This week: Stephen Shore, the Bayerische Staatsoper & more.
“The Presidents: William Howard Taft” at the New-York Historical Society (March 27): William Howard Taft’s tenure as the twenty-seventh President of the United States has been appraised by many historians as “undistinguished,” or even “middling.” This has perhaps as much to do with the reserved Republican’s position in history as successor to the charismatic Theodore Roosevelt (who ultimately tanked his bid at a second term by bolting to form his own Progressive Party) as it does with any legislative or executive unproductivity. Taft’s nine years as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court have been far more admiringly remembered, for his defense of founding democratic ideals and of the Constitution that codifies them into law. On Tuesday, Jeffrey Rosen, the President and CEO of the National Constitution Center and the author of William Howard Taft, a new biography of the president, will sit down with Akhil Reed Amar, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, at the New-York Historical Society to discuss Taft’s quietly influential life and work. —AS
“Stephen Shore” at the Museum of Modern Art (through May 28):Stephen Shore is a textbook photographer. Which is to say, his photographs could illustrate a textbook on the medium of photography. Carried by a youthful curiosity and an autodidact’s sensibility, through an extensive body of work Shore has illuminated the wondrous “how” a picture is made as much as the “what” being taken. This photographer who came of age in the 1970s, and has tracked the medium’s radical evolution to the present day, is the subject of an extensive and enthralling survey at New York’s Museum of Modern Art that continues through May 28. Look for my full review in the forthcoming April 2018 issue of The New Criterion. —JP
The Bayerische Staatsoper performs Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony & Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier at Carnegie Hall (March 28–29): This week offers a chance to hear one of the world’s great opera companies in New York, as the Bayerische Staatsoper visits Carnegie Hall for a two-concert stand. On Wednesday, their orchestra will give a program of Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony and Brahms’s double concerto, one of the finest examples of the genre, with the violinist Julia Fischer and the cellist Daniel Müller-Schott. On Thursday, the company will present a full concert performance of Richard Strauss’s sumptuous masterpiece Der Rosenkavalier. The cast features Adrianne Pieczonka as the Marschallin, Angela Brower as Octavian, Hanna-Elisabeth Müller as Sophie, and Lawrence Brownlee in a celebrity cameo as the Italian Singer. Kirill Petrenko will conduct—and is soon to be a familiar face in New York when he takes the helm of one of Carnegie’s other regular visitors, the Berlin Philharmonic.—ECS
“Painting Jacob and His Twelve Sons: The Artist and His Studio,” at the Frick Collection (March 28): For those beguiled by the Frick’s current exhibition of Zurbarán’s paintings of “Jacob and His Twelve Sons,” this Wednesday offers an opportunity to learn more about the logistical processes that went into creating these captivating biblical portraits. Claire Barry—the director of conservation at the Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, Texas) and one of the exhibition’s curators—will discuss Zurbarán’s extensive studio with the aim of illuminating just how this opulent set of paintings was made. Readers should also look for Karen Wilkin’s review of the show in the forthcoming April issue of The New Criterion. —BR
From the archive:“The new political art” by James Panero. On Ai Weiwei, Pussy Riot, and the right way to do political art.
From the current issue: “Gavin Stamp, 1948–2017” by Clive Aslet. Remembering the life of the architectural historian.