Would someone please answer the following question for me: Why do Americans – actually, I think Westerners generally, but I will stick with Americans – believe art is something that must be approached so … well … seriously? With most art, most Americans seem to believe that, when looking at a painting or a piece of sculpture or seeing a play or listening to a piece of music, they are obligated, on pain of being branded as culture-phobic philistines, to wear a facial expression that announces to the world Pity me! I am dying of terminal hemorrhoids!
Well, before anyone makes any cracks about that remark, I will back up a step or two and say that, yes, to be sure, some works of art are explicitly intended to evoke play, laughter, and light-hearted dalliance. A good example is
Like most everyone else – that is, except probably for the actual actors and staff of Game of Thrones (hereafter GOT) – I have only watched the penultimate episode “The Bells”. So I know no more about how the series ends than anyone else. Least of all do I know who ends up sitting on the Iron Throne. That question presumably is answered in the final-season episode next week, as this is written (14 May). But if the Westerosi elite were to ask my counsel about who is best suited and equipped to sit on the Throne, I could recur to some ancient Greek texts, specifically Plato’s Republic, for some very wise advice.
But first a solemn
warning: If you have not seen this next-to-last
episode of GOT, then read no farther,
because reading past this paragraph will almost certainly
Ever since my very first exposure to it in 1979 as part of a Smithsonian Institution art-history seminar, one of my favorite art venues in Washington, DC, has been the venerable Phillips Collection, a few blocks east and perhaps a block south of the DuPont Circle DC Metro stop.
The Phillips Collection
There are many reasons for my respect and enthusiasm for “the Phillips,” but certainly one of the most salient reasons for my “evangelical” work on behalf of the Collection is that the Phillips houses Pierre Auguste Renoir’s great Luncheon of the Boating Party (hereafter Luncheon). (I refuse to call it, as some critics do, Boatman’s Lunch. Computers are expensive and I would rather not throw up on mine.) Aside from the sheer beauty of the painting itself, I enjoy watching others’