Alan Wallach

  • Trouble in Paradise

    THE VICTORY BANQUET IS THE model patriotic celebration. Here history’s winners pay tribute to themselves. The Bicentennial promised to be such an occasion—a year of national self-congratulation. As it turned out, Vietnam, Watergate and an unrelenting economic crisis dampened the festival mood. Yet if the Bicentennial was haunted by the ghosts of the present, it discreetly avoided them by shifting attention to the nation’s past. Bicentennial celebrations featured reenactments of Revolutionary War battles, Tall Ships, etc. Like the movie epics which in some ways they resembled, these historical

  • Ways of Seeing

    John Berger, Ways Of Seeing, based on a television series with John Berger (New York: The Viking Press, 160 pages), illustrated, hardbound.

    Judging from the praise accorded his criticism as well as the cries of outrage—“before John Berger manages to interpose himself again between us and the visible meaning of a good picture, may I point out . . .”1—John Berger is in danger of being condemned to a gadfly role. This would be greatly to underrate the depth and seriousness of his critical undertaking. Berger is one of the few marxist art critics in the English-speaking world (perhaps the only one

  • Thomas Cole

    THOMAS COLE HAS ALWAYS BEEN ACKNOWLEDGED as an important figure in the history of American art. This is not to say he has always been appreciated. Jonas Mekas recently wrote that one might learn something about light from Cole’s paintings; this despite the fact that Cole was “bad and stupid.” Mekas’ remarks are a fair measure of how far we have come in our appreciation of Cole’s art—and also how far we may yet have to go before we can come to terms with it.

    I am not convinced that Cole was either bad or stupid. Nor do I think anyone partial to Cole need apologize for the complexities of his oeuvre