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 Matthew Trammell is not like a piece by James Wood, and neither is like a piece by Peter Schjeldahl. One could not mistake Finnegan for Frazier, or Lepore for Paumgarten, or Goodyear 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.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

February 13 & 20, 2017, Issue

For me, the most interesting item in this week’s issue is Jane Wilson’s 1957 portrait of Jane Freilicher, illustrating Peter Schjeldahl’s “Goings On About Town” piece, “Down and In,” on NYU Grey Art Gallery’s “Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965.” Seeing it, I was reminded of Freilicher’s great The Painting Table (1954), a painting that John Ashbery, in his Reported Sightings (1991), describes as “a little anthology of ways of seeing, feeling and painting, with no suggestion that any one way is better than another.” I’ve written about The Painting Table before (see here). It’s one of my touchstones.

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