This week: Constable and Turner, Paul Resika, the Albertine Prize & more.
Elegy Landscapes: Constable and Turner and the Intimate Sublime by Stanley Plumly (W. W. Norton & Company): John Constable and J. M. W. Turner are two painters fated to remain linked in the history books. Despite divergent approaches to the landscape, their Englishness, near-exact contemporaneity, and at-times bitter rivalry has led critics and historians to enact endless comparisons of the two. For my part, put me on team Constable. I’ll hang my hat on Clement Greenberg’s 1966 snappish appraisal that Turner “does not match Constable’s best, nor is he as important to subsequent major painting. If anything, he is more important to subsequent bad painting.” But for a more equitable exposition of the two painters, refer to Stanley Plumly’s Elegy Landscapes: Constable and Turner and the Intimate Sublime. Plumly, the renowned poet who was Maryland’s poet laureate from 2009–2018 and who died just three months ago at the age of seventy-nine, looks at Constable’s and Turner’s lives and paintings, considering how experiences of loss and death affected their painterly visions. —AS
“Paul Resika: Flowers” at Bookstein Projects (June 6–July 26): The nonagenarian painter Paul Resika draws on masters old and new, from his modernist mentor Hans Hofmann on through the Renaissance teachers he studied on the walls of the Veneto. What often connects his remarkable, protean style is motif. Opening this Thursday and on view through July at Bookstein Projects, “Paul Resika: Flowers” arranges three recent decades of his fragrant floral still-life paintings. Next Wednesday, July 12, the poet Vincent Katz will join Resika at the gallery for a reading and conversation occasioned by Katz’s new book, “Figures of Beach and City: Visits with Paul Resika,” featuring poems paired with photographs of the artist’s studio and paintings. The Bookstein exhibition also marks the launch of a new monograph of the artist to be published by Rizzoli in 2020. —JP
Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Rachmaninoff performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall (June 7): Conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Philadelphia Orchestra is known for its historical relationship with Russian composers, and this Friday it will bring an all-Russian program to Carnegie Hall. The program opens with Stravinsky’s Funeral Song, which premiered at a 1909 concert in remembrance of his teacher, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The score was lost when Stravinsky fled Russia, and was only rediscovered in 2015. The night will close with Rachmaninoff’s First Symphony, premiered in 1897, then not again played until 1945 due to a similar disappearance of the original manuscript. The program thus celebrates the joy of discovering lost treasure. Between these two pieces is another Russian gem, Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto. The concerto premiered in 1921 in Chicago, with the composer himself at the piano, and has since become a staple of the twentieth-century canon. This performance will feature Beatrice Rana as soloist. —DM
2019 Albertine Prize award ceremony at Albertine Books (June 5): L’heure est venue! On Wednesday night, Albertine Books will announce the winner of the 2019 Albertine Prize, an award that “recognizes American readers’ favorite work of contemporary Francophone fiction that has been translated into English and published in the U.S.” during the past year. The five books on the shortlist are: The Order of the Day by Éric Vuillard, Disoriental by Négar Djavadi, Small Country by Gaël Faye, The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani, and Waiting for Tomorrow by Nathacha Appanah. At the award ceremony, the author and translator Lydia Davis and the French literary critic François Busnel will sit down with the winning author and the translator for a discussion. The event is open to the public, but répondez s’il vous plaît. If you are unable to make it but still want to catch the excitement, Albertine will be live streaming the event. —RH
From the archive: “Literary victimhood,” by Anthony Daniels (September 1999). On victimhood and its literary cachet.
From the editors: “ ‘The Story Box: Franz Boas, George Hunt and the Making of Anthropology’ Review: People Persons,” by James Panero (The Wall Street Journal). The trailblazers of American anthropology worked to help us understand Kwakwaka’wakw art and customs on their own terms.
From the current issue: “Spilling over at the Whitney,” by Karen Wilkin. On “Spilling Over: Painting in Color in the 1960s” at the Whitney Museum of American Art.