Woman II — Natalie Frank

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Woman II, 2016 by Natalie Frank (b. 1980)

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Illustration for “The Hare and the Giants” — Barry Moser

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Barry Moser’s illustration for Lynne Reid Banks’s “The Hare and the Giants.” From The Magic Hare, Avon, 1994.

Donning the Ceremonial Death Shirt — Samual Weinberg

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Donning the Ceremonial Death Shirt, 2016 by Samual Weinberg

June Night — Henry Koerner

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June Night, 1949 by Henry Koerner (1915-1991)

Blondie Bubba and the Red Porch — Jamie Adams

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Blondie Bubba and the Red Porch, 2016 by Jamie Adams (b. 1961)

Chase — Dragan Bibin 

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Chase by Dragan Bibin (b. 1984)

Untitled (Hiveman) — Gervasio Gallardo

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Untitled (Hiveman) by Gervasio Gallardo (b. 1934)

Soldier’s Granddaughter — Gely Korzhev

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Soldier’s Granddaughter, 2004 by Gely Korzhev (1925-2012)

The Vagabond — Gustave Courbet

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The Vagabond, 1845 by Gustave Courbet (1819-1877)

Hercules and the Cattle of Geryon (Detail) — The Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder

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Hercules and the Cattle of Geryon, c. 1537 by the Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder

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Schloss Kammer on Lake Attersee I — Gustav Klimt

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Schloss Kammer on Lake Attersee I, 1908 by Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)

Scar Tissue of Lies — Katherine Kuharic

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Scar Tissue of Lies, 2016 by Katherine Kuharic (b. 1962)

Coping — Nicole Eisenman

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Coping, 2008 by Nicole Eisenman (b. 1965)

June hath 30 days | Djuna Barnes

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Reviews, riffs, anti-reviews, and interviews of Jan 2018-May 2018 (and an unrelated fruit bat)

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These are links to some of the longer pieces I’ve written so far this year. The painting of the great Indian fruit bat (c. 1777-1782) is attributed to Bhawani Das or one of his followers.

The Last Jedi and the anxiety of influence

A review of Paul Thomas Anderson’s film Phantom Thread

A review of Paul Kirchner’s underground comix collection Awaiting the Collapse (at The Comics Journal)

A review of The Paris Review’s overproduced podcast

A review of Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz’s collection Narcotics

A few paragraphs on beginning Iris Murdoch’s novel The Bell

On a compelling Stephen Crane character

A review of Iris Murdoch’s novel The Bell

On a particular Gordon Lish sentence

On rereading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance

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On Goya’s painting The Straw Man

On Don DeLillo’s novel The Names

On the radical postmodernism of Ursula K. Le Guin’s short story “Schrödinger’s Cat” 

Polygamy as a metaphor in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance

On Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “silvery veil” — and David Foster Wallace’s Madame Psychosis

An analysis of William Carlos Williams’s ekphrastic poem “The Wedding Dance in the Open Air”

A close reading of Lydia Davis’s very short story “Happiest Moment”

On a passage from Gerald Murnane’s short story “Stream System”

Something on a scene from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance

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On John Berryman’s Dream Song 265

On making a literary cocktail, the sherry cobbler

On Robert Coover’s short story “The Brother”

On Claire-Louise Bennett’s short story “Stir-Fry”

On Balthus’s portraits of young girls reading 

On the postmodern comedy-horror axis of Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy

An interview with the editors of Egress, a new literary magazine devoted to innovative writing

A completely subjective and thoroughly unnecessary ranking of Thomas Pynchon’s novels

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Antoine Volodine’s Writers blows me away

A review of Dave Cooper’s queasy abject comic Mudbite (at The Comics Journal)

On Michael Radford’s film adaptation of 1984

Is The Running Man a good film?

On William Friedkin’s paranoid, claustrophobic horror flick Bug

Mary and the Witch’s Flower, a love letter to Studio Ghibli from director Hiromasa Yonebayashi

On Hayao Miyazaki’s film Porco Rosso

A review of Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon

A review of Lady Macbeth

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Kerry James Marshall on Charles White

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Black Pope (Sandwich Board Man), 1973 by Charles White

Painter Kerry James Marshall has written a wonderful appreciation of the artist Charles White. The piece also serves as a miniature artistic autobiography of Marshall himself, set against the backdrop of African-American history in the latter half of the 20th century. The piece, published in Charles White: A Retrospective (ed. Sarah Kelly Oehler and Esther Adler, 2018) is excerpted today in The Paris Review. Here’s the opening paragraph:

I have been a stalwart advocate for the legacy of Charles White. I have said it so often, it could go without saying. I have always believed that his work should be seen wherever great pictures are collected and made available to art-loving audiences. He is a true master of pictorial art, and nobody else has drawn the black body with more elegance and authority. No other artist has inspired my own devotion to a career in image making more than he did. I saw in his example the way to greatness. Yes. And because he looked like my uncles and my neighbors, his achievements seemed within my reach. The wisdom he dispensed to the many aspiring artists who gathered around him was always straightforward: do your work with skill and integrity, everything else is superfluous. It is a right time for him to be considered again in the fullness of his expertise. And fitting that he should be recognized with a survey in three of the best museums in the world.

Perhaps my favorite section of the piece is where Marshall situates White’s commitment to human representation:

Charlie himself remained steadfast in his commitment to representational art through all the shifts and changes in the contemporary art world of his era. He was not taken up in the rush toward abstraction and what the art historian Thomas McEvilley called the “misconceived belief that abstract art represented a kind of nothingness that made it seem the final term in a semantic series.” …

It was always clear with Charlie that to make good work, one had to know a thing or two about more than how to draw or paint. He had a scholar’s interest in history, which informed the work he made. He often said your work should be about things that mattered but reminded us all to concentrate on making the best drawings we could, adding, “the ideas will take care of themselves.”

Read the full essay at The Paris Review

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Seed of Love, 1969 by Charles White

The Wedding Party (Birth of a Book) — Henry Koerner

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The Wedding Party (Birth of a Book) by Henry Koerner (1915-1991)