This week: Historical preservation, classical reclamation & more.
Hitler and Film: The Führer’s Hidden Passion, by Bill Niven (Yale University Press): Much has been made of Adolf Hitler’s notorious involvement with architecture and art, which stemmed from aesthetic interest as well as a belief in their usefulness in enacting a cultural transformation conducive to his totalitarian project. The relation between Hitler and film, however, has been far less deeply explored. Hitler’s personal preferences for movies were not particularly well documented, and besides, the field of Nazi film studies tends to center the bulk of its attention on Joseph Goebbels and Leni Riefenstahl. Out recently from Yale University Press is a new book by Bill Niven, Hitler and Film: The Führer’s Hidden Passion, which aims to review comprehensively Hitler’s own relationship with the decidedly twentieth-century medium. Niven, a professor of contemporary German history at Nottingham Trent University, is an expert on the Nazi party’s adoption and weaponization of various artistic media as propaganda, and the book promises to shed new light on both the dictator himself and the greater role of film in the Second World War. —AS
“The Unbroken Line: Old and New Masters” at Robert Simon Fine Art (May 11–June 1): Stoked from the embers in ateliers and off-the-grid studios, painting’s classical revival—a rediscovery and return to traditional techniques—has been burning underground for decades. This week the “new masters” emerge to exhibit with the old in “The Unbroken Line,” at Robert Simon Fine Art on the Upper East Side. One of our best Old Master dealers, Robert Simon has a history of rediscovering lost masterpieces—he’s the one who first re-identified the Salvator Mundi as a work by Leonardo. Now working with the teachers and students of the Grand Central Atelier, the classical art school in Long Island City, he will exhibit a selection of Old Master work alongside paintings by Jacob Collins, Colleen Barry, Anthony Baus, Will St. John, Edward Minoff, and Justin Wood, among others. Opening reception this Thursday at 6 PM.—JP
Tchaikovsky and Elgar at the New York Philharmonic (May 10–12): Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto has been a personal favorite since the first time I heard it. Written in the summer of 1919, the piece is thought by many to have been Elgar’s artistic response to the war that had just ravaged Western Europe. It is one of the darkest works in the oeuvre of a composer largely known—and often slighted—for sentimental music; the Cello Concerto, by contrast, is an intense, brooding contemplation in E minor, opening with a cry of anguish and closing in a flash of rage. New York audiences can hear the concerto this week, performed by Jian Wang, with Nikolaj Znaider on the podium for the New York Philharmonic. Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1, “Winter Dreams,” rounds out the program. —ECS
Book reading: Laura Jacobs, Celestial Bodies: How to Look at Ballet, at The Corner Bookstore (May 8): Our dance critic Laura Jacobs is the best writer on ballet there is. So you can bet that her new book, Celestial Bodies: How to Look at Ballet, will be the best primer on ballet there is. With sparkling prose, Jacobs gives voice to the art that “will speak for itself. About itself,” as George Balanchine once declared. This Tuesday at 6 PM, at The Corner Bookstore, Jacobs will read from her new book in an event that is sure to inspire balletomanes and balletophobes in equal measure. —JP
“The Restoration of a Landmark,” with David F. Gibson, at the General Society Library (May 10): Just steps from the Morris Heights Metro-North Railroad station stands a curious structure that is more “Britain” than “Bronx.” The South Bronx Job Corp Center, which began its life as the Messiah Home for Children—built by Charles Brigham on land donated by H. H. Rogers, the Standard Oil mogul—is a Jacobethan fantasy: a red-brick and limestone pile sitting on the highest hill in the Bronx. A riot of gables, finials, pointed arches, and other architectural detailing, it is a grand expression of the late Gilded Age’s philanthropic drive. And now it has been returned to its original glory, thanks to David F. Gibson, an architect specializing in historic preservation and restoration. He will speak Wednesday at the General Society Library on his Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award–winning work on the building. —BR
From the archive:“What did Kierkegaard want?” by Roger Kimball (September 2001). Reflections on the philosopher, occasioned by the recent biography by Alastair Hannay.
From the current issue:“Cézanne portraits in Washington” by Karen Wilkin. On “Cézanne Portraits” at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
In the News: “Baltimore Museum makes room for paintings by black, female artists.” Elizabeth Llorente, Fox News.