Julie Ardery

Julie Ardery is the author of The Temptation: Edgar Tolson and the
Genesis of Twentieth Century Folk Art
. A sociologist, art critic, and poet,
she lives in Austin, Texas.

Recent Articles

What Happened to Art?

The Invention of Art: A Cultural History By Larry Shiner. University of Chicago Press, 382 pages, $35.00 The Invisible Masterpiece By Hans Belting. Translated by Helen Atkins. University of Chicago Press, 480 pages, $45.00 How the mighty have fallen. From such soul-vaulting achievements as Michelangelo's David , marble buttocks and glowering determination fit to shake the world, the splendor of art has vaporized. Take your own potshot. Here's mine: Last year at the Venice Biennale -- an international showcase of new artwork -- the U.S.A. pavilion featured installations by Robert Gober, several rooms bare but for a few framed news clippings, empty gin bottles, and a toilet plunger stationed on a plank. What happened? How in the name of Art did we get from the rose window of Chartres Cathedral to Gober's pint bottles? Larry Shiner's Invention of Art and Hans Belting's Invisible Masterpiece take up such questions. Shiner, a philosophy professor, and Belting, an art historian, have...

Art and Fellowship

Visionaries and Outcasts: The NEA, Congress, and the Place of the Visual Arts in America, by Michael Brenson. The New Press, 157 pages, $25.00. In the United States, we like our artists nobly bereft, taking literally Percy Bysshe Shelley's description of poets as "the unacknowledged legislators of the world." When artists stoop to seek acknowledgment, the priestly skullcaps fall off. Yikes! These are just people who--like us--want to be famous, or at least pay for mammograms and send the kids to college. We'd like to see artists go on working--but won't subsidy, especially from prosaic, real-life legislators, ruin them? The title of Michael Brenson's Visionaries and Outcasts spells out the holy and lonely requirements we have set for artists. His book, which tends to echo these Romantic expectations, describes how such ideals fared under 35 years of federal arts administration. Brenson is looking back at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)--specifically, its embattled, and now...

The Enchantress

Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay By Nancy Milford. Random House, 550 pages, $29.95 What Lips My Lips Have Kissed: The Loves and Love Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay By Daniel Mark Epstein. Henry Holt and Company, 300 pages, $25.00 The Selected Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay Edited and with an introduction by Nancy Milford. Modern Library, 167 pages, $16.95 The lyric gift is hard to sustain. How can you keep all that tension on the emotional string without stiffening into routines of feeling or, as poet Edna St. Vincent Millay did, tightening, tightening till it all goes pop? Two new biographies show Millay's lifelong efforts to whet her own intensity and capture ecstasy in poetic form. Into the golden vessel of great song Let us pour all our passion; . . . Longing alone is singer to the lute; Let still on nettles in the open sigh The minstrel, that in slumber is as mute As any man, and love be far and high, That else forsakes the topmost branch, a fruit Found on...