Monday, September 23, 2013

Updates - Sept. 2013

I am back from a business trip to Chicago with a side trip to Davenport, IA to visit relatives (and the Figge Museum!).

I am too bushed to give a complete description of everything I did, but highlights include seeing Miguel Zenon at the Jazz Showcase (playing material off of his live album, Oye) and seeing the University of Iowa holdings at the Figge.  It is a little disappointing that the Jackson Pollack was returned to the university, though actually I would have been even more interested in seeing their Matisse (and the 2 other Guston's in their collection).  However, I primarily went to see the Max Beckmann triptych Carnival, and fortunately that was on display.  (The actual core museum collection is quite eclectic and not really that great.)

Beckmann's Carnival is quite an interesting painting.  One thing that you can kind of see in the thumbnails but see much better in person is that, in the center panel, the woman's head is turned nearly completely around (past the point of what a body can actually do without wrenching the back and shoulders). And her eyes go off even further to the left, so she is essentially looking completely behind herself.  It is kind of eerie.  The dwarf bellboy in the right panel also stands out a bit more in person.  Anyway, with this visit I am fairly sure I have viewed 8 of the 9 triptychs that Beckmann completed, though I am only 100% certain about 6 of 9.  I am 100% sure I have not seen The Temptation of St. Anthony in person.  Do I sense another road trip or two?

I bailed on one book during this trip (Chatterton Square by E. H. Young) and completed two: Jedediah Berry's The Manual of Detection and Anita Badami's Tamarind Mem.  I have to agree with the reviewers of The Manual of Detection that it starts strong but then degenerates into something very akin to the movie Inception (even though it was published before the movie came out).  There are also strong links to Dark City and, on more literary grounds, Jorge Luis Borges and possibly even Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday (indeed Borges copped to being an admirer of Chesterton).  I'll try to get around to reviewing Tamarind Mem in the next couple of days.

That's really all I think I can get to tonight, since I am fairly weary.
Anita Rau Badami

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