Recent links of note:
“ ‘Fritz Ascher: Expressionist’ Review: Finally at Home With the Greats”
Tom L. Freudenheim, The Wall Street Journal
Fritz Ascher is the artist the twentieth century lost. This is perhaps not surprising when one considers his biography. He was born in Berlin in 1893 to a Jewish family and so spent the years surrounding the Second World War on the run, eventually confined to a concentration camp and later imprisoned in Potsdam. A large portion of his work was destroyed during the bombing of Berlin, but much of what has survived is on display at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery through April 6. Tom L. Freudenheim challenges the “expressionist” label of the exhibition, but he does find similarities to the work of Lovis Corinth, Ascher’s fellow student, and Edvard Munch, an acquaintance. Ascher studied with the German impressionist Max Liebermann, learned printmaking from Marc Chagall’s teacher Hermann Struck, and created vibrant, moody, idiosyncratic works, often with recurring characters—such as Bajazzo the clown—who encourage the viewer to piece together this fragmented body of work into a whole.
“Taleb the Philosopher”
Joshua P. Hochschild, First Things
Nassim Nicholas Taleb is “our most important contemporary theorist of chance, luck, and the vagaries of life,” Joshua P. Hochschild claims. Taleb didn’t come to these philosophical themes in the typical way, but by way of numbers. Taleb is an options trader, risk analyst, and mathematician whose expertise in the field of probability came in handy during the lead-up to the 2008 market crisis, when he published the popular and prophetic The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007). But the idea of a “black swan,” or a large and unexpected event, is about more than just the stock market: Taleb is writing about the problem of human ignorance. In his 2012 Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, which Hochschild considers Taleb’s most “intellectually sophisticated” book, Taleb addresses “decision making under uncertainty.” People should rely on things that are old and lasting, or “Lindy”—a term borrowed from the tried-and-tested Manhattan restaurant (ironically, now closed)—and they should make themselves Lindy, as well, by strengthening mind and body with a semi-Platonic program of athletic training, fasting, classical learning, and Twitter. Hochschild finds it remarkable that Taleb’s blend of economics, psychology, and broadly Stoic philosophy has aligned him in many ways with classical philosophical wisdom. Taleb can be seen as another—doubtless very different—Boethius, a “bullshit detector” on the quest for lasting truths in a world of trendy, ephemeral ideas.
“British Museum to stage major show of Munch prints”
Martin Bailey, The Art Newspaper
The British Museum’s upcoming exhibition of prints by Edvard Munch promises to be something to scream about. The largest exhibition of its kind in almost fifty years, “Edvard Munch: Love and Angst” will open in April and will feature more than eighty works by an artist whose iconic work The Scream (1893) features a panicked subject with barely delineated features that became the de facto poster child for the anxieties of the twentieth century. This exhibition will provide an opportunity to fill in the rest of Munch’s oeuvre. For more on Munch and why The Scream tends to drown out his other work, read Franklin Einspruch’s review of a 2018 exhibition at the Met Breuer and Benjamin Riley’s exhibition note on one at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid.
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