Reliving the Renaissance

Anthony Grafton

Reviewing the Metropolitan Museum’s show “Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry,” Anthony Grafton called Coecke (1502–1550) “a master who devoted his best talents and energies to tapestries and other collaborative enterprises, and who, for that reason, has never had the fame of the great masters of fresco, portrait, and sculpture.” Here we present a series of Coecke’s paintings, drafts, and tapestries with Grafton’s commentary.

Lilliput Under the Sea

Tim Flannery

Susan Middleton’s Spineless reveals a world where hermit crabs resemble wizards carrying their own magic mountains on their backs, and where worms are transformed into exquisite, pearly necklaces. Marine invertebrates—from octopuses to hermit crabs and creatures like the bizarre holothurians—are the focus of this photography book.

Great Aspirations of the Iron Age

James Romm

The cultures that took part in the complex trade network between major civilizations during the Iron Age, and the traces the traders themselves left behind in shipwrecks and foreign settlements, are the focus of the vast and impressive exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, “Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age.”

David Lynch’s Bad Thoughts

J. Hoberman

Is David Lynch a celebrity painter? Or, put another way: Would the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) be exhibiting four decades of his work, were he not 1) a world-famous movie director and 2) the most famous PAFA alum since Mad magazine cartoonist Don Martin or Thomas Eakins or maybe ever? Impossible to answer and pretty much irrelevant, as Lynch’s paintings and assemblages place his movies in the setting of his art work and not vice versa.

A Beautiful Mosaic of Filth

Michael Greenberg

Steven Hirsch’s photos of the Gowanus Canal are solely concerned with the surface of the water—the gonorrhea, coli, and putida bacteria that cling to one another there in a mosaic of filth. In fact, these images are a microscopic record of an ecological disaster.