“A Collection Without Borders” & “Anatomy of a Fresco,” at the Hispanic Society of America, New York (opening September 15): When the Hispanic Society of America reopened its Main Court this past summer after a six-year restoration, those of us expecting a return to form had to wait. The treasures of its collection were still on tour. Now the masterpieces are returning to the walls of 155th Street and Broadway in a rehang called “A Collection Without Borders,” what the museum bills as a “selection of its finest, most representative pieces, coming from different continents, featuring various techniques at the crossroads of multiple influences, eloquent—and sometimes puzzling—testimonies of an interconnected, global world.” If that sounds quixotic, at least the Duchess of Alba will be back to point the way—or at least point to the word “Goya” drawn in the sand at her feet. The opening will also include “Anatomy of a Fresco,” the first look at a recent donation of sketches by José Clemente Orozco from the collection of Salma and Michael Wornick. —JP
“Brett Taylor: Icarus,” at Hollis Taggart, New York (September 14 through October 14): “The light of Greece,” Henry Miller wrote, “opened my eyes, penetrated my pores, expanded my whole being.” Some of that light can be found in Chelsea this month, emanating from the canvases of Hollis Taggart’s “Brett Taylor: Icarus.” Brett Taylor’s life was fast and a little mythic: American-born, he disappeared in the middle of his master’s program, reappeared in Greece, started an art school of his own at age twenty-three on the island of Paros (with no electricity or running water), gained a cult-like following, then died in 1983 at forty from alcoholism. All the while, he was developing a style intended to capture the mythos of Greece itself, composing sun-drenched, panoramic tableaux where the nation’s fabled past intrudes on the present. Hollis Taggart’s retrospective is a first in the states, and it is accompanied by a vital catalogue. —LL
New York City All-Day Sacred Harp Singing, at the Brooklyn Friends Meeting (September 16): In the eighteenth century, English Protestants brought a loose tradition of communal religious singing to America. This style coalesced in New England during the years of the Second Great Awakening, which popularized the practice of shape-note singing, in which notes are sight read and solmized (“fa-so-la”) with the help of shapes assigned to specific pitches. Nonetheless, this egalitarian, exuberant style went extinct in the North around the time of the Civil War, and until recently was preserved only by a handful of congregations and families in the rural South. This Saturday, the New York City All-Day Sacred Harp Singing, an annual gathering of shape-note singers, will offer an opportunity to hear (and sing with) living practitioners of this music. Its arresting, antique harmonies and stirring Protestant poetry strike, I believe, a chord laid deep within the religious and musical subconscious of our nation. —IS
The Invention of the English Landscape c. 1700–1939, by Peter Borsay & Rosemary Sweet (Bloomsbury Academic): Peter Borsay (1950–2020) was a quiet hero of British architectural history whose books treated the provincial with as much care and interest as is usually devoted to the grand. His book The English Urban Renaissance (1989) is essential for understanding why English towns outside of London look the way they do, and The Georgian Image of Bath (2000) explains much more about that great spa town than do most conventional histories. When Borsay died in 2020 he was at work on a book about how the landscape functioned in English society from the eighteenth century to the twentieth. That book, written with Rosemary Sweet, is out now from Bloomsbury. —BR
By the Editors:
From the Archives:
“Delacroix reconsidered,” by Roger Kimball (September 1998). On “Delacroix: The Late Work,” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
“Roman lasers,” by Paul du Quenoy. On a new production of Verdi’s Aida at the Arena di Verona.