August 27, 2007
Within fourteen days of each other, two rush-hour calamities: a bridge collapse and a steam-pipe explosion. In Minneapolis, a forty-year-old bridge along highway I-35W suddenly dropped sixty feet into the Mississippi River, killing at least five people and injuring approximately one hundred more. The federal government had deemed the bridge structurally deficient in 1990, which the Minnesota Department of Transportation acknowledged in separate reports issued in 2005, 2006, and 2007, after inspecting the bridge.
Islam At The Met
June 08, 2007
I happened in on the Met's exhibit, "Venice and the Islamic World, 828-1797." Stunning, subtle, mostly new to me, this view of the Muslim orbit as it was experienced in and by 1000 years of Venice is simply astonishing. The impact of it is at once grand and yet based in meticulous detail. I know little enough about Venice and less about Islamic art. But, as an undergraduate, I took a course about the Italian renaissance so the Venetian sensibility in the arts was familiar. There hangs over my desk a Jacobo Bellini drawing of Jesus.
The Pen and the Baton
October 09, 2006
Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera By Philip Gossett
September 11, 2006
Surry Hill. So reads a plaque at the end of the long, winding private road that leads to the crown jewel of McLean, Virginia: the 18,000-square-foot mansion that Republican lobbyist Ed Rogers and his wife Edwina call home. To get there from Washington, you drive across the Potomac River and along a parkway that, in the summer, is canopied by lush green trees. Shortly before the guarded entrance to the CIA, you turn off McLean's main road and then down a private lane, passing through brick gate posts adorned with black lanterns and into a grand cul-de-sac. A massive brick Colonial with majestic
April 11, 2005
The decorative arts have always been art history's attractive orphans. While many people have a great affection for certain textiles or ceramics, the scholarly world embraces such objects only fitfully, as if they were really somebody else's responsibility. And much of the attention that is given to the decorative arts—in the shelter magazines, in the auction catalogues, and in specialized studies of rococo hardware or medieval ceramic tiles—has an edge about it, a feverishness that can suggest overcompensation and even overkill.
On the Lifespan of Trees
December 03, 2004
For a long time now, whenever I've gone to Los Angeles, I've been alarmed by how impossibly tall the palm trees have grown. Whether I'm driving in Santa Monica or Venice, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, or Pasadena, the familiar sight of row after row of palm trees, their thin, fibrous trunks topped by rough-hewn, yet shimmering fronds stretching hundreds of feet into the broad, shadowless light, has come to fill me with gloom.
A Dilemma of Old
March 03, 2003
Reviewing About Schmidt in January, I mentioned that I had not read the Louis Begley novel from which the screenplay was tenuously derived. Several people have written to say that, though they liked the film and they had read Begley's approval of it, I ought to read the book. I'm thinking it over. The correspondents' friendly suggestion is, of course, a return to the perennial question of adaptation, the degree of responsibility of a later work to its source. Every such discussion is a matter of instances, not of precepts. Who cares if an unimportant novel is altered for screen use?
Jed Perl on Art: South by Southwest
September 24, 2001
Donald Judd had his share of staunch supporters. But you are likely to meet with skeptical responses if you announce that you are captivated by his magnum opus, a composition consisting of one hundred aluminum boxes that is the linchpin of the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas. Chinati is where the sculptor made a permanent home for the frequently large-scale work that interested him and some of the contemporary artists whom he admired. It has an eccentric, off-the-beaten-track kind of grandeur that rubs some people the wrong way. The austere forms that Judd (who died in 1994) arranged in and
Signs of the Times
July 30, 2001
John Ruskin: The Later Years by Tim Hilton (Yale University Press, 656 pp., $35) In the second volume of John Ruskin's three-volume study The Stones of Venice, which appeared in 1853, there is a chapter titled "The Nature of Gothic." It opens conventionally enough, with Ruskin promising to describe the "characteristic or moral elements" of the Gothic; but readers who were familiar with Ruskin's earlier works, Modern Painters and The Seven Lamps of Architecture, and who had been dazzled by his word-pictures of works of art and scenes of nature, could not possibly have expected a straightforwar
Like Race, Like Gender?
February 19, 1996
As the Supreme Court ponders whether the Virginia Military Institute and the Citadel can continue to exclude women, the legal battles have become a time-lapse photograph of the generational war among feminists. In the current issue of Dissent, Catharine Stimpson argues that "Shannon Faulkner ...