This week: Linn Ullmann, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, the Chippendale legacy & more from the world of culture.
Unquiet, by Linn Ullmann (Norton): A middle-aged Swedish woman plans to write a book with her octogenarian father about growing old. So she travels north to the isolated island of Fårö, where her father lives like a hermit, surrounded by the Baltic Sea. There, she asks him the questions she’s always wanted to ask: about his many wives and nine children, the intense focus and furious creativity that drove his artistic career, and the many years the two spent apart. By the end of the story, these six interviews are all she has left of her father. For fans of the legendary film director Ingmar Bergman (1918–2007), this father figure may sound familiar. This is because Linn Ullmann is the daughter of Bergman and the actress Liv Ullmann, who starred in many of his films. Unquiet, the younger Ullmann’s sixth novel, was a hit in Scandinavia when it was released in 2015, both for the quality of its storytelling and for the way Ullmann uses fiction to help her audience, and herself, to understand her relationship with her father. Tomorrow, Unquiet will be available in English for the first time, in a translation from the Norwegian by Thilo Reinhard. —HN
“Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: In Lieu of a Louder Love,” at Jack Shainman Gallery (through February 16): The exhibition of paintings by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye at Jack Shainman has to be one of the New York gallery scene’s biggest events of Winter 2019. Occupying both of the gallery’s Chelsea locations (the first on Twentieth Street and the second on Twenty-fourth), the show includes twenty-six large-scale works in total and must be in contention if for nothing else than sheer square-footage. In a welcome contrast to most artists granted this echelon of marketplace prestige, however, Yiadom-Boakye comes off as a sincere and searching painter, perhaps even one who is still yet to reach the heights of her potential. The single and group portraits that comprise the exhibition are casually painted (Yiadom-Boakye is well known for completing large works over the course of a single day), but not manneredly so—there’s a prevailing sense of interest attuned to the subtleties of earthy color and painterly edge. In much the same way, her imagined figures, from reclining men to ballerinos-in-training, probe the line between unguarded ease and postured poise. —AS
Selected Works of McKim, Mead & White, 1879–1915 (Princeton Architectural Press): If you ever need evidence of our fallen world, look to Selected Works of McKim, Mead & White, 1879–1915. This stunning new hardcover from the Princeton Architectural Press’s Classic Reprint series, published in association with the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, collects the original four monograph volumes by the storied firm of Charles F. McKim, William R. Mead, and Stanford White under one cover. With a new introduction from Richard Guy Wilson and an essay by Leland M. Roth, the book features plans from the firm’s major projects, signaling its many triumphs but also how many works are now lost or altered, including New York’s Pennsylvania Station and the Brooklyn Museum. Compared to the architectural classicism of the Gilded Age, ours is a delaminated one. These selected works form a how-to manual for cultural reparation. —JP
“New Light on Chippendale’s Neoclassical Vision,” with Adam Bowett, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (January 17): There’s still time to see “Chippendale’s Director: The Designs and Legacy of a Furniture Maker,” an exploration of the master furniture designer’s long shadow, on through January 27 at the Met. Why not pair a visit to the exhibition with a lecture on new developments in Chippendale studies? This Thursday, Adam Bowett, an independent furniture historian, will speak at 2:oo p.m. For my thoughts on the exhibition, head over to Spectator USA. —BR
From the archive: “Marc Chagall 1887–1985,” by Hilton Kramer (May 1985). On the life and work of one of modern art’s giants.
From the current issue: “Making book in Russia,” by Jeffrey Meyers. On the subject of gambling in canonical Russian literature.