This week: East End art, music at St. Paul’s, the latest campus novel & more.
Campusland: A Novel,by Scott Johnston (St. Martin’s Press): Move over David Lodge. Take a seat, Kingsley Amis. Scott Johnston has written a hilarious campus novel to rival Lodge’s Small World and Amis’s Lucky Jim. I suppose I should add Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons for good measure, for Johnston’s portrayal of the super-rich, super-woke “Devon University” (endowment: $38 billion, “just shy of Harvard”) and its denizens is pitch-perfect and Tom-Wolfesque in its sociological anatomy. Johnston gets the repellant deans of diversity, the stultifying exercise of Soviet-style “justice” against professors and students suspected of what Orwell called Wrongthink, the posturing, fake radicalism fueled by breathless naiveté and lots and lots of money, privilege hypocritically railing against privilege. The portrayal of Lulu, the on-the-make sort-of feminist, is priceless, as is the character of Red Wheeler, the trustifarian who is currently in his seventh year at Devon and is angling to stay forever. This is Johnston’s first novel. It is written with great assurance, poise, and skill. It surely will not be his last. —RK
“Painters of the East End,” at Kasmin Gallery, 297 Tenth Avenue (through August 16): The history of artist colonies on the far reaches of Long Island is a storied one. Thomas Moran built his studio in East Hampton in 1884, which soon became a gathering-place for creative types seeking a reprieve from dense Manhattan. William Merritt Chase formed one of the nation’s first plein-air schools in Southampton soon thereafter. Decades later, when Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner made Springs, East Hampton, their year-round home in 1945, many members of the rapidly blossoming avant-garde movement soon followed. But what’s immediately clear upon entry into “Painters of the East End,” a summery exhibition at Kasmin Gallery’s 297 Tenth Avenue space, is that, unlike previous generations of Long Island painters, these midcentury artists shared no discernably unified style, ranging from various modes of non-objective painting to sensitively observed modernist realism. Rather, the painters included here (who happen all to be women—among them are rock-stars like Helen Frankenthaler, Jane Freilicher, Elaine de Kooning, Krasner, and Joan Mitchell) share what we may call a distinct sensibility, one surely influenced, if intangibly so, by the open skies and fresh air of the East End. The show is a blast of cool oxygen for these hot and heavy city days. —AS
Mozart’s “Gran Partita,” by the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, at St. Paul’s Chapel (July 27): It might not seem it after this past weekend’s sweltering weather, but there remains at least one benefit to summering in New York City: when the major orchestras take their mid-year pause, a wide range of specialists step up to fill the void, often with unique and compelling performances. Led by Louis Langrée, the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra has prepared one such event for this Saturday, July 27. They’ll be setting up shop at Wall Street’s historic St. Paul’s Chapel to give a performance of the wunderkind’s Serenade for Winds in B-flat major, K. 361 (“Gran Partita”—the “grand” truncated due to a copy error, the story goes). Scored for twelve winds and double bass, the piece should fill out the intimate concert space. And although power outages are an ongoing concern in such times as these, concertgoers risk only their time in the case of a blackout—the performance is free. —RE
“Chatsworth: The Complete Work of Art,” with Clive Aslet (July 24): It’s been a summer of Chatsworth at both Sotheby’s and on the Critic’s Notebook. But I would be remiss if I didn’t point you in the direction of a lecture this Wednesday hosted jointly by the auction house and the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. That night Clive Aslet, the former editor of Country Life and a frequent contributor to The New Criterion, will discuss Chatsworth as a Gesamtkunstwerk, or complete work of art—from its Capability Brown Gardens to the Lucian Freuds lining the walls. The talk is free and open to the public, though pre-registration is required. —BR
From the archive: “Egon Petri: the musician as virtuoso,” by Samuel Lipman (April 1992). On the Dutch pianist’s art and legacy.
From the current issue: “The Left against Zion,” by Dominic Green. On the intellectual left and Israel.