This week: John McPhee, build your own art gallery, William F. Buckley & more from the world of culture.
The Patch, by John McPhee (Farrar, Straus and Giroux): John McPhee’s latest collection of essays, The Patch, begins, in classic McPhee fashion, with an extended discursion on the chain pickerel, an ugly and disreputable freshwater pike sometimes nicked by fly-fishermen from the rivers and creeks of the North American eastern seaboard. The ensuing paragraphs and essays, many of which focus on sport and sporting, are as much memoir as impersonal elocution, as McPhee draws upon family history and vignettes from his own past to fill out these ever-expanding compositions. Particularly enjoyable is the amusingly named “Phi Beta Football,” which recounts the sunset of the glory days for Princeton’s varsity squad, back when McPhee, an eight-year-old ballboy for the team (his father was the doctor and trainer), looked up to his gridiron heroes with equal parts adulation and curiosity. For more on the author, see Brooke Allen’s review of his 2017 book, Draft No. 4. —AS
“How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery,” at Yours Mine & Ours (November 29): How do you start and run a commercial art gallery? From the challenges presented by the art fairs and the auction houses, to the mega-dealers and the distracted collectors, the answer these days can confound just about everyone. The New York gallery owners Edward Winkleman and Patton Hindle share some thoughts in How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery. An updated second edition of this primer that launched a thousand white-cube spaces will be available for purchase at a book party this Thursday at 6 p.m. at the gallery Yours Mine & Ours. —JP
Open Studio: The Work of Robert A. M. Stern Architects, by Robert A. M. Stern, edited by Shannon Hohlbein & Peter Morris Dixon (The Monacelli Press): In Robert A. M. Stern’s introduction to a new book of his firm’s designs, he lays out what might be thought of as a credo for the venerable outfit known as RAMSA. “Wherever we work, context is paramount. It is our intention to modify, but not to disrupt, the physical or cultural conditions of the places in which we are asked to build. We prefer buildings that fit in even as they stand out—we reject bravura for its own sake.” How refreshing, how different from someone like the dread Corbusier, who maintained that the architect “pursues disinterested ideas; he does not wish to compromise himself in betrayals, in compromises.” While Corb’s ideas have caused untold misery for their inhabitants, Stern’s are the foundation of a practical and beautiful architecture—a humanistic one with an eye both for its surroundings and for the venerable past. Robert A. M. Stern Architects continues to produce buildings conscious of their place in the world. From the triumphant new residential colleges at Yale to two grand new condominium towers in New York—20 East End Avenue and 520 Park Avenue—bringing pre-war design to our blighted post-war streets, Stern and his team have transcended his postmodernist origins to arrive at a style both original and entirely in keeping with existing environments. Open Studio, out tomorrow from The Monacelli Press, is a celebration of decades of the firm’s designs, and the photograph-heavy book is sure to delight. —BR
“The Life of William F. Buckley,” panel discussion with National Review editor Rich Lowry at The King’s College (November 26): Ten years after the death of William F. Buckley Jr., the McCandlish Phillips Journalism Institute at The King’s College, New York, is hosting a discussion on the life and legacy of this founder of American conservatism. The “St. Paul of the conservative movement” brought a sense of unity and purpose to America’s political Right with the arrival of National Review in 1955. Buckley also published more than fifty books, hosted the TV show Firing Line, became friends with Reagan, and ran for New York City mayor (his characteristically witty response to a question about what he’d do if he won: “Demand a recount”). Buckley argued for a brand of “fusionist” conservatism that bears consideration today. Panelists include National Review editor Rich Lowry, Lauren Noble, Lawrence Perelman, and our own James Panero. Registration is free and includes a 6 p.m. reception and program at 7 p.m. It’s short notice, so check out the live stream if you can’t make it to The King’s College this evening. —HN
From the archive: “Puritanism with a human face,” by James Tuttleton (September 1989). A review of The Puritan Ordeal by Andrew Delbanco.
From the current issue: “Charterhouse of Bruges at the Frick,” by Karen Wilkin. On “The Charterhouse of Bruges: Jan van Eyck, Petrus Christus, and Jan Vos,” at The Frick Collection, New York.