Michael Moore’s Where To Invade Next made good, if obvious, points. It was too long and had a skewered approach. The featured countries are small and homogeneous, not adjectives that describe the USA. Also, Moore’s wise fool/ genial slob act has worn thin. Afterwards, we had a good supper of spaghetti alla carbonara and arugula salad. The waiter offered us a deal: $25 for a glass and a half of red wine – from a $400 bottle! We chose instead the $13 glass of plonk.
A confession: I used to walk past the Frick’s Anthony Van Dyck’s paintings, Frans Snyders, Margareta Snyders and others, vaguely bored by the yards of silk, very white hands and snooty expressions. That changed yesterday, thanks to Adam Eaker, Guest Curator at The Frick Collection, who gave an enlightened talk about Van Dyck and the Flemish seventeenth century. Curator Eaker examined the interior, mysterious life that Van Dyck portrayed on the faces of his sitters. We started our tour downstairs in the low ceiling rooms reserved for drawings. There are several self portraits, the first done when Van Dyck was fourteen. Apprenticed to Peter Paul Rubens at a very young age, he was soon recognized as a fine portrait painter. On the main floor, the Cabinet has a lovely drawing of Frans Snyders. Both the Oval Room and the East Gallery exhibit oils, done for the most part, of court figures. There’s a luscious portrait of Cardinal Guido Bentivoglio in the Oval Room, painted when Van Dyck was in his twenties. Van Dyck was especially good at painting children. The ‘East Gallery has a painting of Charles the First’s daughters, on loan from the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Henry Clay Frick owned eight Van Dyck portraits. One of the most enchanting pictures the daughter of James, Seventh Earl of Derby.
I took this from a recent Judson Memorial Church Sunday service bulletin. “Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death – ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return. ”From Modern Testimony: James Baldwin: The Fire Next Time.