Martin Luther’s Burning Questions

NY Review

I wasn’t interested in this article at first – but after retrieving it from the trash, and reading it more carefully – I did become interested in it.

I probably would not have liked the man, if I had known him. But he would not have cared in the least – he was only interested in righteousness – something I have to admire. Although he was also interested in the beer and pigs that his wife furnished him (along with six children of his own, and four orphans).

One thing I miss, living in Costa Rica, is its lack of Art exhibitions. Ticos have embraced American popular culture enthusiastically. But Art exhibitions, such as the ones reviewed here, never make it this far south.

I have to be contented with reading the Review – that is flown to me from Miami.


Picabia’s Big Moment

New York Review

Francis Picabia: <i>Femmes au bull-dog (Women with Bulldog)</i>, 41 3/4 x 29 15/16 inches, circa 1941
Francis Picabia: Femmes au bull-dog (Women with Bulldog), 41 3/4 x 29 15/16 inches, circa 1941

This is about Art – if you haven’t guessed already.

This was intended to be a snide comment on our consumption of pornography.

My mother would not have approved.

The Human Body, and It’s Susceptibility to Systems of Control

I got this phrase from Soft City – a book you really must have, dear reader.

The author, a graphic artist, who overdosed on practically all the drugs in the Sixties – I’m sure you had a few of those yourself – barely survived to create this.

It’s a crude oversimplification of life back then – but who can remember that far back?

It now resembles China, with its blocks of high-rise apartment buildings, full of peasants, forcefully relocated from the countryside – and forbidden to think for themselves.

Sylvia Guillem: Portrait

This is a movie about a ballet star. I am not too fond of ballet, but this has some advanced choreography – where the dancer performs with a chair! And expresses some primitive emotions – not just the usual stylized stuff.

Sylvie is up to the job. She is British, sometimes to the distress of the Brits – who want their stars to be more feminine – whatever that is.

Agnes De Mille’s Artistic Justice

NewYorker Magazine

I once lived in Manhattan – in fact Beth and I got married there – way back in 1965. We had a good time spending my money, doing all the fun things – even going to Dance performances. I cannot believe how expensive it is to live there now.

This bio of Agnes De Mille shows how active she was on both coasts – including Hollywood, which was more receptive to her style – and where her choreography still exists in film musicals, such as Oklahoma! – which is about as far as the real Oklahoma as you can get.

Back in those innocent days, we could still believe that world was just around the corner.

A Culture Not Interested in Painting

This was the Midwestern culture in general – a vast stretch of land ranging from the Alleghenies in the east to the Rockies in the west, with some overlap into the lands just west of the Rockies, such as Utah and Idaho – Mormon country.

The Mormons had been Midwestern ever since they left Upstate New York for Ohio, right after they were founded. And my family were Missouri Mormons – as Midwestern as they could possibly get. I went to a church college where I sang in the Chapel Choir – we liked classical music, and were familiar with it. But there was not a single painting on the walls. Or any other kind of artwork, that I can remember.

Like the Puritans, we considered anything beautiful to be sinful.

I recently purchased Manet Paints Monet about the Impressionists – because, that was the only school of painting I was familiar with, and like everyone else, I liked their painting instinctively. The Wikipedia entry for Impressionism contains some fine examples of their art.

Thrall Poems

This is a review of Thrall: Poems by Natasha Trethewey. Who was the product of a mixed marriage – a white father and a black mother – in the state of Mississippi.

This was not a happy family – in fact it was a terrible family, even by American standards. And her poetry makes this abundantly clear. When she wrote this, she got even with her father – and then some.

Since she is now the Poet Laureate of America, she can indulge in a personal vendetta against her Dad. And this book should be seen as that.

She refers to many works of art that dramatize racial conflict (that are in thrall to it) – but only one is shown – on the cover of the book. Her descriptions of these made my blood run cold – and the book should have included this artwork.

She also makes it clear that some Latinos (Mexicans, for example) are even more racially bigoted than Americans are.

This used to be the case in Costa Rica, where I live. Blacks on the Caribbean coast (who spoke English) were forbidden to move to the interior of the country – where everyone else lived, and where there were more jobs. This has since ended – and many Ticos (especially sports stars) are now black (but speak Spanish only).