The Jordanian Woman

First Things is pleased to announce the opening of ‘The Jordanian Woman (Die Frau ohne Schatten)’, an exhibition of paintings by Jörg Madlener. A private student of Otto Dix, Jörg Madlener has remained faithful throughout his long career to his original fascination for the human face. His latest series, ‘The Jordanian Woman (Die Frau ohne Schatten)’ is the fruit of the artist’s years in the Middle-East, an experience which led him to touch the human drama behind the political conflicts.
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​The Pieta of Joan of Arc

Fort Drum, home to the 10th Mountain Division and, until very recently, to my family, has recently provided something rather unusual for its soldiers: great art. It is a very refreshing development that one can now walk into the main entrance of the Main Post Chapel of this large military . . . . Continue Reading »

Celibacy in the City

The day after the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage this summer, I was in line for the Ferris Wheel with my three year old daughter. An insufficiently directive ride attendant left me confused as to which car to enter. Do we get our own? Do we pile in with strangers? Whatever our options might . . . . Continue Reading »

Say Not, “Modern Art is Bad”

This week in New York, the “One Faith: East and West” art exhibition is at the Catholic Center of NYU, after stops in Beijing and Moscow. The exhibition is a concrete expression of Christian unity, and the artists are from several different countries and confessions: Roman and Byzantine . . . . Continue Reading »

Picturing Mary

The new exhibit at Washington D.C.’s National Museum of Women in the Arts, “Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea,” conceived even before the museum’s birth in 1987, opened this year at long last, just in time for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The exhibit, which will continue until Easter, is under the curatorship of Msgr. Timothy Verdon, director of the Cathedral Museum of Florence, Italy and a leading scholar of Marian art. Continue Reading »

The Five Stages of Grieving the Art of Jeff Koons

It is Sunday night, and the Whitney Museum of American Art has been open for thirty-some hours straight. The line for this last chance to see the Jeff Koons retrospective wraps around the block. Fittingly, these are also the last hours of the Whitney Museum itself, at least in its upper East Side manifestation (their new building opens in Chelsea next year). Visiting the hideous structure one last time is like reaching out to pet the old family dog before he gets put to sleep—only to have your hand bitten. The inverted ziggurat architecture has always been an exercise in anti-effort with the art to match. A longstanding top floor feature was Marcel Duchamp’s In Advance of the Broken Arma snow shovel the artist purchased and declared art by fiat. Once elusive, the meaning is now clear. Here is the tool that has authorized the Whitney to pile it high. Koons’s towering mound of polychrome aluminum Play-Doh, the highlight of the show, is the simply the crest of the heap. Continue Reading »

Protestantism in the Desert

I admit to having experienced perverse enjoyment when first hearing the story Episcopal Bishop James Pike. The cautionary tale is featured in Joan Didion’s The White Album, and more recently, in two sobering chronicles of Protestant decline, Ross Douthat’s Bad Religion and Joseph Bottum’s AnAnxious Age. Following an impressive revisionist binge, Pike finally cast off Christianity completely. In pursuit of some kind of Gnosis, he drove into the Jordanian desert in a Ford Cortina with two Cokes and his third wife, where he lost his way and died. Such a fitting illustration of the Protestant condition, I once thought: an ill-equipped Ford Cortina hurtling to desert doom. Continue Reading »