Sign in  |  Register

The New Criterion

It operates as a refuge for a civilizing element in short supply in contemporary America: honest criticism
- The Wall Street Journal



In Case You Missed It

by Christine Emba

Posted: Dec 19, 2014 03:22 PM

Window in Chartres Cathedral, dedicated to the Life and Miracles of St. Nicholas

Recent links of note:

A Scandalous Makeover at Chartres
Martin Filler, New York Review of Books
Does the famous cathedral need a garish facelift? The French Ministry of Culture seems to think so.

Rejecting the "BuzzFeed" Model
Gracy Olmstead, The American Conservative
“By encouraging this atmosphere in the news, we feed people’s cravings for the silly, the crass, and the thoughtless—and the more we feed those inclinations, the less we cultivate an appreciation for the nuanced, the thoughtful, and the serious.”

Read more

Is a Palestinian State Next?

by James Piereson

Posted: Dec 19, 2014 11:03 AM

President Obama surprised most everyone with his decision to accord diplomatic recognition to Cuba and propose lifting the economic embargo on the communist state, which dates back to 1959.  Many observers felt that the United States would wait until the Castro brothers were out or dead before extending diplomatic recognition.  On the other hand, the move should not have come as such a surprise, since American leftists have been campaigning for decades against the embargo, particularly since the Castro regime lost the patronage of the Soviet Union in the 1980s.  In their eyes, Cuba is a poor and backward country not because of the policies of the Castro government but because the cruel capitalists in America have closed their import markets to Cuban sugar.  In addition, Barack Obama has made it a point to govern from the far left and to seize every opportunity he can find to stick his finger in the eye of the American right.  In that regard, the recognition of Cuba was a "twofer:" he delighted the left and outraged the right. Those were the basic calculations behind the decision, not that the policy was outdated, or that recognition and trade will bring any benefits to the United States, or that they will bring political and economic reform to Cuba.  The decision brings benefits to the two governments now in power, but to hardly anyone else. 

Read more

In Review: “Make a Joyful Noise”: Renaissance Art and Music in Florence Cathedral

by Leann Davis Alspaugh

Posted: Dec 18, 2014 12:57 PM

Trumpeters and Young Girls Dancing, 1431-1438. Images via

The consecration of Florence’s Santa Maria del Fiore on March 25, 1436, must have been, even by Renaissance standards, a day of unrivalled spectacle and splendor. The jeweled vestments of Pope Eugene IV dazzled alongside the glittering garments of the Medici retinue. Brunelleschi’s dome resounded with polyphony by Guillaume Du Fay and the inimitable organ improvisations of maestro Antonio Squarcialupi. The maestro would have had his choice of grand instruments: the one above the south sacristy door housed in a marble loft decorated by Donatello or the one in the north sacristy decorated by Luca della Robbia. Three of the latter’s marble panels form the core of “Make a Joyful Noise,” a small exhibition of pieces traveling during a renovation of the cathedral museum.

Read more

In Review: Egon Schiele at the Neue Galerie

by Michael Pepi

Posted: Dec 16, 2014 04:04 PM

Self-Portrait with Peacock Waistcoat, Standing (1911)

Egon Schiele’s brief but prolific life followed a modernist arc we know all too well. The precocious adolescent enrolls in an academy, only to revolt against its conservative traditions. After becoming a protégé to a contemporary master (Gustav Klimt), he soon forms a splinter group with like-minded cronies. Steadily shocking the establishment with a bohemian lifestyle and indecent pictures, he befriends an influential critic who connects him with prominent collectors. Rising out of a truly revolutionary milieu around Austria’s cultural capital, he was called to served in World War I, just as he began to show in earnest around Europe. He accepted an invitation to join the Vienna Secession (and organize its forty-ninth exhibition). Fitting with Schiele’s grandiose self-image, this whirlwind of activity occurred in all of about ten years. Schiele was dead at age twenty-eight, succumbing in 1918 to the spanish influenza that killed his second wife days before. 

Read more

In Review: Germany: Memories of a nation at the British Museum

by Christie Davies

Posted: Dec 15, 2014 04:18 PM

The Strasbourg clock, Isaac Habrecht, 1589

The British, like the Americans, know a great deal about German history—all twelve years of it. The objects assembled at the British Museum, many of which are of considerable artistic merit, bring home to visitors how very narrow their knowledge is.  The exhibition begins with pieces from the glorious reunification of Germany in 1989, and indicates how very fragmented the country has been for most of its history.  In 1700, Britain had a single currency, but Germany had close to 200, with every local ruler—from the great electors and the imperial princes to individual dukes, counts, margraves, bishops, cities and abbeys—issuing its own coinage. It is perhaps ironic that now most of Europe except Britain has one single currency, and it is controlled by Germany, the economic master of the Eurozone.

Read more

The torture report as the ultimate harvest of media bias

by James Bowman

Posted: Dec 12, 2014 04:46 PM

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty

As Charles Lane points out in today’s Washington Post, the biggest of the many problems that the Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture revealed about American security services may be the one that hardly anyone is talking about: namely, that security itself has become irrevocably politicized. The CIA, I fear, cannot avoid its share of blame for this, in view of its own history of leaking and briefing against elected authority during the Bush years. But the biggest share of the blame must accrue to the Senate Democrats who have allowed themselves to become captives of the anti-American left. They in turn are egged on by the media, whom the Democrats know they can trust not to moderate their treatment of the report as a scandal by any mention of the partisan nature of the conclusions drawn. Now we know that there is nothing in our public life, not even national security, that can be treated as being above partisanship.

Read more

Once more, with feeling: Yuja does Carnegie

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Dec 12, 2014 02:53 PM

Yuja Wang

It was late: 8:15. Yuja Wang’s recital at Carnegie Hall was supposed to start at 8—which in New York concert terms means 8:05. Was the young Chinese pianist fashionably late or more like strangely late, or rudely late?

She certainly had a great program to play. It would begin with Schubert songs, arranged by Liszt. Then move to one of Schubert’s late, great sonatas: the one in A major, D. 959.

After intermission, we could get a slew of Scriabin pieces, ending with the “Black Mass” Sonata. To close the program—printed program (not taking encores into account)—would be Balakirev’s delightful, fiendish warhorse, Islamey.

Read more

A Romantic spirit, with fabulous fingers

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Dec 10, 2014 12:28 PM

Daniil Trifonov

As the lights dimmed last night, I was talking to a pair of musician friends sitting in front of me. “We’ve never heard him play,” they said. I replied, “He makes beautiful sounds, especially when quiet. He is subtle, nuanced—a colorist and caresser. Where he has trouble is in making a big, substantial sound. He is not very bold.”

About three seconds after that, he began the evening with a crashing G-minor chord. And was plenty bold after that. Never have I been contradicted—shown up—so quickly.

Read more

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.


Follow us on Twitter:




To contact The New Criterion by email, write to:



Subscribe to our newsletter!

* indicates required