Philippe de Montebello

Thus Spake Still

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.

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Artists and Towers

In the 1970s I knew a young artist who painted cityscapes and talked about creating a series of New York City views in which the towers of the World Trade Center, then only a year or so old, would appear in every composition. My friend’s idea, which he discussed in a playful and speculative spirit, was to develop a modern urban counterpart to Hokusai’s One Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji. Sometimes the towers would be the focal point; sometimes they would be seen from a curious and unexpected vantage point; sometimes they would be no more than a speck in the distance.

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The Ungreat Washed

The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad By Fareed Zakaria (W.W. Norton, 286 pp., $24.95) I. Midway through Fareed Zakaria’s attack on democracy, one realizes that his animus toward popular government is not only theoretical but also personal, and in some ways it is even quite understandable.

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