Time Out for the Ugly

I promised to get back on the subject of beauty. And I will keep the promise, but not today. This is just a demi-post to get us through the weekend. Herewith, a contrarian thought to consider from France’s wildly popular pop singer Serge Gainsbourg: “Ugliness is superior to beauty because it last longer.” We cannot talk about beauty unless we have an appreciation—if that is the word—for ugliness. And what, precisely, is it? Is the ugly no more than an absence of beauty? Continue Reading
The Hazard of Beauty

Talk of beauty is in the air these days. It has been absent as a reigning value in contemporary art long enough to be provoking interest once again. It is a bit of a jumble though. Everyone wants in on the beauty of the philosophers while reserving for themselves the ascendency of their own taste and perceptions. The knot knocks even the best of us off course with little guide beyond the packaged insights of art appreciation. No less formidable a cultural critic than Roger Scruton is unsafe from the tools of the appreciator’s trade. Continue Reading
Bye-Bye, Picture Books?

WILL YOUR FIRSTBORN RUIN HER CHANCES of getting into Yale if she cuts her baby teeth on picture books? What good are the plastic letters on her teething ring if you let her linger with picture books? Shouldn’t she be weaned onto prose—long and winding prose—as early as possible? What future is there for a tyke whose picture book phase does not end with diapers? Should we take Herbert Kohl’s advice and burn Babar? ;; .. You have to wonder. The headline of Julie Bosman’s article in The New York Times is something of a shock: “Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children” I had thought my years of gallery-going had made me shockproof. Continue Reading