Recent links of note:

“A Catalogue of Delightful Details”
Michael J. Lewis, The Wall Street Journal

The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building—the Beaux-Arts-style main branch of the New York Public Library—is a garden of sensory delights. Visitors can drift up vast marble staircases, gaze at the puffy pink clouds floating across the Rose Main Reading Room ceiling, and peer into mysterious locked rooms, such as the velvet-curtained Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, whose cupboards guard rare manuscript fragments (and, allegedly, a piece of Percy’s skull). Across the street sits a different creature altogether. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library—formerly the Mid-Manhattan Library, founded in 1970—is bright, gleaming, and pristine, perhaps even clinical for those who prefer their libraries cramped and cobwebbed. But, as Michael J. Lewis points out in The Wall Street Journal, what it lacks in historical intrigue it makes up for in practicality and comfort. On entering the library, which reopened in June after a $200 million renovation, visitors stroll down a red carpet and are guided by color and lighting rather than signs alone. The stacks, shielded from the noisy main floor, are located in a three-story space next to an atrium topped with a ceiling sculpture by Hayal Pozanti. Lewis says that this new space, which, unlike the main branch, has an annual circulation of two million items, is not “a building that swaggers, and its virtues are to be found in its quieter passages and little moments of tactile awareness.”

“Sacred rock-hewn churches at risk as rebel forces take control of Ethiopia’s Unesco World Heritage Site Lalibela”
Gareth Harris, The Art Newspaper 

Civil war has been tearing apart Ethiopia since last November. The violent conflict, which has killed thousands and displaced over a million, has also put the country’s cultural heritage at risk. Recently, forces from Ethiopia’s Tigray region have taken Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing eleven cave churches from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The site, whose construction is attributed to the twelfth-century ruler Lalibela, is believed to have functioned as a place of pilgrimage for Ethiopians when the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem made the Holy Land unreachable. Each of the churches is hewn from a single rock and is sunk so deeply as to disappear from the horizon. The builders carved out windows, doors, columns, and multiple floors, as well as a complex system of drainage ditches, ceremonial passageways, and catacombs external to the churches. Before the recent conflict, Lilabela was a major tourist destination and a continued site of pilgrimage for Ethiopian Orthodox and Coptic Christians. As Gareth Harris reports in The Art Newspaper, while there are currently no signs of damage, the deputy mayor of Lalibela remains concerned, saying, “This is the world’s heritage, and we must cooperate to guarantee that this treasure is preserved.”

“The Giacomettis—a family of artists gets its due”
Jan Dalley, Financial Times

In 1945, after working for the French Resistance in Provence, Aimé and Marguerite Maeght opened a gallery in Paris showing paintings Matisse had created over the course of the war. The Maeghts soon became some of the most important art dealers of the twentieth century, representing Miro, Chagall, Giacometti, and Braque, among others. At the suggestion of Braque, the Maeghts opened a private foundation for their own collection on a hilltop in Nice in 1964. Many of the couple’s artist friends contributed to the building, including Braque himself, whose final work, the mosaic Les Poissons, adorns the floor of an outdoor pool. Jan Dalley of the Financial Times reviews the Maeght Foundation’s current exhibition, “The Giacometti: A Family of Creators,” which places works by the sculptor Alberto, represented by the Maeghts from 1947, alongside those by his lesser-known family members. His father, Giovanni, for instance, was a successful painter deeply influenced by late-nineteenth-century art movements and the landscape around Stampa, the family’s village in Switzerland. Diego, one of Alberto’s younger brothers and his studio assistant, was also a designer of whimsical furniture. In fact, some of Diego’s pieces in the collection retain their original function—as Dalley notes, the Foundation’s café “may be the only one in the world in which customers can sit on museum-quality chairs.”

Podcasts:

“Music for a While #49: Sparks.” Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.

Dispatch:

“Bach the European,” by Jay Nordlinger. On an evening with Sir András Schiff at the Salzburg Festival.

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