Delacroix: Rebellious Romanticist and Conservative Classicist

Eugene Delacroix bucked whenever he was labeled a romanticist. “I am a pure classicist,” he insisted. That could come as a surprise: He is often called the leader of the romanticist genre that spread through the first half of the 19th century. While both movements celebrate the past, romanticism is unbridled while classicism is reserved. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit Devotion to Drawing: The Karen B. Cohen Collection of Eugène Delacroix, a preview for a far larger retrospective opening Sept. 17, shows that Delacroix managed to embody both. His commitment to “pure” classicism led to a romanticist style, however unintentional.

Avenue to Oblivion

Jonathan Neumann has written a splendid book. The first-time author has produced a devastating broadside against Jewish radicals who have co-opted tikkun olam—a Hebrew phrase meaning “to heal (or repair) the world”—to claim a special Jewish religious obligation to engage in left-wing politics. “This theology is a contrived religious system,” he writes, “a sort of New Age mysticism that distorts the biblical Creation story and Kabbalistic (Jewish mystical) motifs in order to portray the politics of social justice as an organic Jewish teaching.”

The Empire Strikes Bach

Sony has claimed that it owns the copyright for the works of Johann Sebastian Bach—more than 1,100 of them.

Now, you might think the fact that Bach died in 1750 would put his music safely in the public domain, seeing as how it’s 178 years out of copyright (under the American system of author’s death plus 70 years). But there the story was, appearing in several news accounts this past week, all prompted by a Boing Boing report about how “you can’t play Bach on Youtube” without getting served with a takedown notice. Even the jazz historian Ted Gioia, as sane a music critic as exists these days, was prompted to tweet “Sony says they own his compositions.”

The Force of Fans and Fabric

DETROIT—”Please refrain from trying to wear any of the artworks,” the docent tells me as I enter “Star Wars™ and the Power of the Costume,” on view at the Detroit Institute of Art until Sept. 30.

It’s a reasonable request: Even though “Star Wars” resides in one of the most prestigious galleries in the United States, this isn’t really an art exhibition. It’s a nerd-out—$24 for an hour with the industrial lights and magic of Lucasfilm’s costume designers. Who among the droves of children and twenty-somethings here today isn’t tempted to try on a couple outfits?

The Nations of the Earth

By the time the fire alarms sound at the Hudson Institute a few minutes into Tuesday afternoon, dozens of protesters have already been arrested for disrupting proceedings at the opening Kavanaugh confirmation hearing across town. So, though no one bothers to move even a little toward the exits, when the alarm turns out to be false one wonders, if just for a moment, whether this wasn’t a deliberate delay. After all, nationalism is, at least to so many these days, such a dirty word.