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This week: Peppy preachers, towering heights, & Matisse’s American acolytes
Surge of Piety: Norman Vincent Peale and the Remaking of American Religious Life, by Christopher Lane (Yale University Press): In the 1950s, the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr predicted that the wave of popular psychology that flooded America after the war would reduce religion to just one more form of therapy. Surge of Piety, a new book by the English historian Christopher Lane, suggests that Niebuhr would have felt vindicated if he had lived just a couple of years longer—long enough to see the rise of a religious movement that placed “health and wealth” front and center. Lane’s book traces the roots of this trend to Norman Vincent Peale, the contemporary of Niebuhr whose 1952 bestseller The Power of Positive Thinking planted the seed for the sunnier style of Christianity that was adopted by televangelists and “megachurches” in in the 1970s. —MU
“Continuities in American Art 1908–1968” at the New York Studio School (November 30): “Matisse and American Art,” a major exhibition that will explore Matisse’s influence on American modernism, will open at the Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey, on February 5, 2017. In anticipation of the show, this Wednesday evening the New York Studio School will host the Montclair curator Gail Stavitsky in conversation with the art historian Bill Agee. Moderated by Alicia J. D. Cooper, the event called “Continuities in American Art 1908–1968” is part of the Studio School’s excellent, free Evening Lecture Series. —JP
La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera (Through January 14): Even the most jaded of Bohème-weary snobs has to confess a little excitement when the tragic classic comes back around with an all-star cast. Playing now at the Met is Franco Zeffirelli’s indefatigable 1981 production of the Puccini staple, with two bona fide superstars in the lead roles: the captivating Kristine Opolais, whose other Met credits this season include the title roles of Rusalka and Manon Lescaut, takes another turn as Mimì opposite the Rodolfo of the celebrated tenor Piotr Beczała. Marco Armiliato conducts. Catch this superb cast Tuesday or Saturday this week. —ECS
Curator’s tour of “Ten & Taller, 1874–1900” at the Skyscraper Museum (November 30): If you stand on the steps of the Custom House at the southern end of Broadway and begin to stroll northward, you’ll have taken a thorough tour of New York’s earliest high-rises by the time you reach Madison Square Park. “Ten & Taller,” which runs through next April at the Skyscraper Museum by Battery Park, condenses this experience into a single exhibition. Using archival photos and his own new data maps, the historian David Friedman has tracked every single building of ten or more floors that was erected in New York during the boom period of Gilded Age construction, 1874–1900. This Wednesday afternoon, Friedman will lead a tour of his exhibition at the Skyscraper Museum, guiding visitors through the period that started urban architecture’s rise toward today’s towering heights. —MU
From the archive: “Brutal blueprints,” by Anthony Daniels: On the architecture of Brasilia.
From the current issue: “Fugitive writer,” by Alexandra Mullen: A review of Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey by Frances Wilson.
Broadcast: The architect George Knight discusses his firm’s renovation of the Yale Center for British Art. From “The Future of Permanence in an Age of Ephemera,” a symposium on museums hosted by The New Criterion at the Consulate General of France on October 21, 2016. Presentations to be published in the December 2016 issue of The New Criterion.