Category Archives: Art and design

Stone carving jobs for youth

National Public Radio reported three years ago that the need for stone carvers to help restore the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, in Paris, following its fire in 2019, has caused schools teaching that craft to mushroom in France. These young people … Continue reading

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Van Gogh, boring fr. within

This past weekend we took in the Van Gogh exhibit, called “Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience,” that has taken the country by storm these last few months. Van Gogh isn’t quite my cup of tea, but I was prepared … Continue reading

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The joy of hating modernism

My favorite writer of all time is William Hazlitt, the British essayist of the early 19th century and contemporary of Charles Lamb and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He was considered a “good hater” (or maybe it was “a good damner”) and … Continue reading

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Atlantis: Krier’s ideal village

In February, the architect and urban theorist Léon Krier, famed for planning Prince Charles’s new town of Poundbury, sent me a video about his proposed academic village on a hillside at the island, off of North Africa, of Tenerife, long … Continue reading

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Garden of House of Mirth

My last quotation from Edith Wharton’s 1905 novel The House of Mirth offered one minor character’s thoughts on several fancy row houses of Fifth Avenue, including one or two owned by families friendly to Mr. Van Alstyne and his partner … Continue reading

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William Blackstone’s statue

William Blackstone, or Blaxton (1595-1675), has long struck me as the mildest of colonists, perhaps not even a colonist strictly speaking. He was a recluse, and when other colonists showed up, he exited stage left. An ordained priest of the … Continue reading

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Blake on Corbu’s “furniture”

Peter Blake, modernist architect, critic and (eventually) apostate, writes about “functional” modernist furniture in his book Le Corbusier: Architecture and Form (1960), which I’m reading as a sort of launching pad to his book Form Follows Fiasco (the best book … Continue reading

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Review: “Pollak’s Arm”

Pollak’s Arm, a historical novel by Hans von Trotha, is not about Pollak’s arm but about the arm his protagonist, art collector Ludwig Pollak, found, which had been missing for centuries from the shoulder of Laocoön (pronounced lay-o-coo-on), the central … Continue reading

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The architecture of ballet

On Father’s Day we took in “Emergence,” a maskless program by Festival Ballet Providence celebrating the ongoing state of unlockingdown in which American society, at long last, finds itself. It was an excellent show. To my mind, the spare setting … Continue reading

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Bad language/bad buildings

There is a difference between language and architecture. Language, to riff off the saying attributed to Talleyrand, aims to disguise the absence of thought; whereas architecture aims to express the thoughtlessness of fatuous design. The critic Theodore Dalrymple, a retired … Continue reading

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