Recent links of note:
“Can Vienna Be Saved Again?”
Rod Dreher, The American Conservative
The date “September 11” is itself enough to confirm the famous saying that history “rhymes”; the attacks on America in 2001 recalled another clash between Islam and the West on the same day in 1683, when the Holy Roman alliance defended Vienna against the Ottoman advance. The Catholic Archbishop of Vienna Christoph Schoenborn marked the anniversary by daring his congregants to embrace Western identity as their ancestors had, triggering the outrage of Austria’s journalistic class. In his latest post, Rod Dreher of The American Conservative uses the controversy to examine the risks of Europe’s self-loathing—can a ruling class that is more incensed by their people’s patriotism than by Islamic terrorism be trusted to defend their nations? One imagines that unless history ceases to rhyme and the threat of terrorism recedes on its own, the future of Europe will depend on its leaders recovering a bit of late-Medieval grit.
“Did Degas Make This Plaster? An Expert Now Says Yes”
William D. Cohan, The New York Times
The judgement of an art historian can transform a dubious piece of plaster or canvas into an artistic treasure and vice versa—with a definitiveness worthy of King Solomon. Most recently, the former chairman of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Arthur Beale declared that a plaster mold discovered in 2004 is an authentic study of Degas’s celebrated sculpture Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans. As William D. Cohan of the Times describes, the ruling was a reversal of opinion for Beale, who had long doubted the plaster’s authenticity, and was vindication for the amateur collectors Lloyd and Renée Greif, who purchased the piece briefly after its discovery. The plaster, which is currently on display at the French Institute Alliance Française, is now a solid testament to the role that critical eyes play in conferring definite value upon art and artifacts.
“An Architect Who Built His Career on Resuscitating New York Landmarks”
David W. Dunlap
As “Innovation” takes its place as the capital-letter word in our culture and architectural design becomes increasingly unbound, preservation stands out as one of the few stop-gaps against directionless change. John Belle of Beyer Blinder Belle is among the small circle of New York–based architects to have made preservation his primary focus, with projects including the restoration of the terminal at Ellis Island in 1990, and Grand Central Terminal in 1998. David W. Dunlap of the Times quoted Belle’s website in his recent article on Belle’s career: “Preservation is one of the highest forms of good citizenship.” One imagines that Belle’s awareness of the importance of his work has motivated him to a level of diligence uncommon among the unmoored architects of today’s mainstream.