“Bellini and Giorgione in the House of Taddeo Contarini,” at Frick Madison, New York (through February 4, 2024): When the Frick Collection moved into temporary digs on Madison Avenue in 2021, Giovanni Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert (ca. 1475–80) landed an alcove studio of its own. With Marcel Breuer’s trapezoidal window accentuating Bellini’s luminous dynamics, the setting was near sublime. But then Xavier F. Salomon, the Frick’s Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, started wondering what might fill the empty wall facing Bellini. For Salomon the answer was Giorgione’s Three Philosophers (ca. 1508–09); both paintings at one time hung in the same Venetian palazzo of Taddeo Contarini. Through a loan from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, the masterpieces have now been reunited for the first time in some four hundred years in an unprecedented two-painting exhibition. An accompanying catalogue by Salomon with new research into both works has been published in association with D Giles Limited. —JP
“Mark Rothko: Paintings on Paper,” at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (through March 31): “Why paint at all?” asked Mark Rothko in The Artist’s Reality (ca. 1940). It turned out the painter himself wasn’t quite sure, though eventually he settled on some vague desire for immortality as the source of the creative impulse. The artist’s own steady march toward reputational immortality takes another step forward this week in the form of “Mark Rothko: Paintings on Paper,” now open at the National Gallery of Art through March 31. Several color-field paintings in the artist’s iconic style are included, but these are accompanied by dozens of lesser-known works: strange surreal experimentations, bright landscapes, and claylike nudes are among the surprising offerings. These rarely displayed efforts will come under the eye of Karen Wilkin in a forthcoming issue. —LL
Academia: Collegiate Gothic Architecture in the United States, by William Morgan (Abbeville Press): While James Gamble Rogers’s neo-Gothic buildings on Yale’s campus may lack what Horace Walpole called “the true rust of the Barons’ War,” the buildings are plausibly medieval, if also slightly ill at ease in contemporary New Haven. In his new book Academia, William Morgan offers an overview of the flowering of the collegiate Gothic style in America between the Civil War and the crash of 1929. Here is a splendidly illustrated book full of insight, as when Morgan describes the Harkness Tower at Yale’s Branford College as “the apogee of the Collegiate Gothic style in America: a reminder of Oxford, but larger and better.” —BR
“French Haute Cuisine: An Elaborate Historical Meal Set in Louis XIV Versailles,” with Victoria Flexner & Jay Reifel, presented by the James Beard Foundation (November 28): Last month, my colleague Benjamin Riley flagged Victoria Flexner and Jay Reifel’s new History of the World in Ten Dinners, a sumptuous survey of cuisines past “that can be reenacted at home.” Of course, the home kitchens of many readers will be given over to a certain American culinary reenactment this week, and some even booked up through December. So it’s timely that next Tuesday, November 28, the James Beard Foundation’s “French Haute Cuisine: An Elaborate Historical Meal Set in Louis XIV Versailles” will offer relief from the seasonal food-prep pressure, providing a seventeenth-century escape not to colonial Massachusetts but to early modern France. Flexner and Reifel will preside over the five-course meal and dish up a few helpings of cultural history, too. —RE
By the Editors:
“Hamas and retaking higher education”
Roger Kimball, Spectator World
From the Archives:
“The uses of the Devil,” by James Tuttleton (January 1996). On The Death of Satan: How Americans Have Lost the Sense of Evil by Andrew Delbanco.
“Quo vadis?” by Bruce Gilley. On religion, tradition & civic authority in Italy.