Recent links of note:

“South London Gallery returned funding to Sackler Trust last year”
Martin Bailey, The Art Newspaper

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney were chastised last year and into January for accepting money from members of the Sackler family, whose pharmaceutical company, Purdue Pharma, has come under fire for its production of the opioid OxyContin. Though the company denies the allegations made in lawsuits over their marketing of the drug, London art institutions have begun to reject a long tradition of Sackler funding for the arts in the United Kingdom. Last year, the South London Gallery returned an award from the Sacker Trust, and this week the trust withdrew a £1 million pledge towards a £35.5 million grant to the National Portrait Gallery after the NPG “indicated that it would be difficult to accept the money,” Martin Bailey writes. “There will be mounting pressure on museums to drop the Sackler name,” Bailey continues, “although this would need the agreement of the relevant family members.” Though the opioid epidemic is not to be taken lightly, the retreat from Sackler money and the scrubbing of their name from the galleries they have long supported seems more about assuaging guilt by association than it is about reckoning with the actual crisis and those it affects.

“ ‘The Hebrew Bible’ and ‘The Art of Bible Translation’ Review: An ear for Scripture”
Eric Ormsby, The Wall Street Journal

The difficulty of translating the Hebrew Bible into English is apparent from its first word. Bereshit is not “In the beginning,” as if creation started at a fixed point in time, but more of a “When”: “When God began to create, the world was welter and waste,” begins Robert Alter’s translation. Alter’s translation was recently published after almost forty years of releasing individual books and sections, along with related works of criticism on Biblical narrative, the history of English Biblical translations, and more. With this literary translation, Alter aims to bring out the poetry, the storytelling, and the complex beauty of a work that is too often glossed over in modern translations to make it “accessible,” or stripped of its nuances in scholarly attempts to “correct” the text. That Alter’s concerns are literary, not doctrinal, may give some readers pause. But Eric Ormsby calls Alter’s translation “a credible successor to the King James Bible,” though “rougher, blunter, more jagged, not so stately . . . all the more compelling for that.”

“The Arts: Who Needs ’Em?”

Jay Nordlinger, National Review

In a recent interview with the Smithsonian Institution, Jay Nordlinger recently had what William F. Buckley called “infield practice”: running over the basics in his area of expertise. Nordlinger responds to timeless questions like “What makes a work of art truly great?,” “How should art be taught in schools?,” “Does art need to be relevant?,” and that perennial head-scratcher: “Is there such a thing as political art?” The bottom line, for Nordlinger, is that art is above time, place, and politics—or, more accurately, that great art reaches and elevates no matter where we are. Read the rest at National Review.

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