Silvestro dei Gherarducci, The Nativity and Annunciation in an initial P, from the Gradual 1, 1392–99, Morgan Library & Museum, New York. On view at “Morgan’s Bibles: Splendor in Scripture.”

Fiction:

Christine Coulson’s One Woman Show, presented by the author with ten artists, writers & curators, at McNally Jackson Seaport, New York (October 17): “In imagined picture after imagined picture,” writes Andrew Stuttaford of the novel One Woman Show, “[Christine] Coulson gently (and not so gently) examines what the canvas reveals and what it conceals.” The idea is that such examinations might themselves constitute a work of art. One Woman Show tells the life of one Caroline Margaret “Kitty” Brooks Whitaker, born 1906, in vignettes of seventy-five words or fewer, patterned after the wall captions Coulson wrote as an employee of the Metropolitan Museum for twenty-five years. This Tuesday, October 17, Coulson and a coterie of colleagues will be on hand at McNally Jackson Seaport to read selections from the novel. Stuttaford’s full review can be found in The New Criterion’s November 2023 issue, online this Wednesday and coming soon to newsstands and mailboxes. —RE

Art:

Max Beckmann, Detail from Paris Society, 1925/1931/1947, Oil on canvas, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. On view at “Max Beckmann: The Formative Years, 1915–1925” at Neue Galerie, New York.

“Max Beckmann: The Formative Years, 1915–1925,” at Neue Galerie, New York (through January 15): In both his life and work, the German artist Max Beckmann reflected the traumas of the First World War. As a volunteer nurse in East Prussia in 1914, he wrote to his wife Minna Beckmann-Tube that he “experienced dreadful things and died myself with them several times.” A year later, he suffered a nervous breakdown while serving in Belgium. An exhibition now at Neue Galerie, New York, looks to Beckmann’s “formative years” following this wartime service. Curated by Olaf Peters, a professor at Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, the exhibition brings together one hundred works by the artist to focus on the decade-long period when Beckmann moved away from an Impressionistic style to the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). JP

Art:

Anonymous, Front cover of the Lindau Gospels, ca. 870, Morgan Library & Museum, New York. Photo: Graham S. Haber.

“Morgan’s Bibles: Splendor in Scripture,” at the Morgan Library & Museum, New York (opens October 20): One of the unintended casualties of Gutenberg’s printing press was the illuminated manuscript: Gutenberg’s invention democratized access to the Word, but in doing so made superfluous the practice of hand-writing and adorning the pages of the Bible. Few texts indicate this practice’s value so clearly as the Lindau Gospels, a gem-laden, technicolor fruit of many decades of labor by monks across medieval Europe. Hundreds of precious stones embellish the Lindau’s gold repoussé cover, its exuberant design evincing the horror vacui of its creators, and the book’s contents are inscribed in rich, remarkably well-preserved ink. Beginning this Friday, New York’s Morgan Library & Museum will display the Lindau as part of a new show, “Morgan’s Bibles: Splendor in Scripture,” alongside many other invaluable iterations of the Good Book, including a cuneiform tablet (ca. 1646–26 B.C.)  detailing an early version of the Deluge, the Golden Gospels of Henry VIII, and a copy of the Gutenberg Bible itself. LL

Music:

Khatia Buniatishvili. Photo: © Julia Wesely.

Khatia Buniatishvili performs at Carnegie Hall (October 19): There are a couple of layers of spin to peel away from the phenomenon of Khatia Buniatishvili—a case in point is the advance write-up for her Thursday recital in New York, which ponders if concert programs like this one “can perhaps be seen as a paradigm for life itself.” Well, that remains for us to judge on Thursday, but few will doubt that the Georgian pianist’s debut on the main stage at Carnegie Hall will present a player of great skill and bravado. A Lisztian by heart, Buniatishvili will play four pieces by the Hungarian that should prove the highlight of the evening, together with works by Satie, Chopin, Bach, Schubert, and Couperin. IS

Architecture:

Modern Buildings in London, by Ian Nairn (Notting Hill Editions): First published in 1964, Modern Buildings in London was the great architectural critic Ian Nairn’s paean to the best of near-contemporary London building, two hundred sixty specimens in all. In this book we find Nairn hopeful about the course of British architecture, but also displaying the early buds of his pessimism about the modern movement, as when he describes modern architecture as “hamstrung by self-consciousness and strangled by intellectual inhibitions. It is always what people ought to want, and too often what they had better want or else; almost never what they really want. Everything is done for people, not with them; the whole thing is sick.” His anger boiled over in a 1966 piece for the Observer, “Stop the Architects Now,” but Modern Buildings in London is a gentler work. Look for a fuller treatment from me in the December issue of The New Criterion. BR

By the Editors:

“Who or what are ‘the Palestinians?’”
Roger Kimball, The Spectator World

Dispatch:

“Death by irony,” by Luke Lyman. On “Roy Lichtenstein: Bauhaus Stairway Mural,” “Tetsuya Ishida: My Anxious Self” & “Brett Taylor: Icarus.”

From the Archives:

“A failure to communicate,” by Jeffrey Greggs (September 2011). A review of Caligula: A Biography by Aloys Winterling.

A Message from the Editors

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