Maureen Mullarkey is a painter who writes on art and culture. Her essays have appeared in various publications, among them: The Nation, Crisis, Commonweal, Hudson Review, Arts, The New Criterion, First Things, The Weekly Standard, and The Magazine Antiques. She was a columnist for The New York Sun.

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The America Today Murals

From Maureen Mullarkey

With the political dogmas of American modernism behind us, Thomas Hart Benton’s first mural commission can be seen for the glory that it is. His ten-panel America Today, donated to the Metropolitan Museum and on display until next April, is a kaleidoscopic epic that embodies the intimacy between visual art and United States social history in the first third of the twentieth century. Continue Reading »

All Hallow’s Eve 2014

From Maureen Mullarkey

Balmoral Castle, 1874. It was a Halloween to remember. Queen Victoria planned an elaborate party, taking charge of designing every element of the night herself. Something in the incongruity of that touches me. Victoria, living with the ghost of Prince Albert, sought to stave off the monstrous with a . . . . Continue Reading »

A Domestic Annunciation

From Maureen Mullarkey

Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) was this country’s first major African-American artist. Within nine years of moving to Paris—a crucial cultural destination for his generation—he had become an international success. By 1900, he ranked among the leading Americans in Paris and was counted the premier biblical painter of his day. He exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon, attracting even greater critical acclaim than Thomas Eakins, his friend and former mentor at the Pennsylvania Academy. Continue Reading »

King Francis

From Maureen Mullarkey

Set aside, if you can, the specific moral teachings that are in the dock. Suppress for a moment whatever sympathy you might have with Francis’ aims. What bewilders me here is the precipitous end-run being made around collegiality and subsidiarity, with scant regard for the trust of the faithful in the validity of the Church’s essential moral suasion on essential matters Continue Reading »

To Go A-Christianing

From Maureen Mullarkey

Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800 leaves no doubt that Islamic slaving was far from a minor phenomenon, not mere corsair hysteria as some would term it. In Davis’ densely documented account, white slavery in the Mahgreb was enormously consequential. Continue Reading »

Columbus’ Day

From Maureen Mullarkey

The finest way to spend Columbus Day weekend is to put down whatever else you are doing and sit a while with Samuel Eliot Morison’s Christopher Columbus, Mariner. It is the popular version of his magisterial two-volume Admiral of the Ocean Sea, which won a 1942 Pulitzer. Continue Reading »

John Walker at Alexandre Gallery

From Maureen Mullarkey

In Painting and Reality, Etienne Gilson argued that painting should be experienced on its own terms. That is to say, aesthetically. He insisted that audiences greet art without thinking of it as something to be understood, decoded, or interpreted. A painting is not an essay, not a set of . . . . Continue Reading »

New Evangelism?

From Maureen Mullarkey

The new evangelization is hardly different from the old. It resides, as it has from the first century, in the lived witness of individuals to a risen Lord—to the sacramental character of the world, of time itself, and of each other’s place in it. It inhabits right relations between persons. And it endures in confession of inexhaustible sorrow over failure in those relations Continue Reading »

Letters from Ireland

From Maureen Mullarkey

Among letters responding to recent posts are two from Dublin. One is from a parish priest uneasy with Rome’s Disneyfied wedding fest and its predictable press response. The other, from a teacher who details the extent of contemporary Ireland’s unfamiliarity with the Christian story. Continue Reading »