My mother mails me articles and things from time to time, as she has not expressed an interest in email beyond a brief flirtation every other year or so, and recently she sent me a couple of pages from the New York Times Book Review from a couple of weeks ago.

I should admit that I get at least 98% of my news online, and frankly, hardly ever read anything as stultifying as the NYTBR. So it was nice to flip through a few pages I could hold in my hand. Different.

The article she sent was a review, by Jed Perl, of Hunter Drohojowska-Philp's recent biography of Georgia O' Keefe. He wasn't particularly jazzed by it, but there was a interesting discussion of individualism in modern art. Noted:
What connects O'Keeffe with Kahlo, Modigliani and Dalí is that they were all unwilling to allow a style to take on a life of its own. In the work of these artists style remained a private matter, and the public flocked to their work precisely because it seemed the revelation of a secret -- a kind of visual arts exposé. For Dalí there was nothing but the preternatural weirdness of his dreams. For Modigliani the whole world was a succession of bohemian Everymen and Everywomen. For Kahlo life was as intricately tangled as the figures on an antique Mexican votive painting. For O'Keeffe all experience was a cycle of blossoming forth and withering away. And for the public these signature styles became like an actor's beloved mannerisms -- like Clark Gable's swaggering toughness or Marlene Dietrich's suave seduction.
It goes without saying that I could read Jed Perl's work all day. I found his review, for The New Republic, of an exhibition of Icelandic artist Louisa Matthiasdottir at Scandinavia House to be particularly moving.

Even better, I flipped the page to discover another one of my favorite bylines - Liesl Schillinger. I always read everything of hers that I come across, and this case was no exception. Her review of a writer's memoir of love and its lesser outcomes in Russia was sharp, amusing and actually a pleasure to read.

Maybe I will read the Times more often. Although I certainly try, but usually end up feeling embarassed for the editors of the "Sunday Styles" section and most of the features. And anything that McGrath touches. Cringe-worthy.


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