Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Poet in New York in New York

I visited the "Poet in New York" exhibition at the New York Public Library this weekend. It contained a variety of his letters, drafts, and personal effects, such as his passport and his Columbia University library card.

A number of his drawings were on display, and the exhibition served to set those into the history of Spanish visual culture.

A number of his drawings were characterized as being evocative of the miniatures from Spanish apocalypses, appropriate for the apocalyptic character of some of the poems:

(Medieval apocalyptic allusions aside, this guy sort of looks like a vermicious knid:)

The exhibition did not just illustrate a poet drawing, but also artists as literary critics. A letter FGL received from Salvador Dali criticizes his poetry for appearing to think that it was bold but in fact trading in the most conservative, retreaded imagery. (I know it's petty-minded, but it made me feel a lot better about some really petty, off-base comments I just received back about an article. If Lorca was getting them too...) Generalism or dilettantism? Hobbyism? Well-roundedness?


NYPL also has an exhibition of children's books on right now. It was actually a bit tedious, which seems like it would be a challenge to achieve, given the subject matter. There were just a few things that I thought were interesting and on-point, though.

This is a Soviet-era Tartar textbook, written in the Tartar language in Arabic script. What I found interesting was NYPL's consignment of it to their department of Jewish manuscripts, considering that Tartars practice Islam.

They were also displaying a Bezalel alphabet book; and I'm just really partial to the work that came out of Bezalel during its classical period in the first half of the 20th century:


There was a ton of propaganda around for the Central Library Plan. I can't say that a giant blue arrow indicating the interment of all the research library makes me feel much better about the whole thing. Fortunately, the library leadership has agreed to an independent review of the plan, so all is not lost.


And because this is New York and this sort of thing happens, there was a group of middle-school Benjamin Franklin impersonators across the platform in the subway station.

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