This week: Hamilton home restoration, French papal disputation & more.

Eric Brown, The White Triangle, 2017Oil on linen,


The Avignon Papacy Contested: An Intellectual History from Dante to Catherine of Siena, by Unn Falkeid (Harvard University Press): The seventy-year period during which seven Catholic Popes broke tradition by residing in Avignon, France rather than in Rome is most widely known for the growth of the Church’s authority over matters of state and the concurrent growth of the Curia’s bureaucracy. The magnitude of the Church’s political might in the fourteenth century may be inferred by the physical immensity of Avignon’s Palais des Papes, the seat of Christian power and papal residence from 1309 to 1377. Unn Falkeid’s new book, The Avignon Papacy Contested, follows the intellectual and theological writings of six leading thinkers (among them Dante Alighieri, William of Ockham, Petrarch, and Catherine of Siena) who focused on Avignon, responding to and challenging the Church’s growing insistence on holding a temporal authority (in addition to its spiritual authority) over European Christendom. Out of this debate arose several seminal texts that reflect Europe’s early-modern understanding of the legitimacy of power. As such, Falkeid’s book is a welcome addition to the history of the political and intellectual climate of Europe in the fourteenth century.—AS


Brenda Goodman, Tomorrow’s Promise, 2017Oil on wood,

Gallery openings at 56 Bogart Street (September 8): Following its summer estivation, the New York gallery scene returns with strong openings all this month. The Bushwick gallery building of 56 Bogart alone is hosting several of them with opening receptions this Friday evening. At Theodore:Art, Eric Brown examines the tension of figure and ground in bold color-field paintings. At David & Schweitzer, Brenda Goodman finds expression in the working and reworking of her materials, while at Studio 10, Meg Hitchcock devotes her collage to the intense reformulation of letters, shapes, and words in “10,000 Mantras.”—JP


Giacomo Puccini’s La fanciulla del West, New York City Opera, Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater (September 6, 8, 10, 12): One pleasant surprise of the last few seasons has been the resurgence of the New York City Opera, under the direction of Michael Capasso. Since emerging from bankruptcy under new management in January 2016, the company has shown itself to be flexible and imaginative, mounting productions of various sizes in multiple venues, and giving audiences a taste of the new and unusual alongside a handful of standard repertory items. This week, they begin their second full season with the original Spaghetti Western, Puccini’s 1910 gold-rush romance La fanciulla del West. Kristin Sampson and Jonathan Burton star in a production by Ivan Stefanutti, with James Meena conducting. —ECS


Photo: U.S. National Park Service

Hamilton Grange: Relocation and Restoration of Alexander Hamilton’s Home (September 12): Those interested in issues of architectural preservation and conservation are in for a treat next week. The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art and The Horticultural Society of New York will host a special tour of The Grange—or, as it’s known now, Hamilton Grange—Alexander Hamilton’s 1802 Federal-style country house now situated in St. Nicholas Park, between 140th and 141st Streets. Stephen Spaulding, the National Park Service’s director of historic architecture, will lead the tour, detailing the history of the house from its initial construction to its two relocations, while touching specifically on current interior restoration projects. The tour is a rare chance to experience the founder at home (off-off-Broadway), rather than as a player on a musical stage, and is well worth the $20 tariff.—BR

From the archive: “Has success spoiled the art museum?” by Hilton Kramer (September 1991). On the de-aestheticization of the museum.

From the current issue: “Internal rot” by Anthony Daniels. On the graduate exhibition of the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Paris.

Broadcast: Elucidations & Corrections: Arts Criticism. Roger Kimball, Jay Nordlinger, James Panero, David Yezzi, and Laura Jacobs discuss arts journalism at the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Click here for a full archive of past Critic’s Notebooks.

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