This week: Indian art, opening night at the Met Opera & more.                          

Jason Karolak, Untitled (P-1714), 2017Oil on linen, McKenzie Fine Art


Thirty-Eight: The Hurricane that Transformed New England, by Stephen Long (Yale University Press): This year’s hurricane season has been thus far devastating to the Gulf Coast region of the American South, with August’s Harvey and Irma inflicting particularly terrible damage on human, social, and environmental levels. As these catastrophic events have captured the country’s imagination—and as the storms’ many victims have captured its sympathies—Stephen Long’s new book from Yale University Press feels especially timely. Thirty-Eight: The Hurricane that Transformed New England recounts the history of the deadliest hurricane ever to hit New England, which made landfall on the Coast during the tail end of the Great Depression. Typical histories of the infamous storm focus on its urban impact—the wreckage and loss of life in major cities and populations. Against this conventional perspective, Long’s work focuses on the ways in which the storm, which uprooted some 2.6 billion board feet of timber (to give but one example of its damage), forever changed the face of New England’s inland forest. Combining meticulous research with gripping first-hand accounts of survivors, Thirty-Eight promises to enthrall any of those interested in the ecological or social history of New England’s mighty woods. —AS


Jason Karolak, Untitled (P-1626), 2016Oil on linen over panel, McKenzie Fine Art

“Jason Karolak: Prospects” at McKenzie Fine Art, New York (through October 8): The painter Jason Karolak transforms oil on canvas into axiomatic compositions of light. Starting with hundreds of ink drawings, Karolak contrasts neon colors with black ground, with linear abstractions that seem to reference volumes of light in space. His latest exhibition, Prospects, at McKenzie Fine Art on the Lower East Side, demonstrates an increasing distillation of forms, with virtual space that recalls early computer graphics and the cathode-ray glow. —JP


Opening week at The Metropolitan Opera (September 25, 28): The Metropolitan Opera opens its season Monday night with a battle-tested classic: Norma, Bellini’s masterful tale of the tragic romance between a Celtic priestess and a Roman governor, in a new production by Sir David McVicar. The score features some of the most cherished music in the operatic canon, most notably the duet for Norma and Adalgisa “Deh! Con te, li prendi” and Norma’s ravishing Act I aria “Casta diva.” In the title role is Sondra Radvanovsky, whose previous Met appearances in the role earned rave reviews, complemented by the leading American mezzo Joyce DiDonato as Adalgisa. The star Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja sings the role of Pollione, the Roman proconsul, and Carlo Rizzi conducts. —ECS


Attributed to Shaikh Muhammad Amir of Karraya, A Syce (Groom) Holding Two Carriage Horses, ca. 1845, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Company School Painting in India (ca. 1770–1850)” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Through October 1): This week marks the last chance to see “Company School Painting in India,” a revival of a Met show from 2016. Without adjudicating the merits of the British East India Company, the show offers a sense of the fine work done in India for ascendant British patrons, the style of which came to be known as the “Company School” for its close associations with the East India Company. The show’s multifarious works display the preoccupations of the regnant British class: flora and fauna, the ruins of Indian antiquity, and of course horses. While A Syce (Groom) Holding Two Carriage Horses (ca. 1845), attributed to Shaikh Muhammad Amir of Karraya, doesn’t approach the detail of the work of that great equine portraitist George Stubbs, it is a fascinating document nonetheless, expressing the importance the settlers attached to traditional signifiers of British status, even as these were transported to a new world. —BR

From the archive: “The young Picasso” by Hilton Kramer (February 1991). On A Life of Picasso. Volume I: 1881–1906 by John Richardson.

From the current issue: “Exhibition note” by Christie Davies. On “Canaletto and the Art of Venice” at the Queen’s Gallery in London.

Broadcast: Fall classical music preview with Eric C. Simpson and Jay Nordlinger. Associate Editor Eric C. Simpson and music critic Jay Nordlinger discuss their picks for the first half of the 2017–18 New York music and opera season. Harlem Renaissance

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


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