Overlooked in the flurry of objections to this year’s Vatican crèche is what the installation indicates about the personal—not to say profane—ambition of our current pope. Jorge Bergoglio is in a posthumous contest with Karol Wojtyla for a papal legacy.
On October 16, 2002, John Paul II left his mark on the rosary, adding five more decades—the Luminous Mysteries—to a beloved devotion untouched for eight hundred years. Now comes Francis I to stamp his identity on the eight hundred year old crèche, rebranding it as a marketing tool for his trademark promotion of limitless migration and open borders. Continue Reading
The holiday has been put away. The wreath is turning brown. Town Christmas tree pick-up began last week. It is time to head to the Met to buy next year’s cards at half-price in the museum store.
The general run of contemporary Christmas mailings ranks low on any measure of cultural exchange. It is not nostalgia that sends me hunting for cards with older images. It is the clear, transparent fact that the graphics of a previous generation addressed themselves to the eye—and the spirit—with an intelligence that is fast disappearing from our sensibilities. Continue Reading
At the end of each presidency the Smithsonian commissions an official portrait of the outgoing royals for the National Portrait Gallery. Museum curators advise, suggesting names to suit the sensibility and self-image of the couple. Barack and Michelle Obama have each selected their individual immortalizers. Kehinde Wiley will collaborate with the former president on his own iconography. Amy Sherald will work with the former first lady on hers.
Final commentary awaits delivery of the finished products. Meantime, there are things to be learned by looking at the signature styles that brought Mr. Continue Reading