Paintings at the Met
Without being pretentious but in an effort to look at familiar art more closely, I herewith embark on a project to evaluate the Met’s collection gallery by gallery, selecting the best and the worst – or, rather, my favorite work and least favorite, for I do not confuse my opinion with quality.
801. Delacroix and Ingres
Best: Jean Dominique Auguste Ingres, Portrait of Jacques-Louis Leblanc (1824). This is perhaps not a great or notable Ingres, but there is little of note to choose from in this gallery, and typical Ingres is still pretty good.
Whereas it took Beethoven four notes to write the most famous introduction in classical music – ba-ba-ba, bum – it took the Temptations only three notes to produce the sweetest, most tantalizing, most recognizable introduction in rock: ba, bum-bum. Then the song absolutely soars with a perfect opening line: “I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day. When it’s cold outside I’ve got the month of May.” How can you not be happy when you hear this song? The great Smokey Robinson wrote lyrics of unalloyed happiness: “I’ve got all the riches one man can claim.”
Disappointing. There’s no attempt at rock history, as Elton John’s songs are shoehorned into the plot wherever a lyric suggests relevance, regardless of chronology. OK, so it’s a fantasy (a la Baz Luhrmann), not a biopic. But there’s not much of a plot, either; it’s a therapy session in which Elton relives his unhappy childhood, lack of love and addiction to drugs and alcohol. It would be nice if there were a cathartic denouement, in which rock’n’roll triumphs, Elton discovers himself and becomes a star. But no, he’s a star from the start; his performances seem more forced than euphoric;
Even after the NFL’s opening weekend and Novak Djokovic’s dominating performance in the men’s final, the sports world wants to talk about Serena Williams, perhaps because the sports world is equally divided on the subject. I won’t repeat the particulars, so well known by now, but I will emphasize my view that the assessed penalties in no way contributed to her loss to Naomi Osaka. The point penalty was given at the start of Osaka’s service game – hardly a pivotal moment – which Osaka handily then won at love. The more important game penalty was also given on Osaka’s service game,