This week: On Mel Kendrick, Katherine Bradford, the history of British sartorialism & more.
“Mel Kendrick: Seeing Things in Things,” at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts (through October 3): “Seeing Things in Things” is an appropriate title for the career-spanning survey of the works of Mel Kendrick, which recently opened at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts. Working primarily in sculpture but traversing through print-making and photography, since the 1970s Kendrick has explored the negative of positive space. With sixty of his sculptures on view as well as pieces in other media, this exhibition assembles the range of Kendrick’s captivating body of work, where extractions become interventions and derivatives revised iterations. With an interest in the making, not just the made, Kendrick’s process-based works in wood, paper, and concrete are puzzles unsolved and mysteries, ultimately, of abstract form. —JP
“Katherine Bradford: Mother Paintings,” at Canada New York (through May 15): I’m something of an oil chauvinist. No, I don’t wear a ten-gallon hat and spend my nights dreaming of pumpjacks drilling away into the horizon of a grassy plain. Rather, I’ve an inborn bias for oil paint—that is, as opposed to its synthetic, twentieth-century impersonator: acrylic resin. I like oil’s oldness—a six-hundred-year-old medium, it’s got a long tradition behind it—but also its organic naturalness (typically it comes from linseed), its slowness of drying, its feel, its smell, etc. Acrylic paint is new and artificial; it dries in seconds and can often look sterile and cold. But Katherine Bradford’s exhibition of new acrylics, on now at Canada in Tribeca, had me reconsidering my prejudice against plastic paint. Bradford’s “Mother paintings” are composed of broad expanses of thin, brushy, high-keyed color, bringing the spirit of Mark Rothko and Milton Avery to an age-old subject that’s yet startlingly “of the moment” (not a few seem tinged by the context of COVID). The paintings are smart and sensitive, moody and contemplative, grippingly open. They reward long looking. —AS
Mahler’s songs and Brahms’s Symphony No. 1, performed by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Manfred Honeck (streaming through April 29, 2022): To a principled concertgoer of the fin de siècle, this pairing of Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 (1876) with a selection of Mahler’s songs would have seemed jarring. Brahms (1833–97) was a disciple of Beethoven and the exemplar of “conservative” German composition at the close of the nineteenth century; Mahler (1860–1911), whose music was the offspring of Liszt’s and Wagner’s Faustian bargains with the muses, was a vanguardist of a new musical style bearing the existential hallmarks of the modern age. But though the devotees of their respective camps tossed barbs at one another from the ramparts of opposing journals, the two men held each other in high regard. Brahms’s influence was inescapable, and though the elder composer lamented the changes taking place in music toward the end of his lifetime, for Brahms, Mahler was “the king of the Revolutionaries,” and the one to whom he gave his seal of approval even on his deathbed. Hear the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Manfred Honeck in a fine performance of music by Mahler and Brahms, with the baritone Peter Mattei as the vocalist in the Mahler. —IS
Dandy Style: 250 Years of British Men’s Fashion, edited by Shaun Cole and Miles Lambert (Yale University Press): In the first book of Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time, the languid, aristocratic Charles Stringham chides Peter Templer, a housemate at school, for a flash outfit worn on a day trip to London: “If you’re not careful you will suffer the awful fate of the man who always knows the right clothes to wear and the right shop to buy them at.” The lesson is clear and correct: it doesn’t do for men to think too hard about their clothes. Shaun Cole and Miles Lambert, the editors of Dandy Style, a new book produced to accompany an exhibition opening in November at the Manchester Art Gallery, take the opposite approach, thinking very hard indeed about matters sartorial. This handsomely produced book, with its obligatory depictions of Britain’s great historical dandies—Brummell, Disraeli, Edward VIII, the still-living Roy Strong, and others—is an engaging look at the showier end of men’s style, especially men who take Polonius’s decree that “The apparel oft proclaims the man” as encouragement rather than a warning. —BR
From the Editors:
“‘Soutine / De Kooning: Conversations in Paint’ Review: Discordant Dialogue.”
Andrew L. Shea, The Wall Street Journal
From the archive:
“Ralph Ellison and a literary “ancestor”: Dostoevsky,” by Joseph Frank (September 1983). On Ralph Ellison and Fyodor Dostoevsky.
“Music for a While #43: Embraceability.”
Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.
“Apropos of nothing in particular,” by James F. Penrose. On various recent & not-so-recent books of interest in Paris’s bookstores.