• Aesthetics
  • A Resolute Materiality

    Jay Heikes, Ear of Dionysius, Collection Walker Art Center The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis will be mounting a show of paintings in February, their first group painting show in 10 years. Titled Painter Painter, the exhibit has been co-curated by Bartholomew Ryan and Eric Crosby. I was intrigued—and heartened—by their selection process, their view […]

  • Aesthetics
  • Zadie Smith

    We all have our heros, and Zadie Smith is one of mine. After reading her first novel, White Teeth (written at the age of 22 no less) in 2000, I was hooked. So of course I was in one of the front rows of very full auditorium at the MFA on Thursday night to hear […]

  • Aesthetics
  • Feeling the Undercurrent

    Charles Burchfield, “Moon and Thunderhead” There are many craftsmen who paint pleasantly the surface appearances and are very clever at it. There are always a few who get at and feel the undercurrent, and these simply use the surface appearances selecting them and using them as tools to express the undercurrent, the real life. If […]

  • Aesthetics
  • Saville Wisdom

    Jenny Saville, photographed in her Oxford studio, June 2012. (Photograph: Pal Hansen for the Observer) Some memorable quotes about Jenny Saville from an article in the Guardian last year, Jenny Saville: ‘I want to be a painter of modern life, and modern bodies’: *** Painting is my natural language. I feel in my own universe […]

  • Aesthetics
  • Ada Louise: Fierce Grace

    Ada Louise Huxtable photographed in the 1960s (Photo: Landmarks45.org) During my coming of age as an artist, Ada Louise Huxtable‘s architectural criticism informed so many of my ideas about buildings, cities, preservation, city life, aesthetics. One of the first books I read after moving to Manhattan in the early 70s was Will They Ever Finish […]

  • Art Making
  • Nowists United

    Joi Ito, my favorite nowist The selection of Joi Ito as Director of the MIT Media Lab in 2011 was a departure from the norm. A former nightclub DJ and college dropout turned venture capitalist, Ito is a selfmade entrepreneur, visionary, “adventure capitalist”, tech guru. In recent interviews, Ito has shared his approach to innovation […]

  • Books
  • Lovell’s Quiet Portrait of George Saunders

    George Saunders (Photo:Damon Winter/The New York Times) Joel Lovell has written the cover article for the Sunday New York Times Magazine about the writer George Saunders. Much more than just a portrait of Saunders—which is reason enough, certainly—Lovell’s article is full of interstitial wisdom, a handfull of small but meaningful vignettes, and a respectful generosity […]

  • Theater
  • That’s Extraordinary

    Rehearsing for Pippin at A.R.T. (Photo: Dina Rudick/Boston Globe) In my previous post I wrote about how surprising it was to find such striking beauty in the overstated, extremist interior of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia. It brings to mind one of my art professor’s words to me from so long ago, “To make a great painting […]

  • Aesthetics
  • Sagrada Familia

    The first time I went to Barcelona, Franco was still in power. Catalan, like the rest of Spain, was cautious and dark, well aware of the harsh boot of his repressive regime. That was 1970. My photos from that visit are buried in a box somewhere in my basement, but I remember making a pilgrimage […]