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Art Needs Faith

Tis the season of “The Artist”: On screen, in print, and on stage, the man of the hour is the creative genius, the absolutist, the martyr, the suffering sinner redeemed only when he gives himself away, lovingly and without reservations, to his art. Just ask Hollywood, which is all aflutter at . . . . Continue Reading »

A Visit to Fr. Zinon

Down a deeply rutted dirt road, far from Russia’s centers of power and wealth, sits a small compound behind twelve-foot-high brick walls. People in the nearest village, several miles away, have heard rumors that an odd man lives there, a monk perhaps. But no one has seen him or knows anything . . . . Continue Reading »

Rossetti the Unmodern

Life wreathes flowers for death to wear. Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882), who said as much, is dead and gone, his sonnets deader still, if we may judge by classroom syllabi and the infrequency with which his name appears in the leading periodicals. He still crops up half a dozen times a decade . . . . Continue Reading »

Photo Negative

It was Lisa del Giocondo who first alerted me to the perils of photography. I’ve been visiting her for years at her spacious home in the Louvre, and I have always been bemused by the ritual of her admirers approaching her, camera in hand, clicking away furiously. But this summer’s visit, my . . . . Continue Reading »

The Men Behind the Met

My grandfather died before I was born, and he remains to me a mostly mysterious figure. As is true of many people born poor who are committed to bettering their lot, his hours were taken up with work, family, and church; not much was left for that luxury item we call personality. A big man with paws . . . . Continue Reading »

Tarkovsky’s Sublime Terror

Andrei rublev, the masterpiece of the great Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, opens with a failed attempt to conquer God. A man attached to a hot-air balloon floats to the upper domes of an imposing church, the tallest structure that a mob of fifteenth-century monks and peasants will ever see in . . . . Continue Reading »

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