This week: A collection bequest, London congest & more.
Outskirts: Living Life on the Edge of the Green Belt, by John Grindrod (Sceptre): London’s Metropolitan Green Belt is little understood. Celebrated by enviro-crusaders as a leafy bulwark against destructive development, and vilified by politicians and builders who see a wasted opportunity to build new houses, the Green Belt is hardly monolithic. Encompassing actual green spaces and decaying industrial parks, its name belies its actuality. What Ian Nairn said about it in 1960 remains true: the Green Belt is a “tourniquet which stops the bleeding but doesn’t heal the wound.” As British politicians again consider opening up the Green Belt to development in an effort to create more housing in a metropolitan area that desperately needs it, John Grindrod’s new book Outskirts: Living Life on the Edge of the Green Belt offers a welcome history of the Belt, as well as personal reflections on his upbringing on the edge of it.—BR
“New Terrains: American Paintings from the Richard M. Scaife Bequest” at the Brandywine River Museum of Art (through September 10, 2017): As the must-see Andrew Wyeth retrospective enters its final weeks at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, a collection exhibition is also on view that shouldn’t be missed. “New Terrains: American Paintings from the Richard M. Scaife Bequest” presents a selection of work from the philanthropist’s 2014 donation that focuses on American landscape in the later nineteenth and early twentieth century. Highlights include American Impressionists such as Theodore Robinson and Martin Johnson Heade’s stunning Luminist sunset “New Jersey Salt Marsh.”—JP
Album release: Evgeny Kissin plays Beethoven, via Deutsche Grammophon: In many people’s minds, Evgeny Kissin will always be the twenty-something Wunderkind who made a sensational Carnegie Hall debut in 1990 with a flashy program of Schumann and Liszt. Twenty years on, there’s still a youthful vigor about his playing, even when he takes on a more intellectually substantial repertoire. This week, I’ve got my eye on a new release from Deutsche Grammophon: an all-Beethoven album that features the thirty-two variations in C minor alongside the piano sonatas nos. 3, 14, 23, 26, and 32. Having heard his “Appassionata” in person, I can promise you’ll be hard pressed to find such a potent combination of cerebral musicianship and raw energy.—ECS
Moscow Vanguard Art: 1922–1992,by Margarita Tupitsyn (Yale University Press): Though the bureaucratic forces of art censorship in the Soviet Union were consistently powerful from the point of its unification in 1922 to its dissolution in 1992, the actual history of art produced in these seventy years is anything but simple. In the first ten years of the USSR’s existence, Russian abstract avant-garde continued to flourish, if in a politically restricted manner. After 1932, when Stalin established Socialist realism as the State-required aesthetic mode of painters and sculptors, artists continued to develop abstraction and other forms of “decadent” art underground. Public display of this usually clandestine work often resulted in dramatic censorship, such as the infamous “Bulldozer Exhibition” in Belyaevo in 1974 (within hours of its opening, police operating dump trucks, bulldozers, and water cannons demolished this small exhibition and physically beat its attendees). Charting this fascinating history in Moscow Vanguard Art: 1922–1992—released this week by Yale University Press—is Margarita Tupitsyn, who accomplishes the impressive task of bringing these complex seventy years into a single, enlightening volume.—AS
From the archive: “The gifts of Stuart Davis” by James Panero (September 2016). On “Stuart Davis: In Full Swing” at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
From the current issue:“A higher education” by Justin Zaremby. On seventy years of Directed Studies at Yale.