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The New Criterion

America’s leading review of the arts and intellectual life
- Harry Mount, the London Telegraph



In case you missed it

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Jul 03, 2015 08:55 AM

Death of the Virgin (ca. 1000)/ © Worcester Art Museum, all rights reserved.

Recent links of note:

British Museum’s ivory icons denied US entry for loan show
Victoria Stapley-Brown, The Art Newspaper
Not content to merely regulate the conservation of our nation’s streams and wetlands, the US Fish & Wildlife Service has gotten into the art game. The Service has blocked the importation of a set of Byzantine ivory pieces that were scheduled to appear as part of a show at the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Massachusetts. No reason has been given for the denial of the importation, though the Museum’s director suspects that it has to do with the “whole issue with elephant poaching.” Works dating to the medieval period are entangled with contemporary elephant poachers. Score one for the bureaucrats.

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Your chance to vote for Wonderland

by James Bowman

Posted: Jul 02, 2015 02:45 PM

Hilllary Clinton/ Courtesy of Manuel Balce Ceneta (AP)

Hillary Clinton came to Northern Virginia, where I live, the other day and addressed what The Washington Post described as “a crowd of several thousand Democrats” at George Mason University. “Several,” as we learned a few lines further down, meant two—although the Patriot Center where she spoke can hold ten. Thousands, that is. This is not a traditional meaning of the word “several,” but then the article’s author, Rachel Weiner, was obviously getting into the spirit of the occasion, which was decidedly anti-traditional.

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The Old "Way"

by Jane Balkoski

Posted: Jul 02, 2015 10:17 AM

Will Bradley and Robert Mammana

On Friday, the Supreme Court issued a ruling: gay marriage is now legal according to federal law. On Sunday, New York's Gay Pride Parade unfurled like a party horn, all bright and loud through the streets of Manhattan. Brands (like Jell-O and Coca-Cola and Google) have already issued promotional ads and logos. Everyone on Facebook now has a rainbow-tinted profile picture.

But at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in the West Village, The Twentieth-Century Way is a reminder of another time. The production's palette itself—brown, black, and beige—shuts out any hopeful, sunny hues: this is Long Beach in 1914, when a homosexual act was a crime. Two struggling actors, Warren (Robert Mammana) and Brown (Will Bradley) become "Vice Officers" to make a living. In brief, they seduce unsuspecting men, trap them in compromising circumstances, and then throw them in jail. Fifteen bucks a head. Of course, a tangle of affection and lust complicates the simple scenario: both men trip over their humanity.

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Life Lines at the Morgan

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Jul 01, 2015 10:15 AM

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Portrait of Adolphe-Marcellin DefresneGraphite on paper, 1825/ Courtesy of the Morgan Library & Museum. 

The portrait is meant to give us a direct line into the soul of its sitter, or at least we’re told. It’s meant to expose underlying truths about the subject, using physiognomy to express that which cannot be gleaned from the subject’s name alone.

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There are only a few hours left to support The New Criterion!

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Jun 30, 2015 11:55 AM

Tomorrow ends our fiscal year, and as excited as we are to wrap up an extremely successful thirty-third season and start our thirty-fourth, we need your help in ensuring that we can continue to bring the best in Western culture to you, our dedicated readers. Our continued vitality is thanks to generous readers and supporters like you and we are so grateful that you make it possible for us to engage in honest criticism and free debate, both of which are as essential now as they have ever been. As our fiscal year closes, we ask that you consider extending your generosity and supporting our cause. Whether you’re a first time reader or a long time supporter, please click here to make your gift in support of the best that our culture has to offer. All gifts are tax deductible and will be acknowledged in our yearly Friends Report if made by 5PM. With mere hours left, there’s no better time to give than now.

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The gift of James Horner

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Jun 29, 2015 10:37 AM

James Horner

There is a new CD called Pas de Deux, featuring a concerto by James Horner. I was going to review it. Then the composer died. He was killed last week when the plane he was piloting crashed. I decided not to review his music—for what if I didn’t like it?

Then I decided I would listen to it and write about it if I did, in fact, like it. I have now listened to it. I like it well enough. Anyway, I will write about it, with due respect.

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In case you missed it

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Jun 26, 2015 11:27 AM

Isamu Noguchi

Recent links of note:

‘Listening to Stone: The Art and Life of Isamu Noguchi’
James Panero, The New York Times Sunday Book Review
James Panero, our executive editor, lauds Hayden Herrera’s new biography of Isamu Noguchi, the famed Japanese-American sculptor whose eponymous museum sits in Long Island City. While many biographers oversaturate their work with needless minute details, Herrera succeeds in this “elegant account” by balancing “space and sparseness” with “matter and articulation.”

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Arising out of tragedy, a new theory of everything

by James Bowman

Posted: Jun 26, 2015 10:13 AM

Le Chevalier de Bayard

In physics, so they tell me, the great white intellectual whale which has so far eluded even the brightest minds is what they call the “unified field theory” which would account for discrete descriptions of physical phenomena—such as general relativity and quantum theory—relations between which remain largely undiscovered. If there are laws of ratiocination analogous to those of physics, one of them must be that this urge to intellectual simplification and unification is a constant of human thought. It’s a theory, anyway. It occurred to me on reading an article in The Washington Post, which I took to be a progressive attempt to develop a sort of unified field theory of those demon -isms:  sexism and racism — with colonialism thrown in for good measure.

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Appreciating the pressure cooker

by Lucia Ryan

Posted: Jun 25, 2015 03:28 PM

Stanford University

While the focus in public secondary education narrows on the common core curriculum and standardized testing, there remains a tier of prestigious independent schools and specialized public schools sending large percentages of their graduating classes to top-rated institutions each year, the reasons for which, aside from money, go widely unmentioned. This year, for the first time in its history, Stanford’s admission rate dipped to 5%. At no surprise to its applicant pool, the toxicity of the competition to be in that 5% was also at an all-time high. Such competitiveness and cutthroat drive has become ubiquitous in these high-performing schools, and perhaps seen as necessary in maintaining their ever-climbing standards. Having graduated from such a school, one that boasts a nearly 50% matriculation rate to Ivy League schools, Stanford, and MIT, I have observed the ways in which the stifling pressure to excel affects the students behind these numbers, and how they may emerge level-headed in spite of it.

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The New Criterion

About ArmaVirumque


( AHR-mah wih-ROOM-kweh)


In the Aeneid, the Roman poet Virgil sang of "arms and a man" (Arma virumque cano). Month in and month out, The New Criterion expounds with great clarity and wit on the art, culture, and political controversies of our times. With postings of reviews, essays, links, recs, and news, Armavirumque seeks to continue this mission in accordance with the timetable of the digital age.


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