On the retirement of Paul Huvenne as director of the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, the museum offered him a surprise friendship album with contributions by 76 colleagues and friends, mainly art historians and artists. The theme, as I reported in the postscript to Schwartzlist 334, was Beelddenken – thinking in images. The book opens with Paul’s own definition of the word: “Beelddenken is the ability to form and develop thoughts in wordless images and to picture, express and communicate them directly. In Western culture, thinking in images is the repudiated opponent of thinking in words. This bypasses the fact that most words are image thoughts and that the most abstract concepts are easier imagined than articulated.” The engaging and dedicated young woman who thought up and edited the volume, Katharina van Cauteren, to whom the authors as well as the dedicatee are deeply indebted, asked the contributors to write brief reflections on any visual object of their choice, not necessarily a work of art. Continue reading “335 A Hebrew Bible page for Paul Huvenne”
A yeshiva boy’s food memories, topped by Mrs. Hrzka’s potluck kitchen on West 181st Street. Continue reading “333 Food guide to Washington Heights in 1953”
The final scenes of two of the greatest books of the twentieth century, The trial by Frans Kafka and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, are eerily similar. Schwartz examines this and other disturbing overlaps, including ties between him and Heller. Continue reading “331 “Kafka meets Catch-22”; Schwartz meets Heller”
Summer jobs in the Catskills and in Washington Market in the mid-1950s turn out in 2003 to have more meaning than Schwartz knew at the time. Continue reading “189 Summer spoilage”
A memorial tribute to a great art historian who died far too young. Continue reading “191 Losing Kirk Varnedoe”
As an undergraduate at New York University in the mid-1950s, Schwartz engaged in several one-on-one debates about art with the painter Philip Guston. He wonders what they meant to Guston. Continue reading “317 Me and Philip Guston”
On Sunday afternoon, 13 March 2011, the eminent art historian Leo Steinberg died, in his own long-time home on West 66th Street in New York, at the age of 90. I have called Leo Steinberg a good friend since we met for the first time at the National Gallery in London in 1966. When Loekie and I were married in New York in April 1968, Leo took us and our wedding guests to lunch at Ratner’s on Second Avenue. We have always thought of him as the godfather of our marriage, now in its 42nd year.
In 1994, Leo Steinberg came to the Netherlands to deliver a public lecture at Utrecht University. This is the text of the talk by which I introduced him to the audience.
Open pdf (282 kB) at Leo Steinberg Utrecht 1994
A painting by Jan Steen of a wedding night disturbed by a demon and saved by an archangel was cut in two in the distant past and put back together again in 1996. Ownership of the larger, more attractive part has now been awarded to the heirs of a Dutch Jewish art dealer to whom it belonged in 1940. What is going to happen now? Ending with an appeal to Marei von Saher.
Forty years after the stirring events of May 1968, the Dutch media asked people to recall what they were doing at the time. With a six-month delay due to circumstances, Schwartz consults his memory. Continue reading “293 Where were you in May 1968?”
On the road, especially in faraway places, Schwartz is known to succumb to an upwelling of Jewish sentiment that he never acts on at home. In Isfahan, he attended Friday-night services in the synagogue of a 2,500-year-old community and got a powerful dose of tribal feeling. Continue reading “282 Reading the prayer book in Isfahan”