Majesty, Vehemence, Splendor’

Andrew Butterfield

National Gallery, London

Paolo Veronese’s prodigious facility, love of magnificence, and untroubled service to the dreams of wealthy clients were all counted against him for much of the twentieth century. Few great artists have seemed less radical or rebellious. But this reaction overlooks his own ambitions as a painter as revealed in The Family of Darius before Alexander. He worked with breathtaking dispatch and unerring certainty, and was able to create almost any effect.

China: Detained to Death

Renee Xia and Perry Link

Chinese Human Rights Defenders

It is crucial to understand what happened to Cao Shunli, a Chinese legal rights activist who had a chronic liver condition when she was detained last year. She died on March 14 after being denied treatment in prison—a pattern that has emerged with other Chinese detainees.

Six Chairs in Search of an Audience

Tim Parks

Roger Viollet/Getty Images

When you head for the exit in the cinema, something I do fairly often, you possibly bother the person next to you for a few seconds, but you can’t upset what’s happening on the screen. As for a book, no one will be disturbed or offended when you send it off with the old newspapers for recycling. The theater is quite different, especially the small, intimate stages where experimental material first gets an airing.

Ways of Being Alien

Geoffrey O’Brien

A24 Films

At any given moment in Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, we might be watching a fantastic tale dressed up in documentary trappings or a mass of documentary footage held together by the wisp of a fantasy. The fantastic element resides essentially in the person of Scarlett Johansson, who while often naked is at the same time entirely concealed.

Engineering Elegance

Martin Filler

Cecil Beaton/Vogue/Condé Nast

The highly constructed garments created by the Anglo-American Charles James (1906–1978)—who is the subject of a new retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art—are such feats of fabric engineering that they can stand up by themselves. This is all the more striking in view of the era in which he reached the height of his career. During the 1930s, women’s clothing was generally limp and clinging, but James was able to achieve strong, sculptural shapes with stiff materials like grosgrain and taffeta that stood away from the body.

The Beauty in Her Sacrifice

Ian Buruma


If there was one subject that obsessed the Japanese master film director Kenji Mizoguchi it was that of women sacrificing themselves for their men. He was himself a great patron of brothels and geisha houses, but he felt so strongly about the awful fate of women that he once stood up in a room full of prostitutes and begged their forgiveness.

Ukraine—The Way Out

Anatol Lieven

Jerome Sessini/Magnum Photos
As the first heavy fighting began in eastern Ukraine in early May, there has been a growing sense that a larger confrontation, one that could involve Russia and the West, may be unavoidable. Such a perception is a terrible mistake. There is nothing inevitable about the future course of the conflict. It is absolutely essential for Western governments to focus on what they can do to avoid war, preserve democracy, and keep Ukraine united.

The Limits of Lyndon Johnson

Elizabeth Drew

Evgenia Eliseeva

The new Broadway play All the Way presents President Lyndon Johnson dominating Congress and, through a combination of willpower, guile, wit, and near-bribery, browbeating it into passing the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. But this isn’t what happened.

Stupid Questions

Tim Parks

Abner Dean

Most writers complain about the people who come to hear them talk. Or rather the questions they ask. It’s time to wonder whether these people are really asking dumb questions. Why are writers so determined to focus exclusively on their novels, as if there were no continuity between writing and life?