More DuSable pics below the fold Continue Reading…
I love carrying a camera around Chicago for those random moments worth capturing. I rarely do video. But my Lumix FZ300 does a pretty nice job. And Chicago street musicians can sometimes really rock it. If anyone knows this band, please note it in the comments. And yeah, I dropped some bucks into their bin.
Oscar Brown, Jr. is a jazz legend; Sin and Soul will live forever (I’m humming “Signifyin’ Monkey”, from an anonymous African fabulist, as I write). Not just an influential musician but a social critic and engaged citizen; Nat Hentoff described him as “authentically hip”.
His song, “The Snake” covers an Aesop legend, the farmer who takes a near-frozen snake indoors and is rewarded by being bitten; reproached, the viper says “you knew I was a snake before you took me in”. The only possible interpretion of this allegory today is that Donald Trump revealed his true nature in the campaign and before, and yet we “took him in”. But he read the words aloud today himself, smirking as usual, at a rally! It’s not only despicable that Trump would dare to besmirch Brown’s memory by associating himself with it, but completely mystifying that he would present himself as that snake so transparently at a large public event.
Maybe this is for the best: Brown’s reputation will survive, along with his music, and now we have a new, perfectly tailored moniker for the Donald provided by Donald Jeenius Trump, the only man alive stupid enough to walk into such a trap.
“Snake Trump”: I like it!
[update 23/II: A colleague let me know that Ezra Klein was on this months ago]
One of the more disgusting aspects of contemporary political and media culture is the practice of forming on-line hit squads to go after innocent victims when they dare to complain in ways that discomfit right-wing politicians or discredit right-wing causes.
The latest example is the concerted attacks on the student survivors of the Parkland massacre who are organizing – with admirable skill and self-restraint – to demand more effective gun control laws. I’m on record as a skeptic about how much good politically practicable gun control can actually do under U.S. conditions, but there’s no doubt that making it harder for juveniles to access AR-15s and similar weapons could help moderate the carnage in schools. (That’s a small part of the total gun-violence problem, but still worth addressing.)
In any case, it does my heart good to see these young folks stepping in to the public arena with so much energy and such a sharp eye for political efficacy. You don’t have to entirely agree with them to unreservedly admire them. If it had been my friends who were killed, and if I’d spent hours hiding in a closet wondering whether I would survive, I doubt that I could master their self-possession.
Art museums keep almost all their art in storage and out of view, and then pretend they don’t have it, while charging an arm and a leg to get in to see what they actually show. Tim Schneider, whose weekly column on the business of art in ArtNet is worth following, joins the deaccession debate that has now linked two current controversies: the Metropolitan Museum’s decision to demand out-of-town visitors to pay the full $25 to get in, and the Berkshire Museum’s plan to sell most of its collection to start on a substantially changed mission.
Schneider reports a commonly quoted 10% of major museum collections as being on view, but it’s worse than that: a decade ago at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts it was about 5%,Â and at the Met more like 1%.Â To be fair, these are object counts, and the artistic (and money) value of what is shown is a much higher fraction of the total, but there is still a Golconda of treasure that isn’t on view and will never be. An important enabler of the rampant misallocation of so much of the world’s plastic arts patrimony into storage vaults is museum accounting rules that permits them to leave the entire collection off the balance sheet, effectively pretending it just isn’t there and in particular, isn’t available to fund programs (and physical expansion) that could put more art in front of more eyes; Schneider admirably concludes “letâ€™s at least seriously considerÂ [emphasis added] how billions of dollars in stored art might be able to help solve some of the crises afflicting art museums around the world.” Indeed.
The top guy at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, than which there is no whicher in the museum world, has come out for managing museums’Â multi-billion-dollar art collections as productive assets.Â He wants more engagement, in more places, than their current practice of having almost all the art (i) in storage (ii) in the museum the works were first given to.
…one should de-accession rigorously in order to either acquire more important works of artÂ or build endowments to support programming [emphasis added]….It doesn’t benefit anyone when there are millions of works of art that are languishing in storage….we would be far better off, in my opinion, allowing others to have those works of art that might enjoy them, but even more importantly, converting that [wealth] to…support public programs, exhibitions, publications.
I argued a couple of years ago that art museum managers had nailed their feet to the floor by a code of “ethics” that forbade selling for anything except buying more art, and an inexplicable practice of not telling us what their collections are worth while they beg for donations. Lowry is moving in the right direction and will make real waves among his peers.
I have never before heard an adult call him- or herself a genius. Never, and especially including the people I’ve been lucky enough to know who arguably really are.
Except ironically, say after driving through a closed garage door.
We have surely entered a new and very strange world.
On principle, I do not believe in defacing public art or private property. Even when the property at stake is an ugly statue of white supremacist Bedford Forest. But if one were to do so–at least show some imagination.
The best I can do this Christmas is to repost this effort of mine from six years ago. The theme of moral perspective is even more necessary today. As Dickens’ great fable reminds us, there are Christmases past and future as well as present, some for the worse, many for the better. Hold on.
For Kenneth Clark, it was Â¨the greatest small painting in the worldÂ¨. It’s certainly a masterpiece – and a puzzle. Why did the Umbrian master Piero della Francesca choose around 1450 to paint an overworked stock subject, the Flagellation of Christ, in this extraordinary way?
(Warning: large page below the jump) Continue Reading…
Last Friday, a woman sang in the Sistine Chapel. Not just any woman of course, but a star operatic mezzo-soprano, Cecilia Bartoli.
This falls a long way short of the message of Michelangelo’s powerful Sybils on the ceiling, or my suggestion that Pope Francis appoint some women cardinals. Canon Law (which has required them to be priests only since 1917) would have to be changed to allow this; but heâ€™s an absolute monarch and can legislate what he likes. Call them coadjutors or cardinal deacons or something. Still, Ms. Bartoli is progress, and as Michelangelo knew, cultural symbols matter.
The favour went both ways. By report, the Sistine Chapel choir sank to an embarrassment in the 20th century, and were labeled the â€œSistine screamersâ€. Ten years ago, a leading professional like Ms Bartoli would not have wanted to sing with such a poor group. The revival is not due to Francis but to his predecessor Benedict (Josef Ratzinger), a reactionary but with German standards. In 2010 he appointed a good choirmaster, Monsignor Massimo Palombella, a Salesian priest; and, more important, widened the pool of eligibility by a factor of 10,000 from Italian priests (n â‰ˆ 45,000) to male Catholics from any country, boys and adults, married or not (n â‰ˆ 600,000,000). The invitation to Ms Bartoli is surely Francisâ€™ work.
The profits go to the Popeâ€™s personal charity. This looks to be a small scale operation, largely among the street people of Rome. You get the cutting-edge accountability of regulations adopted in 1409 by Alexander V. Alexander was a Pisan antipope, whose main contribution to the end of the Western Schism was dying conveniently soon, thus reducing the problem of multiple popes by a third. Relying on his paperwork is, in American terms, roughly equivalent to having the statutes of your college signed off by Jefferson Davis.
Still, if you are going to contribute to anybodyâ€™s slush fund, Pope Francis and his almoner Konrad Krajewski are a reasonable bet.
Cecilia Bartoli singing Mozartâ€™s Laudate Dominum in Dresden in 2001.