What is The New Yorker? I know it’s a great magazine and that it’s a tremendous source of pleasure in my life. But what exactly is it? This blog’s premise is that The New Yorker is a work of art, as worthy of comment and analysis as, say, Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” Each week I review one or more aspects of the magazine’s latest issue. I suppose it’s possible to describe and analyze an entire issue, but I prefer to keep my reviews brief, and so I usually focus on just one or two pieces, to explore in each the signature style of its author. A piece by Nick Paumgarten is not like a piece by Dana Goodyear, and neither is like a piece by Ian Frazier. One could not mistake Finnegan for Friend, or Bilger for Lepore, or Collins for Khatchadourian. Each has found a style, and it is that style that I respond to as I read, and want to understand and describe.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Julia Rothman's Delightful Illustrations

Julia Rothman's "Ocean's 8"

One of the most piquant details in last week’s New Yorker (April 25 issue) is Julia Rothman’s “Above & Beyond” illustration of Mmuseum 2’s “Future Aleppo” exhibit. It shows a young man (green jacket, black backpack, green track pants with a thin yellow stripe down the legs) walking a gray city sidewalk, approaching the miniscule museum with its doors open and Mohammed Qutaish’s paper miniature of the Syrian city visible in a blue square within. To my knowledge, this is the first Rothman to appear in the magazine. Recently, three of her artworks were used to illustrate’s “Bar Tab” columns: "Paris Blues," "Sycamore," and "Ocean's 8." My favorite is “Ocean’s 8”: rectangles of flat green, brown, tan, and buff depict foreground pool table and backdrop bowling alley together with myriad whimsical liney details (orange drink-filled glass, pink purse, black overhead lamp, orange-and-white billiard ball, cream-and-orange tank top, gray-and-orange ping pong paddles) and three active figures (pool-player, bowler, drinker). I look forward to seeing more of Rothman’s delightful work in The New Yorker. It’s inspired!

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