Recent links of note:

How a Jay-Z Retrospective Took Over the Brooklyn Public Library
Joe Coscarelli, The New York Times

When I say the words public library, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Knowledge? Truth? A book? The international hip-hop mogul and rap superstar Jay-Z? The Brooklyn Library thinks of the last. Recently, the public was invited to view the library’s newly opened exhibition honoring the life and work of Jay-Z. (Of course, the public’s invitation only came the day after the library shut down for a private premiere of the show for the ultra elite, namely, Jay-Z’s pals.) This new exhibit features massive murals of the musician, display cases containing his myriad awards, and, of course, merchandise. Never mind the fact that the public book-lender had to remove a number of books to make room for all this. The Brooklyn Library is only the latest casualty among a scourge of libraries that seem bored with themselves. The most recent renovation to the Schwarzman branch of the New York Public Library was a cafe and lounge designed for people to “hang out in,” and, as James Panero explains in “A library by the book,” the American Library Association seems more concerned with the culture wars than they are with books. At the very least, one can rest assured that no tax dollars were spent funding Jay-Z’s ego-trip—his camp paid for the whole thing. 

Can ballet survive the culture wars?
Rupert Christiansen, The Spectator

Balanchine was wont to pick favorites—he even had favorites among the gods. Consider Apollo (1928): therein, the choreographer imagines the eponymous sun god’s artistic education at the hands of three of the Olympian Muses. Apollo shares the stage with and is “educated” by these Muses in turn, but the one with whom he develops the most complex and elaborate relationship is Terpischore, the Muse of dance. And later, when Apollo’s moment of apotheosis arrives, the first of the three Muses to follow him up the staircase to Olympus is nimble Terpsichore. Dance, Balanchine seems to be saying, is the first aspect of divinity. But if this is the case, then divinity is in trouble: As Rupert Christiansen pointed out in our December issue, ballet is not at all impervious to social winds. And as he points out in The Spectator, the social gusts of today are blowing with a special gusto—the question of ballet’s ability to weather this turbulence remains open. 

Whitney Museum of American Art raises ticket prices and becomes most expensive New York museum
Elena Goukassian, The Art Newspaper

An alternate headline for this story might be “New York’s most inflated museum becomes its most expensive.” The Whitney boasts four floors of gallery space; on any given day, only one of those floors—the private collection—is likely to be worth visiting. The other three will almost certainly leave the average museumgoer somewhere between bored and exasperated. A new pricing scheme charges thirty dollars for adults, which is the same fee one must pay to get into the Met. What does thirty dollars get you at the Met? Multiple works by Vermeer, a room full of Rothkos, galleries of Cézanne, and an entire wing of ancient Egyptian artifacts, to begin. And what does the same price-of-admission get you at the Whitney? At the moment, some Edward Hoppers, a Krasner or two, and three floors of spasmodic gesticulation on whatever flavor of transgression  is most in style. 

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