Art & Money

Half a Cloak

Artist unknown. St. Martin and the Beggar. Hungarian Today is Veterans Day. It is also the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, patron of soldiers. Martin is my patron saint as well. Back in second grade, when we were asked to pick a saint’s name for Confirmation, I chose Martin. There followed a brief flurry of canonical concern. Was it suitable for a girl to take a male saint’s name? Could she do it? Should she? I was not trying to create a nuisance. Continue Reading
Garden Court

Decadence was brought about by the easy way of producing works and laziness in doing it, by the surfeit of fine art and the love of the bizarre. —Voltaire, The Princess of Babylon (1748)
  Voltaire’s linkage of decadence to an overabundance of fine art earns consideration, perhaps now more than ever. Art stuffs pile up around us; and we live, increasingly, with an overemphasis on—even reverence for—aesthetics that is less a sign of refinement than a malaise. It is an unhealthy condition, all the more precarious for exalting aesthetics, a strutting Enlightenment product, up, up into the embrace of theology. Continue Reading
Museum Theology

Glancing quickly, I misinterpreted the opening lines of a recent bulletin from Sandro Magister’s Chiesa . My eye fell on a reference to the Venice Biennale and, at the same time, on a thumbnail image of a contemporary chapel. At once devotional and festive, it looked to be a lovely ensemble. My immediate impression was that the Vatican pavilion would contain a model chapel, a beautifully designed invitation to prayer—a challenge—addressed to the international art crowd. I was ready to recant all my misgivings about Cardinal Ravasi’s foray into the belly of the casino: I take it all back! Continue Reading
Naked Bike Ride

Have you been following the annual World Naked Bike Ride? A moveable feast, it has been going for some years now in various cities around the fossil-fuel-consuming world. Morally sensitive bikers bare all in protest against Big Oil, the global injustices of energy dependence, the horrors of drilling, demon auto, bad driving and everything else that ravages our planet. At the same time, it strikes a blow for “body freedom” against the repressive forces of Big Clothing. Its motto: “Less gas, more ass.” Portland’s edition of the Naked Bike Ride, now in its tenth year, is one of the largest in the world, and typically draws between 4,000-5,000 bicyclists in birthday suits. Continue Reading
Birth of Liberace

BBC News Magazine’ s Jon Kelly discusses Behind the Candelabra , a current movie about Liberace’s six year affair with a much younger man. Throughout his life , the entertainer strained to maintain the fiction that he was heterosexual:
Most famously, he sued the Daily Mirror over an innuendo-laden article by William Connor, who wrote under the pen-name Cassandra, which described the musician as “the pinnacle of masculine, feminine, and neuter . . . a deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love”.
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