June 2014

Daniel Mauch. Two Popes, a Bishop, a Canon, and 7 Monks in Prayer (c.1505). Louvre, Paris.

We are too accustomed to prefacing the word scandal with the modifier sex. We lose sight of scandal’s insidious range. What we  witness in Sunday’s carnival of prayer at the Vatican is scandal of a different stripe: the abuse of prayer. Israeli President Peres, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas (nom de guerre Abu Mazen) will meet in the Vatican garden. Imams will read selectively from the Quran, rabbis will read from the Tanakh. Christians will flourish the New Testament. All will conspire to ignore the elephant in the topiary: Islam—and Islam alone—contains a theological imperative to violence. Continue Reading
Domino Sugar Refinery

Anyone thinking of taking the L or G train to the fated Domino Sugar Refinery to see Kara Walker’s installation should keep in mind literary critic Hugh Kenner’s words about conceptual art. In his definition, it is art that only needs to be described. It does not need to be experienced. Destined to melt in a heat wave, Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety” was not meant as a permanent work of art. It is a temporary conceptual project fashioned from software that permits artists to replicate their creations in real space and in almost any scale desired. Continue Reading
Kara Walker. “A Subtlety” (2014).

How many beholders does it take to declare something objectively beautiful? Or not? Kara Walker. “A Subtlety” (2014). That is a stumper. The riddle becomes easier to solve if you lower the register and ask how many are needed to declare a thing significant. The answer comes immediately: Not many, just so long as they are equipped to finance the project and generate tactical promotion. In short, those with the assets and affiliations to create both an image and the yardstick by which it is measured. Continue Reading