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.
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”
The commemoration of war victims provides a measure of closure for the pain of war. It may not feel that way, but it forms an important part of war itself. Rather than eliminating memorial days, Schwartz argues for the extension of mourning to cover all victims of war, down to enemy, civilian and psychological casualties. Such a practice would aggravate rather than ease the emotional burden of war, bringing it closer to the point where it becomes unbearable.
An eloquent new essay in what is called contemporary history, a book by the Dutch author Geert Mak on the Galata Bridge in Istanbul, brings back memories of the predecessor of the present bridge, which Schwartz first crossed in August 1961. It was a pontoon bridge that opened every night for shipping to the Golden Horn. Every time it was reopened for land traffic, a race took place that now seems like a clue to the creation of human values.
In February a volume of studies in Dutch art was published in memory of the economist and historian of Dutch art Michael Montias. Schwartz recommends it. In a P.S. the impending end of the Dutch-language basis for the Schwartzlist is announced.
On the morning of New Years Day, the prolific historian Charles Boxer drafted a list of his writing and speaking commitments for the year, crossing each one off as he accomplished it. Schwartz resolves to do the same. Continue reading “225bis Charles Boxer’s New Years Day”
Ethel Portnoy, a dear friend, died at the age of 77. She was an embodiment of American Europeanness, creating in the Netherlands an international but entirely Dutch literary personality. She had the precious writer’s gift of giving readers a feeling that they were in her confidence.