unknown Matisse, the first volume of her excellent two-part biography, Hilary Spurting reminds us that this master of radiant hues and dazzling evocations of light spent the first twenty-one years of his life in gritty, industrial north-eastern...
The Journalism of Warfare
In December 1996, Robert Fisk of the London newspaper The Independent traveled to the mountains north of Khartoum where he met Osama bin Laden. The opening sentences of the article he wrote about the meeting went as follows: Osama Bin Laden sat...
What "Objectivity"?
Outside the Capital Hilton on 16th Street in Washington one evening in May, you might have seen a demonstrator dressed like an old-fashioned carnival barker in a colorful vest and a straw boater. Around his neck he had hung a sign reading "DeLay is...