Recent links of note:
“How a $450 Million da Vinci Was Lost in America—and Later Found”
Denise Blostein, Robert Libetti & Kelly Crow, The Wall Street Journal
The mysterious whereabouts of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi (ca. 1500) have already been cause for comment in this column—the recently rediscovered painting has changed hands many times, continually falling into and out of obscurity. In the seventeenth century, it was even documented in the homes of two British nobles at once. Now it appears that Salvator spent much of the twentieth century in the most unlikely of places: the home of a sheet-metal manufacturer in Louisiana. After a series of art-sale squabbles following the painting’s return to the catalogues in 2005, the Salvator has been bought by the Louvre Abu Dhabi, although its official unveiling has been postponed indefinitely.
“A Trip to Tolstoy Farm”
Jordan Michael Smith, Longreads
The strain of utopianism in Leo Tolstoy’s works can leave an odd taste in the mouth of even casual readers. But for a movement of die-hard followers who set up communes based on his political writings, their experience with Tolstoy is even odder. Jordan Michael Smith reports on Tolstoy Farm, a commune outside Spokane, Washington, that began with plans for utopian living à la Leo and found another sort of refuge instead. The Farm (not to be confused with Gandhi’s earlier South African community of the same name), which was founded in 1963 by Huw “Piper” Williams, functions much like other American hippie communes, though it has hung on longer than most. Do the community’s Tolstoyan roots feed its survival? Not necessarily. Smith suggests that, in fact, the abandonment of Tolstoy’s unrealistic ideals has helped the Farm community to morph into today’s more modest version: a loosely associated group of society’s discontents.
“Frick collection invites contemporary artist into its permanent galleries for the first time”
Victoria Stapley-Brown, The Art Newspaper
The British artist Edmund de Waal has found his place among the Old Masters. De Waal’s porcelain works, which will be on view from May to November of next year, will be the first contemporary pieces ever displayed alongside the Frick’s permanent collection. The museum’s curator of decorative arts, Charlotte Vignon, said the installations aren’t a sign of contemporary works to come, but a way to “reconsider [the Museum’s] own collection.” Read Anthony Daniels’s review of de Waal’s book on ceramics in The New Criterion.
“What makes a waif?”
Joanne O’Leary, London Review of Books
The Irish writer Maeve Brennan’s life story is as fascinating as her fiction and journalism. Born in Dublin, she came to New York in the ’30s and blazed her way to writerly fame: she started at Harper’s Bazaar and then moved over to The New Yorker, where she began writing fashion notices. Soon, though, she was producing detailed, stylish “Talk of the Town” pieces that, according to John Updike, “helped put the New York back into The New Yorker.” Like many of the waifs and drifters in her short stories, Brennan’s drinking and a developing mental illness brought trouble to herself and those around her. But her life and her writing captured the glamour and gloom of a mid-century New York on the make—quite literally tearing itself to the ground to build itself taller. Read more on Brennan’s short stories in Brooke Allen’s New Criterion reviews of Brennan’s collections The Rose Gardenand The Springs of Affection: Stories of Dublin.
“1,400 US Museums to Offer Free Admission on September 22”
Jasmine Weber, Hyperallergic
Clear your calendars for Saturday: it’s Museum Day, with free admission to select art, history, and other museums across the country, including more than twenty institutions in New York City. Reserve tickets in advance here.
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