Monday, August 30, 2010

Israeli actors to boycott new West Bank theatre

60 actors, writers and directors argue that performing in occupied territories would legitimise illegal settlements

Ariel Turgeman, manager of the theatre being built in Ariel, a West Bank settlement, which has prompted a boycott by Israeli actors.
Photograph: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

More than 60 have joined the protest over plans by Israel's national theatre, the Habima, and other leading companies to stage performances in Ariel, a settlement 12 miles inside the West Bank. The letter, to Israel's culture minister, Limor Livnat, says the new centre for performing arts in Ariel, which is due to open in November after 20 years in construction, would "strengthen the settlement enterprise".

"We want to express our dismay with the intention of the theatres' managements to perform in the new auditorium in Ariel and hereby declare that we will refuse to perform in the city, as in any other settlement." Israel's theatre companies should "pursue their prolific activity inside the sovereign territory of the state of Israel within the boundaries of the Green Line".

The actors' letter follows the refusal of some international artists to perform in Israel because of its occupation of the Palestinian territories. Earlier this summer, Elvis Costello cancelled concerts in Israel, citing the "intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security". The Pixies, Gil Scott Heron, Santana and Klaxons have also withdrawn from performances.

Ariel, home to almost 20,000 people, was founded in 1978 deep in the West Bank. Israel wants it to remain on its side of any border resulting from peace negotiations with the Palestinians. All settlements on occupied territory are illegal under international law.

Read the whole story at, by Harriet Sherwood

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Reward Offered in Case of Missing van Gogh Painting

The Van Gogh painting that remains missing from an Egyptian museum.
Associated Press

An Egyptian telecommunications magnate has announced he is offering a reward for information leading to the recovery of a van Gogh painting that was stolen from a museum in Giza, while Egyptian authorities said they would improve security measures at all of their museums.

Naguib Sawiris, the billionaire chairman of the wireless network company Orascom Telecom, said he would pay a reward of a million Egyptian pounds (about $175,000) for information on the van Gogh, Reuters reported. The painting, known as “Poppy Flowers” or “Vase and Flowers,” is valued at more than $50 million. The work was stolen Saturday from the Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil Museum, where it hung in a room with only some working cameras and no working alarms.

Read the whole story at The New York Times, by Dave Itzkoff

Monday, August 23, 2010

Critic's Notebook: Eli Broad and the Diller Scofidio + Renfro museum design

The news that New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro has finally, officially been named architect of the new Broad Collection museum in downtown Los Angeles proves a couple of things quite clearly. One is that in a design competition as constrained and carefully controlled as the one Eli Broad has been running, a few big conceptual ideas dramatically presented — rather than an inventive treatment of a building's shape — can go a long way. Another is that a little flattery never hurts.

Because Broad from the start gave the six firms vying for the museum job such tight parameters, the high-powered private competition — which also included Rem Koolhaas, Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron and Tokyo firm SANAA — essentially produced six versions of a steel-framed box. (I was given exclusive access to the competition proposals a few weeks ago, before Broad made a final decision.) Each of the designs featured a rectangular museum building rising above a parking garage, open to the sidewalk along Grand Avenue and topped with skylit galleries.

The veil would be lifted up at two corners, with a particularly large opening at the corner of 2nd and Grand, where the museum comes nearest Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall. The architects see that gesture, in part, as a flirtatious one in the direction of the concert hall.

Read the whole story at Los Angeles Times Architecture Critic, by Christopher Hawthorne

Sunday, August 22, 2010

British literary critic Frank Kermode dies at age 90

Frank Kermode
Frank Kermode taught at Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Cambridge University. (Orion Publishing)
Frank Kermode, 90, an English literary critic who wrote masterfully, and in a digestible fashion, on a range of interests, including Shakespeare, the Bible and Kurt Vonnegut, died Aug. 17 in Cambridge, England. No cause of death was reported.

Considered one Britain's most prolific and admired academics -- he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991 -- Mr. Kermode's critiques were often praised for their graceful prose and fresh perspective. He wrote his first book at age 20 and his last, on the works of E.M. Forster, this past year.

He became embroiled in controversy for a short time in the 1960s as the editor of the British literary and political journal Encounter, after reports came out that the magazine was secretly funded by the CIA. Mr. Kermode said that he was ignorant of the scheme and promptly resigned from his post.

John Frank Kermode was born Nov. 29, 1919, in Douglas, on the Isle of Man, about 80 miles off the west coast of England in the Irish Sea.

Read the whole story at The Washington Post, by T. Rees Shapiro

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Geraldine Brooks to receive the Dayton Literary Peace Prize's lifetime achievement award

Geraldine Brooks
On Thursday, the organizers of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize announced that this year's lifetime achievement award will be presented to Geraldine Brooks. The Australian journalist-turned-novelist has written about war as both fact and fiction. Her second novel, "March," won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

The Dayton Literary Peace Prize, first awarded in 2006, was inspired by achievements of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords to bring the war in Bosnia to an end. Previous lifetime achievement winners include Elie Wiesel, Taylor Branch and Studs Terkel.

The Dayton Literary Peace Prize will also award prizes to fiction and nonfiction books; those in competition are being read by judges now. The Dayton Literary Peace Prizes -- and lifetime achievement award -- will be presented Nov. 7 in Dayton, Ohio.

Photo: Geraldine Brooks.
Read the whole story at Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Frank Kermode, 90, a Critic Who Wrote With Style, Is Dead

Frank Kermode about 1998
Photograph: Miriam Berkley
Frank Kermode about 1998.
Frank Kermode, who rose from humble origins to become one of England’s most respected and influential critics, died Tuesday at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 90.

His death was announced by The London Review of Books, which he helped create and to which he frequently contributed.

The author or editor of more than 50 books published over five decades, Mr. Kermode was probably best known for his studies of Shakespeare. But his range was wide, reaching from Beowulf to Philip Roth, from Homer to Ian McEwan, from the Bible to Don DeLillo. Along the way he devoted individual volumes to John Donne, Wallace Stevens and D. H. Lawrence. Unrelentingly productive, he published “Concerning E. M. Forster” just last December.

Mr. Kermode’s critics sometimes faulted him for a deliberately difficult style and what Mr. Lodge called “intellectual dandyism.” Although in “The Art of Telling” Mr. Kermode suggested that innovative French approaches to literary criticism like structuralism and deconstructionism might eventually find at least some place in the mainstream, he took to task some of the more radical attempts to subvert traditional texts through gender or racial perspectives. In “An Appetite for Poetry” (Harvard, 1989) he reaffirmed his belief in the value of reading literary classics as a way of gauging both ideals of permanence and the forces of change.

Read the whole story at The New York Times, by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Dream of a Contemporary Art Museum on the Jersey Shore

Robin Parness Lipson
Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Robin Parness Lipson, at home with Matthew Chambers’s “Rembrandt,” left, and “Follow Your Eyes,” by Simone Lucas.

ASBURY PARK, N.J. — When Robin Parness Lipson walks along the boardwalk here, she does not focus on the shirtless old men with fishing poles, the concrete relics of failed condominium developments or the pigeons who have taken up roost in the neglected Beaux-Arts landmarks along the shore.

What she sees are the bustling new restaurants and gift shops and the energy of a bright future being shaped. And as part of that future, she sees her baby, her dream, the New Jersey Museum of Contemporary Art: a glittering monument to the idea that New Jersey is not just the home of Snooki and the Situation, or feuding housewives, or the Bada Bing Club, but a place where cultured, philanthropic people can build something that makes a difference.

Ms. Lipson also has a dozen young artists, curators, event planners and others who are part of her dream. These volunteers have done everything from build a Web site,, to plan an inaugural exhibition and gala on Oct. 23.

Ms. Lipson noted that while New Jersey had many regional museums, it had nothing that drew international tourism.

Read the whole story at The New York Times, by Kate Taylor