Lamentation

The Lord has delivered me into the grip of those I cannot resist. (Lamentations 1) Readers have written to ask why Studio Matters had gone quiet. There was the September essay in The Federalist on art work about 9/11 by eighth graders in 2011. After that, only radio silence. There was—still is— much in need of saying. I am simply not the one to say it. The catastrophic cruelty and ignorance—assuming it was ignorance rather than demented malice—of the manner in which the Biden regime fled Afghanistan are beyond my capacities for coherence. Continue Reading
Lysol ad

Do you suppose the Vatican does a risk assessment analysis before publishing an encyclical? Can you think of a time the Holy See indemnified itself against potentially harmful, if unforeseeable, consequences of papal geopolitics? Do you remember ever having read a collection of theological essays that was followed by a legal disclaimer? Some formal language that warns you against relying on the contents? Or distances itself from any truth claims therein? Me neither. That is what is so telling about the full-page product warning—what else to call it?—that Continue Reading
Ad for stem cell marketing

At the outset, let me add a brief preface. Part 1 of this look at the Vatican series of conferences on cell research and the biotech industry began on this weblog last month. I had promised a Part 2. Much of that promise appeared in The Federalist, July 15th, under the title “Inside The Vatican’s Surprising Alliance With Biotech Venture Capital.” For clarity’s sake—and to avoid repetition here—it makes sense to read The Federalist piece first. Part 2 introduced the mystic marriage of Cardinal Ravasi and the entrepreneurial Robin L. Continue Reading
Satirical lithograph by Daumier

False piety wears different hats. The sentimental kind gets my back up whenever I meet it. It is a species of attitudinizing, closer to showboating than to holiness. To illustrate, let me tell you about recent exposure to a case of it. The setting was Sunday Mass in a local parish church a few weeks back. Everyone was still masking up and doing the six steps of our new dance craze: social distancing. Alternate pews were cordoned off. To compensate for reduced seating, the church folded back the doors of a large community room that opens onto the transept, stage right. Continue Reading
Painting, An Impromptu Respite

Painting is meant to be seen, not talked about. Painters are drawn to things, not concepts or doctrines. What counts is what is front of them, the very thing itself—whether an object or a vista—not an idea about the thing. For a painter, the only ideas that count are pictorial ones. Matters of fact are primary. These include the material facts of paint, the cookery of getting it right, manipulation of brushes and color chords—all physical, earth-bound matters. Fairfield Porter was blunt: “An art that finds ideas more real than things is attractive to the unemployed intellectual.” Continue Reading