As a painter, sculptor, inventor, and naturalist (among other things), the breadth of Leonardo da Vinci’s work is legendary and at times overwhelming. Artists and laymen alike remain fascinated by the original Renaissance man: students could spend lifetimes studying the thousands of drawings he left behind without fully understanding how the different strands of his genius wove together.
Luckily, visitors to the Morgan Museum and Library have the opportunity to undertake a more focused exploration. “Leonardo da Vinci: Treasures from the Biblioteca Reale, Turin” features a small but captivating group of eighteen works by the Florentine master and his followers, many of which are on rare loan from Italy. Organized by Per Rumberg, associate curator of drawings at the museum, the exhibition is meant to give a closer look at two ultimately inseparable sides of Leonardo: the scientist and the artist. And indeed, entering the darkened gallery on the Morgan’s second floor feels rather like being invited into Leonardo’s own mind.
by James Bowman
According to The Independent of London, a study by Professor Piercarlo Valdesolo of Claremont McKenna College in the journal Psychological Science has shown that religious belief begins with awe inspired not by the supernatural but by the natural world. “It’s not that the presence of the supernatural elicits awe, it’s that awe elicits the perception of the presence of the supernatural.” I don’t know that this supposedly scientific view is any more flattering to religious belief than the opposite one, but I thought of it on reading a tribute in The Daily Telegraph by Gerry De Groot to the English county of Northumberland which is trying to cut down on light pollution in order to give its inhabitants — and others in search of increasingly hard-to-find darkness — a more awe-inspiring view of the night sky.
This week: Lectures on Camus & Coleridge, a new Beethoven biography & a modern take on traditional Chinese art.
David Zinman; photo courtesy davidzinman.com
Thomas Adès, the British composer, seems to have reached the stage where, whatever he writes, someone will program it. That’s stardom. Last Thursday, the New York Philharmonic opened a concert with his Three Studies from Couperin, a work he composed for chamber orchestra in 2006. What he has done is arrange three harpsichord pieces by that French Baroque master. The evening’s program notes quoted him as saying, “My ideal day would be staying home and playing the harpsichord works of Couperin—new inspiration on every page.”
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by James Panero
Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive
We think a lot about the future of libraries here at The New Criterion. This month in our special art issue, be sure to take a look at "Philanthropic tyranny at the NYPL," Michael J. Lewis's feature on the New York Public Library's Central Library Plan.
This week: Burke vs. Paine, an art bacchanal in Miami, and performances by Sirs Ian McKellen & Patrick Stewart.
Alice Coote, Martina Serafin, and Peter Rose in Der Rosenkavalier; Jonathan Tichler/Metropolitan Opera
How do you want your prelude to Der Rosenkavalier? Well, you want it burbling, gay, swirling, giddy—maybe sex-drenched. In any event, a Rosenkavalier needs to have liftoff. And last Monday at the Metropolitan Opera, it did not. Edward Gardner, an English conductor, was in the pit, and the prelude in his hands had little effect. The orchestra sounded weak, without heft. That is not the Met orchestra, as you may know.
by James Bowman
Listening to Rush Limbaugh last week, I was struck by the caller who told El Rushbo that, up until the moment of her call, she had never been able to bring herself to reveal to a pollster her disapproval of President Obama for fear of being thought — by the pollster! — a racist. Now that so many others were expressing such disapproval on account of the Obamacare fiasco, she said, she feels safer in stating what has all along been her true opinion. I guess she figured the pollster would be less censorious if he reflected that not everybody now expressing a negative view of the President could be a racist.
Myron Magnet; photo: Kevin Daley, National Parks of New York Harbor
A week and a half ago, there was a luncheon featuring Myron Magnet at the Yale Club in New York City. It was hosted by the Manhattan Institute and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The occasion was the launch of Magnet’s book The Founders at Home: The Building of America, 1735-1817. The author gave a superb and multifaceted speech on his subject. It was followed by an equally good Q&A—questions from the audience, answers from Magnet.
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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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December 19, 2013
FRIENDS, YOUNG FRIENDS, AND AUTHORS EVENT: Holiday Party 2013
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