New York

In Praise of Jean-Émile Laboureur
February 29, 2012

I have some artistic enthusiasms that I’m not eager to discuss in public. It’s not that I’m embarrassed. But I am afraid I will not be able to explain them, much less justify them, even to my best friends. I put in this category my attachment to the engravings of Jean-Émile Laboureur, who recorded the parks, streets, shop windows, pleasure seekers, working people, and lovers of 1920s and 1930s France in an immaculate Art Deco style. I know that Laboureur’s work, with its easy-on-the-eyes Cubistic stylizations and languid Roaring Twenties protagonists, can be more than a little programmatic.

Has Obama Convinced Americans About the Importance of Community?
February 25, 2012

While neither political party has a monopoly on “community,” in recent years Democrats have been more inclined than Republicans to invoke it—none more conspicuously than Barack Obama. In the peroration of the 2012 State of the Union address, he declared that “No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team.” A month earlier, in the city where Theodore Roosevelt delivered his landmark “New Nationalism” speech, Obama argued that “Our success has never just been about the survival of the fittest.

The Pernicious Talk of Decline In the Arts
February 15, 2012

Is it possible to report honestly on troubling developments in the arts without becoming a prophet of doom? I’ve found myself wondering about this in the past week or so, as I prepared to say a few words on a panel with the title: “The Decline of the Arts?” Having published more than my fair share of takedowns of various artists and art world institutions, I was in no doubt as to why I’d been invited to participate. And yet I felt more than a little uncomfortable about being associated with the word decline.

Nevada Gets a Plan for a Better Economy
February 09, 2012

Washington is paralyzed by politics and debt, but states and regions are moving to renew the drifting U.S. economy themselves.

Thus Spake Still
February 08, 2012

Clyfford Still Museum Denver, Colorado I have never been strongly attracted to the feverish visionary heights that can be reached by a prophetic voice. Of course I feel the power of the Book of Lamentations, and Michelangelo’s Last Judgment, and Wagner’s Ring, and Blake’s apocalyptic extravaganzas. But there are other registers that touch me more deeply, or at least more directly. I think a convincing argument can be made that the prophetic mode does not come naturally to the visual artist, surely not to the visual artist in the modern world.

I Love The Smell Of Croissants In The Morning
February 07, 2012

The liberal media conspiracy must have had a secret meeting on the cafe car of the Acela sometime in the past week or so, because there’s been a sudden flurry of pieces revisiting the matter of Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith and urging him, in one form or another, to be more open about it.

Why Mitt Romney Needs To Talk Openly About His Mormon Faith
February 06, 2012

In the current presidential election campaign, many, if not most, Americans are expecting that Mitt Romney’s quest for the White House will be buffeted by questions about his religion. How to handle Romney’s Mormonism has proved especially vexing, both for the candidate and for the electorate. It’s worth considering exactly why that’s the case. The essential question, from the perspective of many voters, concerns the very nature of Mormonism, an upstart religion born in western New York in 1830 and persecuted for much of the nineteenth century. After Joseph Smith Jr.

Another Nail In the Coffin For Good Taste
February 04, 2012

By codified reputation and tradition, if not always by practice, a few famous venues of musical presentation in New York have long represented achievement in their areas: in classical music, Carnegie Hall, of course; in jazz, the Village Vanguard; and in punk, C.B.G.B. (There are comparable institutions in hip hop and other musics.) C.B.G.B. closed four years ago and is now a clothing boutique, and its counterpart in the field of cabaret, the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel, folded this Thursday.

Romney Took Florida, But the Real Prize Was Sheldon Adelson
January 31, 2012

In that moment just before New Hampshire, when it was briefly possible to imagine Jon Huntsman fighting deep into the primaries, New York magazine’s John Heilemann made an astute observation. He pointed out that Huntsman’s real audience on election night wouldn’t be the country or the voters in other early states or even the political media. It would consist of exactly one person: Jon Huntsman Sr., the billionaire chemical magnate who, if the mood struck him, could take out his checkbook and completely upend the race. “An investment of, say, $10 million — a rounding error on the Huntsman Sr.

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