On fake art movements, Lolita’s crimes, Walter Laqueur & more.
Recent links of note:
“The Hoax Art Movement That Fooled the Art World Establishment”
Rachel Gould, Artsy
Pavel Jerdanowitch, the visionary Russian artist who founded the Disumbrationist School—wait, scratch that. Jerdanowitch was the pseudonym of the Los Angeles–based literary scholar Paul Jordan-Smith, who by 1924 was fed up with the “contradictory explanations” of modernist art. So he turned artist himself, creating a false persona and painting his first work, Yes, We Have No Bananas, which was received with critical acclaim. Six more works followed, but eventually his conscience caught up; he confessed to the ruse three years later and eventually began calling his small artistic oeuvre The Seven Deadly Sins. But Jordan-Smith’s reactionary art was more mainstream than he thought. Gould compares the Deadly Sins to Dada art, a movement that, similarly to Jordan-Smith’s satire, “began in disgust.”
“Vladimir Nabokov’s Other Favorite Crime”
Sarah Weinman, Longreads
It is perhaps not surprising that Vladimir Nabokov took his inspiration for Lolita from crime coverage in the newspaper. Sarah Weinman investigates two real-life crimes that Nabokov not only wove into the novel’s plot, but also referenced directly. The first is better known (though it is only mentioned in a single parenthetical): the 1948 kidnapping of the teenage Sally Horner was the model for the central character, Dorothy Haze. But Nabokov devotes more space to the second in his novel. In Chapter 33, Humbert Humbert visits the grave of Edward Grammar (Grammer in real life—incidentally, also the last man to be executed by hanging in Maryland), who in 1952 murdered his wife of thirteen years in order to marry his mistress. The parallels to Humbert’s marriage to Dorothy’s mother, Charlotte, are clear: Humbert reflects on the “almost-perfect crime,” saying, “I did better.”
“Setting My Compass by Walter Laqueur, 1921–2018”
Fred Siegel, Tablet
The historian and journalist Walter Laqueur, who died Sunday, escaped Nazi Germany for Israel in 1939. This experience fired many of his intellectual pursuits. Laqueur’s wide-ranging work included histories of Allied responses to Nazism, Zionism, and terrorism, along with a Holocaust encyclopedia. He also served as the director of the Wiener Library for the Study of Holocaust and Genocide in London and the founder and editor of The Journal of Contemporary History and Survey: A Journal of East & West Studies. Read an appreciation of the now-defunct Survey from The New Criterion.
From our pages:
Romare Bearden, collage conjurer
J. Howard Rosier
From our editors:
The glory that was the Low Countries, the disaster that is the European Union
Benjamin Riley, Spectator USA
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