This week: On Brahms, cricket, paintings by Eric Aho, sculptures at The Clark & more.
This is Cricket: In the Spirit of the Game, by Daniel Melamud (Rizzoli): One of the most delightful phrases in the English language is “not cricket,” meaning, roughly, “not fair play.” One of the most delightful summer afternoons I ever spent was in the cheap seats at the Marylebone Cricket Club, watching a county match, reveling in the fact that, in a most civilized policy, the stadium allows spectators to bring their own drinks. I was reminded of that day after receiving a copy of This is Cricket, a gorgeous new release from Rizzoli containing photographs of the game in panorama, from village greens in England to the Nehru Stadium in India and much besides. Make room for this one next to your Wisden. —BR
“Eric Aho: Source” at DC Moore Gallery (through November 7): A few weeks ago I noted an exhibition that put Frederick Church’s sweeping nineteenth-century depictions of the sublime landscape into conversation with Mark Rothko’s inward-facing abstractions, the best of which evoke sublimity through the non-representational language of pure painting. One contemporary artist who merges both of these impulses in his hunt for painterly transcendence is Eric Aho, whose seventh solo exhibition at DC Moore is now on view in Chelsea. Based in a small town in southern Vermont, Aho carries the unruly northern woods into his studio, incorporating recollections of disjointed natural phenomena into the precarious harmony of an abstract whole. The paintings, the largest of which measure ninety by eighty inches, present first as vertiginous walls of cascading pigment, but into these Aho punches deep pockets of distant space that open paths for the eye and mind to wander. A must-see for those wondering how romanticist ideas about both nature and painting remain fertile ground for the twenty-first century artist. —AS
“Viennese Masters,” by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra: “Healthy” was the word an old professor of mine used to describe listening to Johannes Brahms. I can think of no better way to sum up the hermit of Hamburg’s music, which always exudes a hearty appreciation for life without ever straying into senseless gaiety or abject melancholy. To me, this attitude is best expressed by his Symphony No. 3, with its repeated motif of the notes F–A♭–F—a musical cryptogram and Brahms’s twist on the German motto “Frei aber einsam” (free but lonely) as “Frei aber froh” (free but happy). Now available to stream online is a recent concert from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, pairing Stephen Hough in Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 together with Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 99—one of Haydn’s “London Symphonies” and decidedly healthy music as well. —IS
“Ground/work” at The Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts (through October 2021): When Sterling and Francine Clark founded their art institute nestled in the hills of the northern Berkshires in 1950, one of the motivations was to locate an important collection of painting and sculpture away from the Cold War target of a big city. An added benefit was the bucolic landscape around the museum, which has only recently been opened up to visitors through a 140-acre network of meadow and forest trails. Now for the first time, the institute has commissioned a selection of artists to create new work for this area, with Kelly Akashi, Nairy Baghramian, Jennie C. Jones, Eva LeWitt, Analia Saban, and Haegue Yang siting sculptures among these hills and dales. —JP
From the archive:
“Who reads Mencken now?,” by Hilton Kramer (January 2003). A review of The Skeptic: A Life of H. L. Mencken, by Terry Teachout.
“The Founders’ priceless legacy.” Myron Magnet, The New Criterion’s Visiting Critic, delivers the second annual Circle Lecture.
“In the shadow of the big house,” by Timothy Jacobson. On James Monroe’s Highlands.