Friday, February 5, 2010

Gold stars

There are things in The New Yorker that I like, also! Just to prove it, here are two pullquotes from the February 1, 2010 issue.

First, from George Packer's article about the city of Dresden and its complicated relationship with its history:
Dresden is the Blanche DuBois of German cities -- violated, complicit in its violation, desperate to recover its innocence. It has the unstable character of a place with a romantic self-image and a past that it would rather not discuss.
A rhetorical gamble, but I think he pulled it off. The whole article is well worth reading, by the way, or at least worth skimming for the good parts.

Here are a couple of memorable sentences from Peter Schjeldahl's review of the Bronzino show at the Met:
Recall Bronzino's "The Allegory of Venus and Cupid," at the National Gallery in London: a confounding tour de force of over-the-top sensuality and cryptic symbolism, painted for France's racy, bookish Francis I. (Cupid lewdly embraces his naked mother while, among other things, Father Time presides, a butterball putto rejoices, a cute-faced and snake-tailed grotesque proffers a honeycomb, and a dove departs on foot like a stricken guest from a party that is way out of hand.)
To fully appreciate the delightfulness of that description, compare this lesser attempt, from a review of the same show in The Wall Street Journal:
Many of us cherish, too, Bronzino's "Allegory of Venus and Cupid," at the National Gallery in London, a kinky free-for-all in which a teenage Cupid gropes his nude mother amid characters symbolizing time, folly, jealousy, and some things I've forgotten.
And since I know you're as curious as I am, here's the picture being described. It was difficult to find at first, because Schjeldahl calls it "The Allegory of Venus and Cupid," Wikipedia calls it "Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time" (?), and the National Gallery (who should know!) calls it "An Allegory with Venus and Cupid." And now that I'm looking at it I'm not at all sure I agree that the dove is "departing on foot," rather than just hanging out in the bottom left corner (canoodling with another dove, if you ask me). But it's a great mental image just the same.

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