Category: Culture

The Stendhal Syndrome

I am familiar with the great French author Stendhal’s novels–The Red and the Black, and The Charterhouse of Parma–having read them some years ago, but until I read an article in the online magazine The Point I’d never hear about Stendhal Syndrome. The Stendhal syndrome is a psychic disorder that causes dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when someone is exposed…

How Art Became Irrelevant

Michael J. Lewis‘ long piece in Commentary titled, How Art Became Irrelevant, is a tour de force of cultural analysis.    In his well-written and long article (did I mention it is long?), Lewis’ breadth of knowledge provides a wealth of thoughtful observations and quotable passages. To buttress his main thesis, which I think is reasonably embodied in the…

Artless by Michael Lind

In his article in The Smart Set, Michael Lind writes about how Millennials are disinterested in the fine arts: “…Trends in American painting ever since the plate paintings of Julian Schnabel are not a big subject of debate among Millenials. As far as I can tell, very few college-educated people under the age of 50…

What has happened to art criticism?

In his Spiked article, What has happened to art criticism?,  J.J. Charlesworth investigates the decline of art criticism over the past 30 or so odd years.  He misses professional, culturally alert, independent, and historically informed criticism. Criticism has been replaced by what he calls ‘art writing.’  Art writing is that amorphous, subjective, non-judgmental  style one sees everywhere in the art…

‘Works of art may be offensive”

I read this laugh-out-loud piece in the NY Times. The blog post by Jeffrey Kindley is directed toward the college-age population of delicate hothouse plants who require trigger warnings on art and other cultural artifacts.  Columbia university students who found Ovid’s Metamorphosis ‘offensive and triggering’ provide a recent example. Surrounded by Disturbing Art I was triggered…


The new Whitney.

The Whitney Museum recently opened its new digs in Chelsea. My first (tiny) apartment in New York was in Chelsea (20th & 8th), of course, that was before Chelsea became an art center. I plan to pay my first visit this summer.

I read a slashing review, A Monument to Tastelessnessby THEODORE DALRYMPLE in the City Journal. Dalrymple is a doctor and an author. I enjoyed his book about Africa, Zanzibar to Timbuktu. The review, subtitled The new Whitney Museum looks like a torture chamber, is scathing. He also excoriates Michael Kimmelman’s piece in the NY Times, A New Whitney, saying, “I have seldom read a piece of criticism in which the fundamental question was avoided in so pusillanimous a fashion.”

As I have yet to visit the museum, I’ll withhold comment. Dalrymple is an incisive thinker. His experience as a doctor to the poorer classes in Africa and Europe infuse his writing with an interesting perspective, although his liberalism is old fashioned by today’s standards, That’s fine by me because so is mine.

Here is a different review–a typical art world fawning-type review–of the new museum.


Movie review: Nightcrawler

For an artist, Nightcrawler is a fascinating movie. Nightcrawler, released in 2014 and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, is about a bottom feeder, Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal), who discovers the world of crime scene photo-journalism. Bloom, armed with an internet account and google, is an autodidact who envisions himself an entrepreneur. As the movie opens, Bloom uses his…


David Hockney at 77 is still in the game.

In a long, sympathetic article in The Guardian,  Hockney maintains that he is and has always been a workaholic. I have no idea if that’s true, of course, but it seems unlikely. Although I like some of his paintings, his work seems really uneven and strikes me as exhausted. I do like his Rousseau-like landscapes. I also enjoyed his book, Secret Knowledge, and never understood the hoopla surrounding it.