“Surely, goes the reasonable argument, an architect’s job is to provide a building that works, meets its brief, and is on time and on budget. It’s hard to argue otherwise, except that this reasoning would have strangled at birth many of the world’s greatest and most popular buildings: the Palace of Westminster, St Pancras station, the Sydney Opera House, the Pompidou Centre, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, most of the work of Antoni Gaudi.”
There are many things one might do while inside a room whose walls are lined with a historic Thomas Hart Benton mural: admire the artwork, contemplate it, take selfies with it. One should not use it as a surface to lean on while writing. Especially if you’re a state lawmaker.
Blake Bailey: “Vidal’s life was a tragedy whose great themes put one in mind of Citizen Kane: the story of an insatiable egoist who had everything and lost it. Standing on his balcony in Ravello, overlooking the gorgeous coast, a friend asked him what more he could possibly want out of life: ‘I want to make 200 million people change their minds,’ Vidal replied.”
“He saved even his old passports and used bullfight tickets, leaving behind one of the longest paper trails of any author. So how is it possible that ‘Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars,’ which opens on Friday at the Morgan Library & Museum, is the first major museum exhibition devoted to Hemingway and his work? It could be simply that no one thought of it before.”
We can blame sportswriters who weren’t above making up quotes for some of it, and we can blame Berra’s boyhood friend and former colleague, sportscaster Joe Garagiola, for spreading the image nationwide. But Berra – who was, among other things, a real shark at negotiating a contract – really did utter some of those famous lines, and he wasn’t above using them to his own advantage.
“In 1915, with the newly innovated film camera, a young Russian-born, French actor named Sacha Guitry captured some of France’s greatest artists and authors. His footage of Auguste Rodin, Claude Monet, Edgar Dégas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and other luminaries in their twilight years appeared in his first cinematic work, a 22-minute silent film called Ceux de Chez Nous (Those of Our Land).”
“[Adrian] Frutiger created some of the most widely used fonts of the 20th century, seen daily in airports, on street signs and in subway stations around the world. … Perhaps [his] most ubiquitous typeface is also the least obtrusive: OCR-B, the optical-character font he designed in 1968, adopted five years later as the world standard” – and now seen at the bottom of everyone’s bank checks.
“She caused a revolution by simply, sweetly, turning to spaces that other dance-makers don’t. But she also caused a revolution in the space of the human body. She rejected the pulled up stance of ballet and the inner torque of Martha Graham. She loved Merce Cunningham’s work but she had no wish for dancing bodies to be so upright. She was going for something else, something more yielding, more off-balance, a way for the energy to flow on unusual paths through the body.”
“Chaplin’s art overflowed the bounds of cinema and raised the tides of history; but Chaplin’s life also overflowed the bounds of law and norms and submerged those who stood in the path of his desires.” As the man himself wrote, “I have no morals in the sense that I abide with them in awe. I respect no book of rules for they have been written by someone else.”
“Sargent, said one of his biographers, was ‘at home everywhere, and belonged nowhere.’ Born in Florence to American parents in 1856, he grew up in Europe yet always considered himself American.” And by the time he settled in London in his thirties, he “seems to have known everyone.”
“His verse could be, by turns, intensely personal, or public-spirited, taking on the Vietnam War and a long list of social injustices, expressed in hot language. ‘This is fresh meat right mr nixon?’ begins one of his best-known poems, ‘In the Heart of the Beast,’ a response to the fatal shootings of student demonstrators at Kent State University in 1970.”
“His sharp wit could be cruel, but he was a television natural, a hugely readable television columnist, and an insightful – if sometimes harsh – critic.”
“Long before the emergence of the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ franchise, Ms. Collins dominated the publishing industry’s more lascivious corners. She wrote more than 30 books, many of them filled with explicit, unrestrained sexuality, and sold more than 500 million copies worldwide.”
“While the issue of producing evidence of the impact is complex and much debated, researchers and practitioners have focussed energies on collecting information that gives a convincing picture of the relationship between good quality arts and cultural activity and outcomes for older people, in terms of quality of life, better health and wellbeing.”
With dozens of recordings, the globally beloved Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve, his decades directing London’s Bach Choir (Britain’s most prominent large amateur chorus), and innumerable descants for church hymns, Willcocks was one of the most influential choral conductors of the 20th century.
The first of his 33 Broadway shows was the original Oklahoma!, he acted under directors Gower Champion and John Gielgud and opposite acting legends Vivien Leigh and Liv Ullmann, and he got a death threat for his performance as Richard Nixon in a Gore Vidal satire.
The 1964 Broadway hit won a Tony and a Pulitzer. “But for Mr. Gilroy, who wrote more than 30 other plays, Roses was his only major theatrical success. And while he wrote the screenplays for 10 feature films (some of which he also produced or directed); three novels; and scores of adventures, westerns and dramas in the golden age of television, none had the impact of his first and only Broadway hit.”
A source told Politico that the 63-year-old Isaacson – former chairman and CEO of CNN, former managing editor of Time, currently president of the Aspen Institute, and author of admired biographies of Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Kissinger, and Steve Jobs – was approached by the White House about the job and declined.
“People talk about confidence without ever bringing up hard work. That’s a mistake. I know I sound like some dour older spinster on Downton Abbey who has never felt a man’s touch and whose heart has turned to stone, but I don’t understand how you could have self-confidence if you don’t do the work.”
“Known for his astute casting and skillful work with actors,” Bernhard directed two Pultizer-winning plays – Paul Zindel’s The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1970) and Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart (1980) – and picked up a Tony for his 1978 production of Hugh Leonard’s Da.
“[It’s] different to being a famous rock star. With a writer, people bond to the books. Nobody wants my shoelaces. … One of the few privileges of being older is people put my bags on the overhead racks for me. It’s too hair-raising for them to watch me climb up on to the seat.”
“Host Alec Baldwin talks to Eric Shiner, director of The Andy Warhol Museum, about the hyper-inventive multimedia star, and learns about the surprisingly deep emotional basis for Warhol’s obsession with Campbell’s Soup.” (podcast)
Alison Gopnik: “Turning 50 and becoming bisexual and Buddhist did seem far too predictable – a sort of Berkeley bat mitzvah, a standard rite of passage for aging Jewish academic women in Northern California.” Then she discovered David Hume.
“It is not meant to be a popularity contest, nor does it necessarily purport to identify the best, most talented, most capable leaders. Power and influence (and the perception of where power and influence lie) are their own exclusive criteria for this list – and that is often, if not always, a judgment call.”
Russian cultural minister Vladimir Medinsky claimed that Americans have neglected the composer’s grave while attempting to “shamelessly privatize” his name. But Rachmaninoff’s descendants have balked at the idea of moving the body, pointing out that he died in the U.S. after spending decades outside of Russia in self-imposed political exile.
“Pascal Dufour, a lawyer whose family business goes back five generations, is being prosecuted for trying to sell the original manuscript of one of France’s best-known books, the Memoirs from Beyond the Tomb by Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand (1768-1848).”
“Established in 1989, the Praemium Imperiale recognizes achievements in five cultural categories: architecture, painting, sculpture, music and theater/film.”
“Willis, who died of lung cancer in 2006 at sixty-four, was one of the great public intellectuals of her generation. Read the latest anthology of her work, The Essential Ellen Willis (2014)—the posthumous anthology that won the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism this year—and you will see that she was virtually incapable of writing a poor sentence or conceiving an unsurprising insight. Her rigor was unmatched, her fearlessness an inspiration. In every piece, wit lilted like an aria over a basso continuo of moral seriousness.”
The death of Dutch novelist and columnist Joost Zwagerman, 51, “emerged on Tuesday evening when he failed to turn up for a radio interview to talk about his new book De stilte van het licht (The Silence of Light). Much of the music he had chosen for the programme was about death.”
“Perreault is best-known for being an early proponent of avant-garde movements like Minimalism, Land art, and Pattern and Decoration during the late 1960s and the ’70s. … He also had an eye for artists who would ultimately become canonical. As a result, he achieved a following from artists, critics, curators, and readers of all kinds.”