This week: A revolutionary ship, strips and drips & more.
Book Talk: “The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn,” with Robert P. Watson, at the Brooklyn Historical Society (December 13): Though HMS Jersey began life as a British gunship, seeing action in 1739 in the comically named War of Jenkins’s Ear, by late 1770s she had been converted to something much more sinister: a prison ship. Moored in Wallabout Bay, which later became the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Jersey contained over 11,000 prisoners, often in squalid conditions, during the course of the Revolutionary War. In a new book, Robert P. Watson tells the story of how the ship’s gruesome reputation drove support for the revolutionaries in New York. He speaks on the topic this Wednesday at the Brooklyn Historical Society. —BR
“Kenneth Noland: Circles, Early + Late, 1959–1962, 1999–2002” at Yares Art (through December 30, 2017): In the late 1950s, Kenneth Noland (1924–2010) redefined American abstraction with his “Circles.” Color-rich and cool, the paintings were reticent, and were therefore radical departures from the expressionism of the New York School. Over four decades on, Noland circled back to the famous motif. Noland’s “Circles: Early + Late” are now paired in an entrancing exhibition at Yares Art that tells us “everything he discovered over a half century of painting,” as Karen Wilkin writes in her catalogue essay. Drawing on new paints rich in chroma and embedded with microscopic metals, Noland turned his late circles inside out, with the centrifugal spinning of his paintings from the 1950s and ’60s becoming an increasingly inward, centripetal, absorbing pull. —JP
Jamie Barton and Kathleen Kelly at Carnegie Hall (December 18): Jamie Barton has come into her own as an artist, now widely regarded as one of the leading mezzo-sopranos of the day. Lately, she’s drawn general acclaim for her turn as Adalgisa in the second cast of Norma at the Met (opposite Angela Meade in the title role), which concludes this week. Next Monday, her recital in Zankel Hall will be a welcome reprieve for concertgoers who have had their fill of Messiahsand carols. Her wide-ranging program with the pianist Kathleen Kelly includes Haydn’s Arianna a Naxos, Richard Strauss’s towering lied “Cäcilie,” and a new commission by Iain Bell. Among the most intriguing items is “S’il arrive jamais,” a song by the legendary music teacher Nadia Boulanger, whose many illustrious pupils included Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, and Astor Piazzolla. —ECS
“William Corbett: John Walker Drawing,” a lecture at the New York Studio School (December 12): John Walker’s paintings, with their messy zig-zag patterns and hard-won but also lyrical expressivity, have long served as evidence of the enduring vitality of modernism and abstraction. Walker’s willingness to incorporate disparate elements such as landscape motifs, the crude gestures of “bad art,” and even painted writing in his works has allowed him to point towards new and fresh solutions for painting in today’s world. For over twenty years, Walker further worked to inspire young painters at Boston University’s graduate painting program, as a professor from 1993–2015 and as its director from 1999–2014. On Tuesday, the poet and art critic William Corbett will present a lecture on John Walker’s art at the New York Studio School at 8 West 8th Street, coinciding with the opening of an exhibition, also featuring the artist’s work, titled “John Walker: The Sea and The Brush.”—AS
From the archive: “Abstraction in America: the first generation” by Hilton Kramer (October 1999). On Marsden Hartley and Arthur Dove.
From the current issue:“Adventures in Moominland” by Dominic Green. On “Tove Jansson,” at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London.