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Rory’s Story

It is an unusually warm morning in San Francisco. My parents are sitting on the back porch reading the paper, sipping coffee. Suddenly, there is the sound of broken glass as I come flying through the window behind them. A surreal moment—it’s difficult to tell who is more stunned, my parents or I.

While nearly the entire window is gone, I have only minor cuts. The one who will suffer as a result of this outburst is my younger brother, Rory, who pushed me.

A Berlin Epiphany

And now, there it came looming into view: an austere block-wide low-slung hive of graphite-gray monoliths: monoface rectangular plinths arrayed in a regular perpendicular grid over gently undulating terrain—more than three thousand of them spread across nearly five acres, some (near the perimeter) as low as a foot and a half, some farther into the hive (where the terrain fell away into some of its deeper undulations) as high as ten feet, the entire expanse crisscrossed by narrow paths between the parallel rows of vaguely pitched concrete plinths, paths that veritably beckoned those above on the busy city sidewalks into this uncanny maze of vaguely determinate remembrance.


Turnings and Returnings: The Art of Jake Berthot

Instead of the viewer’s gaze skimming off the surface like a skipped stone as in so much contemporary painting, Jake Berthot’s paintings hold you—stop you and engage you, stir you and disturb you. When you stand in front of one of Berthot’s recent paintings, you immediately become aware of depths in the painting and you are drawn out into them, feel some part of yourself emptying into them. But then the mysterious mutuality of reverie takes hold: into your newly created emptiness, something flows from the painting. And gradually, steadily, the experience of gazing at the canvas becomes a reciprocal emptying-out and filling, an ebb and flow. Depth speaks to depth. And when at last, after successive, calm, reciprocal emptyings and fillings, you break the spell of the encounter, you emerge changed in some quiet but definite way.


The Graphics of Solidarity

The Solidarity logo was designed by J. and K. Janiszewski, two marginally employed graphic artists living in Gdansk, during the second week of the August 1980 strike at their hometown’s mammoth Lenin Shipyards. Within a month it had become the ubiquitous emblem of a national worker’s movement. In this particular case we do have some knowledge of the graphic’s origins. With many of Solidarity’s posters, no such documentation exists. Some of Solidarity’s most powerful images, for that matter, are no longer available in any form. In the heat of confrontation, Solidarity didn’t have much time or interest in archival documentation. Paper and ink were scarce: what little could be foraged was quickly used and the resultant posters immediately slapped onto public walls, where they belonged. Weather, and in some cases official sabotage, took their toll before anybody realized that no record had been kept. The next day’s crisis—the next day’s occasion—was in any case already at hand.


Project for a Memorial

Introduced by Lawrence Weschler During the months of its initial upsurge, Polish theorists used to characterize Solidarity as an expression of the subjectivity of the Polish nation, by which they meant its capacity at long last to start acting once [...]

Unfinished: On Vincent Desiderio’s Sleep

The painting—a stunningly ambitious tableau, eight feet high, fully twenty-four feet long, and portraying twelve mostly naked figures, as visioned from above, arrayed, recumbent, one beside the next, knotted up in sheets and tossed by sleep (or maybe unconscious, or maybe even dead, it was hard to tell)—had been one of the stand-out triumphs of Vincent Desiderio’s singularly impressive show at Manhattan’s Marlborough Gallery in January 2004. Despite its forbiddingly unwieldy dimensions, the piece had sold off the floor, to a private museum in Connecticut, on condition, however, that Desiderio would first be allowed to take the canvas back with him to his Ossining studio. For all its highly burnished finish, the work had been listed as still “in progress” in the exhibition’s catalog. And now, over a year later, with its new owners clamoring for the painting’s already frequently postponed final delivery, it was still very much a work in progress, changing dramatically from day to day. Dramatically, and yet hardly at all: for Desiderio had achieved one of those images of such layered complexity and tautly interwoven cross-reference that the slightest tweak—here, say, the new way light was being made to fall across this woman’s shoulder, or there, the manner in which that man’s arm had been stretched ever so slightly higher—reverberated across the entire panel, as if across a tightly stretched drum skin.


Writing Life: The Universal in the Particular

Enraged to discover that Germany did not possess any work by Michelangelo, his favorite artist, Hitler was mildly consoled to find a painting by Caravaggio—Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio—whom Hitler thought was the same person as Michelangelo Buonarroti. Next, he became enchanted by Correggio's erotic depiction of Leda and the Swan, though when his guide discovered him, transfixed before the painting, Hitler insisted he was only admiring the subtle play of light and shadow.

A Pleasure Grove of Italian Renaissance Art

Readers will not be disappointed with the wealth of material covered. Entries on individual artists are logically arranged to include information on his or her life and works; working methods and techniques, writings (if any), character and personality, and critical reception and posthumous reception. An extensive bibliography on each artist follows; in the case of major figures such as Michelangelo, Botticelli, Raphael, or Titian, helpful subject headings (i.e. Documentary and Bibliographical Sources; General; Specialist Studies; Monographs; and Catalogues; Drawings) within the bibliographies direct readers to areas of related scholarship. Cross-references within the entries direct readers to other relevant entries.