Art and Film: Red scares

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Two current movies about Russia, both gloriously snide but in different ways, open with discrete artistic performances. In Armando Iannucci’s impeccably sardonic and irreverent The Death of Stalin, it’s a Mozart piano concerto, going out live on radio. The producers of the broadcast have neglected to record it, and, implicitly … read more… “Art and Film: Red scares”

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Art and Film: Amy Jenkins hosts death

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / During and after the AIDS epidemic, gay artists like Carlos Alfonzo, Ross Bleckner, Robert Gober, and Keith Haring used visual art to convey the tragedy of mass premature death that gutted the art world, as well as the political injustice of the U.S. government’s refusal to recognize the gravity of the disease. … read more… “Art and Film: Amy Jenkins hosts death”

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Robin Lowe’s exquisitely eerie paintings

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / It goes almost without saying that paintings of people need to bring more to the table than faithful visual representations of what the people look like. But what, exactly? There is of course a range of options as to the kinds of enhancements a painter can incorporate. Natural environment, social milieu, and personal activity are some … read more… “Robin Lowe’s exquisitely eerie paintings”

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Eddie Martinez: Hard-earned cool

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / An Eddie Martinez painting exudes casual and effervescent esprit, from the comic-book energy of jangled shape and line, to the optic colors applied with a smart brand of aggressive sloppiness, right down to the often occluded header and footer on the canvas identifying it as his. The printed information says, insouciantly, … read more… “Eddie Martinez: Hard-earned cool”

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Art and Film: Dedicated followers of fashion

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / In the brilliantly obtuse Phantom Thread, a paradoxically epic chamber piece, Paul Thomas Anderson explores the way in which romantic union constrains and energizes creativity. Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis, archly perfect in his purported swan song) is a creepily narcissistic and unctuous haute-couture dressmaker. The House of Woodcock caters to … read more… “Art and Film: Dedicated followers of fashion”

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Art & Film: Liquid asset in The Shape of Water

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Cult film auteur Guillermo del Toro, director and co-writer of the triumphant The Shape of Water, sees 1962, in which it is set, as a historical hinge point. It was the first (and last) full year of Kennedy’s Camelot and the final year of America’s perceived (if delusional) postwar idyll … read more… “Art & Film: Liquid asset in The Shape of Water”

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Art and film: Billboard as political provocation

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / During the pre-Mad Men golden age of roadside America, advertising billboards set a tone of warm and friendly commercialism. Perhaps the most notable and culturally durable ones were those of Burma-Shave, a then-novel brushless shaving cream. The ads were picture-free and strictly verbal: they consisted of short, whimsically sardonic poems … read more… “Art and film: Billboard as political provocation”

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Elizabeth Murray’s magnificent tensions

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Elizabeth Murray (1940–2007) was one of art’s gloriously purposeful paradoxes. Her work is irrepressibly bold yet insistently nuanced; liberated in spirit though domestically grounded in everyday objects; audaciously abstract but rigorously referential; simultaneously affirming and deconstructive; tightly composed while casually gestural. These magnificent tensions emerge in every blooming painting of … read more… “Elizabeth Murray’s magnificent tensions”


Art and Film: Ruben Östlund’s bloated indignation

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / The art world and the bourgeoisie are taking a cinematic beating this year. Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) mercilessly exposes the resentments of has-been art stars, and Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a supremely creepy and deeply humorous takedown of the upper-middle class … read more… “Art and Film: Ruben Östlund’s bloated indignation”

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Art and Film: Noah Baumbach’s New York state of mind

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is arguably Noah Baumbach’s best movie since The Squid and the Whale, and seems sure to advance his putative destiny of becoming Woody Allen’s successor as the ranking cinematic chronicler of the artily exasperating New York state of mind. Like the earlier movie, the new one … read more… “Art and Film: Noah Baumbach’s New York state of mind”

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