Grotesque, Garish, Exuberant American Art

J. Hoberman

“What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present,” the provocatively-titled exhibit at the RISD Museum in Providence, presents a bracing alternative to one prevailing way of telling the story of postwar American art. Generally speaking, the art is grotesque, garish and exuberant, cranky, sometimes menacing, often hilarious and, in the case of the Hairy Who and Destroy All Monsters, particularly fresh.

The Coca-Colonization of Japan

Ian Buruma

Shomei Tomatsu was fifteen when Japan was defeated and the US troops arrived, casually tossing sticks of gum and chocolates at the children running after their jeeps. The rampant conquerors, who could often buy the favors of local women with a pair of silk stockings or a Hershey bar, were for young Japanese men a source of deep humiliation. But they also came with jazz music, easy manners, cool clothes, a promise of democracy, and what seemed then like vast wealth.

Understanding the China Dream

The Editors

In this video produced by VICE News, Orville Schell discusses the significance of former president Jimmy Carter’s recent trip to Beijing, where he was treated offhandedly by China’s leaders, and how the US might benefit from better understanding the “China Dream.”

Catastrophic Coltrane

Geoff Dyer

The interest of recordings from John Coltrane’s final phase—in which his playing became increasingly frenzied and the accompaniment more abstracted—lies partly in what they preserve and partly in any hints they contain as to where Trane might have headed next.

In the Dark of the Museum

Cathleen Schine

The rooms that hold the Museum of Natural History’s famous dioramas are vast and dimly lit. What happens in the darkness of the museum itself is quite different from the stillness of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s new book, Dioramas, a collection of his elegant black and white photographs of dioramas.