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The New Criterion

Quite simply, the best cultural review in the world
- John O’Sullivan



In case you missed it

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Sep 25, 2015 12:58 PM

Eustache Le Sueur, Caligula Depositing the Ashes of his Mother and Brother in the Tomb of his Ancestors, 1647/ Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015


Recent links of note:

Beneath Chicago’s Gloss
Aaron Renn, City Journal
Walk around downtown Chicago, the gleaming lake on one side and stunning skyscrapers on the other, and one is likely to think he stands in a city that has got it all figured out. If only that were the case. Behind Chicago’s luminous façade is a city in turmoil facing a massive budget shortfall and turning to increasingly baroque financial maneuvers to attempt to overcome the lingering issues. This week Aaron Renn explores how the city and state of Illinois have gotten the economics of the city so wrong, concluding that continual buck-passing and the abeyance of responsibility are to blame.

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Intro to Luto

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Sep 24, 2015 01:45 PM

The composer, Witold Lutoslawski, via


Witold Lutoslawski, the Polish composer, lived from 1913 to 1994. In other words, he was born just before World War I and died three years after the collapse of the Soviet empire. Comes now a CD comprising two of his works: the Piano Concerto and the Symphony No. 2.

The concerto is one of the more popular piano concertos in the modern repertory. You may say that this is not a large claim. You would be right. In any event, Leif Ove Andsnes played this work with the New York Philharmonic in the 2001–02 season. In my “New York Chronicle” for the magazine, I said, “The Lutoslawski is a clever and exciting work,” which may well be “here to stay.”

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A new low in the climate debate

by Bruce Everett

Posted: Sep 24, 2015 09:00 AM

Professor Snyder's latest book, via

It’s de rigueur on college campuses to pledge allegiance to the climate agenda, denouncing Luddites who impede progress on the climate policies that all right-thinking people support. Those of us who work in academia are used to this ritual, but every once in a while an academic decides to distinguish himself by making his denunciation louder and more strident than the rest of the crowd. A good example is the Yale Professor Timothy Snyder’s op-ed “The Next Genocide” in the September 13th edition of The New York Times. Prof. Snyder compares those who disagree with him on climate change to a Nazi Einsatzgruppe commander slaughtering a Jewish baby. The appropriate reaction to this metaphor is an eye roll, but Professor Snyder’s vicious diatribe has some utility, since it incorporates all the basic climate change fallacies in one neat, nasty package. A refutation is in order.

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A "mere whiff of turpentine"

by Daniel Grant

Posted: Sep 23, 2015 10:21 AM

Paul Klee, Greek and two Barbarians, 1920. An example of "entartete Kunst" from the Gurlitt Collection via.


These days, the subject of art comes up more often in the context of law-breaking than any other time, save for (perhaps) the subject of art as investment. From the destruction of ancient artifacts in the Middle East by the so-called Islamic State (crimes against humanity?), to art thefts as leverage to bargain down criminal charges, to fakes, copyright infringement, frauds by art dealers, lawsuits (by collectors against dealers, by collectors against auction houses, by artists against dealers and dealers against artists), and the ongoing headache of sorting out what is called Holocaust art, we now associate art not with aspirations toward a higher understanding of life or the world, but with sordid activities and disreputable people. Wickedness and money is an easier topic for most of us than art itself, and more delicious, which probably explains why Dante’s Inferno has far more readers than his Paradiso.

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Listen to Eric Simpson and Jay Nordlinger's Classical Music Season Preview

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Sep 22, 2015 02:54 PM

With last night marking opening night at the Met, the start of the fall music season is finally upon us.

No one is more excited than our assistant editor Eric Simpson, who last week sat down with our music critic Jay Nordlinger to discuss the impending season. Listen below or head over to our SoundCloud page to hear their recommendations for what to see this autumn.


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The Critic's Notebook for September 21, 2015

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Sep 22, 2015 10:18 AM

Pablo Picasso, Bull. Cannes, c. 1958. Plywood, tree branch, nails, and screws, 46 1/8 x 56 3/4 x 4 1/8″ (117.2 x 144.1 x 10.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Jacqueline Picasso in honor of the Museum’s continuous commitment to Pablo Picasso’s art. © 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Sign up to receive “Critic's Notebook” in your inbox every week—it only takes a few seconds and it's completely free! “Critic's Notebook” is a weekly preview of the best to read, see, and hear in New York and beyond, compiled by the editors of The New Criterion.

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Two of a kind

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Sep 21, 2015 03:11 PM

A few years ago, I basically stopped reviewing Joyce DiDonato. Some other critics have done the same. You find yourself saying “Great,” “Great,” “Not as great as usual, but still great,” “Great” . . .

The mezzo-soprano from Kansas is an extraordinary combination of voice, technique, head, and heart.

I will not quite review her latest CD, but I will write about it a little. It’s called Joyce & Tony, Live at Wigmore Hall. Tony is Sir Antonio Pappano, the music director of the Royal Opera House. Wigmore Hall, or “the Wigmore Hall,” as Brits tend to say, is a hallowed venue in London. It’s especially prized for chamber music and recitals. DiDonato and Pappano performed there in September 2014.

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Authentic trumps rude

by James Bowman

Posted: Sep 21, 2015 10:27 AM

Donald Trump's Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame via


The invitation list to the White House for the welcoming ceremony ostensibly in honor of the Pope’s visit to America this week is yet another example, if one were needed, of the breakdown of civility in America. Or rather, it was not so much the invitations to avowed opponents of the Church’s doctrine and teachings as the assumption on President Obama’s part that neither he nor his party would pay any political price for such rudeness to a guest and a respected figure in an even more respected office who is also a foreign head of state. One must suppose him right in this assumption, too, in the absence of any reproof to his bad manners from anyone not already numbered among the President’s political enemies. The Vatican itself, though unofficially and anonymously expressing a certain chagrin at the Pope’s treatment, has not so far shown any disposition to lodge an official protest.

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In case you missed it

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Sep 18, 2015 09:15 AM

Jeremy Corbyn, in a drawing from Standpoint, via

Recent links of note:

Why I’ve finally given up on the Left
Nick Cohen, The Spectator
How to understand the seemingly inexplicable rise of Leftist bogeyman Jeremy “Jez” Corbyn? More on that from Jeremy Black in a forthcoming issue of The New Criterion. In the meantime, Nick Cohen writes why he’s now, finally, done with the Left. As Cohen puts it, “Jeremy Corbyn did not become Labour leader because his friends in the Socialist Workers party organised a Leninist coup . . . He won with the hearty and freely given support of ‘decent’ Labour members.” When the Left supports “movements it would once have denounced as racist, imperialist and fascistic,” it’s high time to cut and run. Welcome aboard the good ship, Nick.

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"Folk Art and American Modernism" at the American Folk Art Museum

by Carina Hahn

Posted: Sep 17, 2015 11:51 AM

Bernard Karfiol (1886–1952), Making Music, Ogunquit, Maine, 1938, oil on canvas, 32 x 40″, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, promised gift of Bunty and Tom Armstrong, 2000.TA.1 (L). Ex coll. Robert Laurent, Edith Halpert.


For an exhibit entitled “Folk Art and American Modernism,” one would expect a strong emphasis on both folk art and modernism. The declared purpose of Elizabeth Stillinger and Ruth Wolfe, the co-curators of the exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum, is to show that the featured collectors and artists “led their generation in preserving a continuous American artistic tradition of which they considered themselves a living part.” Given the curators’ intention, one would expect ample modernist pieces demonstrating an appreciable influence of folk art on modernism. Such examples are lacking. In fact, there are few modernist pieces at all.

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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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