Viewing entries tagged
matthew spellberg

The Crucifixion of Kent: <br>Life and Work of an American Sculptor, Part Two

The Crucifixion of Kent:
Life and Work of an American Sculptor, Part Two

A feature by Matthew Spellberg

The artist William Kent worked in isolation for half a century in order to produce a fantastical universe out of wood, slate and satin. The inhabitants of this universe included insects, sea-monsters, giant safety pins, and outsized rubber chickens. Their creator gave them shelter and purpose. In return, they helped carry out one of the century’s most radical and bizarre projects of transformation . . .

The Crucifixion of Kent: <br>Life and Work of an American Sculptor, Part One

The Crucifixion of Kent:
Life and Work of an American Sculptor, Part One

A feature by Matthew Spellberg

The artist William Kent worked in isolation for half a century in order to produce a fantastical universe out of wood, slate and satin. The inhabitants of this universe included insects, sea monsters, giant safety pins, and outsized rubber chickens. Their creator gave them shelter and purpose. In return, they helped carry out one of the century’s most radical and bizarre projects of transformation . . .

Four-and-Twenty Bluebeards, Baked in a Pie: On the Laws of Operatic Space-Time

Four-and-Twenty Bluebeards, Baked in a Pie: On the Laws of Operatic Space-Time

A feature by Matthew Spellberg

Opera is an art form as hopelessly stylized as Noh or Kathakali. In their splendidly deadpan history of opera, Roger Parker and Carolyn Abbate put it like this: “Opera is in a basic sense not realistic—operatic characters go about their business singing rather than speaking.” Elsewhere, they elaborate only slightly: “That’s it. That’s opera. Just a lot of people in costumes falling in love and dying.” But opera, though structured like Bartók’s definition of folk culture, also participates fully in Western high art’s commitment to novelty, revolution, and innovation. And herein lies a problem, a second paradox. How do you make legible an art form that is at once stylized, and yet is always revising the code that translates the stylized into the everyday? Imagine a religion which every week changed most of the gestures and much of the language of its ceremony, but still expected the audience to follow it, to understand it...