Recent links of note:
Musée d’Orsay sends Manet’s Olympia to Russia
Sophia Kishovsky, The Art Newspaper
In a sign of increasingly warm relations between France and Russia, one of the former’s finest artworks will leave Paris for only the second time in its history. Famously conservative Russia will receive one of France’s most outré works, Manet’s Olympia, and display it at the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow beginning April 19, after which it will travel to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. According to The Art Newspaper, further loans of French works are being planned for the Kremlin. Is this the start of paint diplomacy?
John Tierney, City Journal
We’re often told that America’s children are stunningly behind the rest of the world’s in science education. To address this the nation has undertaken an effort to improve and increase STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programming, both in schools and museums. But it’s not enough merely to give children access to science—it must be the right science. Dissent is out; as John Tierney tells it, if a generous funder disagrees with the so-called scientific consensus then he can, colloquially, pound sand. To this end a group of scientists and museum curators have signed a letter calling for divestment of fossil-fuel funders. It’s the same idea at work on college campuses—free speech is a cherished value, until you disagree with me, then you’re a hate-monger. Tierney diagnoses the condition exactly:
To reach this [progressive, collectivist] future, the group is using the modern Left’s favorite method of debate: silence the opposition. The activists and the scientists allied with them are following the twelfth of Saul Alinksy’s “Rules for Radicals”: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” The letter to museums is part of the larger campaign to demonize David Koch and other conservatives, to deny them any public credit for their philanthropy, and to prevent any reputable institution from having anything to do with them. The letter is a warning shot to donors and corporations: if you give money to a conservative cause, you will be banished from museums and respectable society.
In their quest to be “on the right side of history,” these letter-signers do immeasurable harm to the institutions they hold so dear.
The Daoud Affair
Paul Berman and Michael Walzer, Tablet
More malfeasance from the intelligentsia, this time in the realm of arts and letters. Once a critical darling, Kamel Daoud—author of the well-regarded The Meursault Investigation—finds himself having crossed the leftist tastemakers who once so hailed him. His crime? He dared criticize the nugatory practices common to so much modern practice of Islam. This, the Western left, great defenders of that faith (but no others) could not abide. As Berman and Walzer tell it, rather than being welcomed as a teller of hard truths, the writer is demonized: “Western intellectuals accuse the liberal from the Muslim world of being a racist against Muslims, or an Islamophobe, or a “native informant” and a tool of imperialism. Sometimes they accuse the liberal from the Muslim world of stupidity, too, or lack of talent.” We’ve seen this before—think Rushdie—and we’ll see it again, as long as the cultural blinders stay on.
From our pages:
The scars of Lorelei
On the rebirth of a Bronx monument.