New writing: Quarantine architecture, autofiction, Donald Judd

It's been a while!

Art from my New Yorker piece on architecture during and after COVID-19.

Dear readers,

It’s been a while since I sent out a newsletter! I’m sorry. My book came out January 20, then I had the big New York City launch and the tour dates, then I got settled back in D.C. at the end of February, went back to New York once to record a podcast, and then we were all settled on a long-term basis.

Quarantine has been an endless(ly fascinating) experience. On the positive side, there’s lots of time to think about stuff and consume various forms of culture. Jess & I have watched more TV than ever before, and actually bought a TV. I beat the Zelda video game Breath of the Wild. I haven’t beaten a video game since high school. On the negative side, it’s impossible to think about anything. Cooking was entertaining until it wasn’t, though the inspiration still comes back periodically. I always feel like I’m totally bored, but then two weeks later, I come to realize that I still had new depths to reach. I wonder when that will stop.

The Black Lives Matter protests are even more impactful as they overcome and provide a way out of our collective stasis. It seems like helicopters haven’t stopped flying over our apartment for weeks. I wrote a short piece about the mural that was painted on the road here in front of the White House; for donations, I like Act Blue’s split fund and the Black Visions Collective arts organization in Minnesota.

New writing:

How the Coronavirus Will Reshape Architecture (New Yorker) (a feature!)

The Mimetic Power of D.C.’s Black Lives Matter Mural (New Yorker)

On MoMA’s Donald Judd retrospective and Minimalism’s legacy (New Republic)

On Kate Zambreno’s new novel Drifts and self-isolation (New Republic)

On Jerry Saltz’s advice book and the aspirational artist lifestyle (New Republic)

Quarantine Consumerism (Vox)

Domestic Inferiors: The tyranny of Zoom backgrounds (Curbed)

Listen to me on podcasts:

Hyperallergic Podcast, talking with Hrag Vartanian about our obsession with less and the influence of Silicon Valley

Dialogues: The David Zwirner Podcast, talking with Lucas Zwirner about Donald Judd and Minimalism (duh)


TV about Catherine the Great: There are two different shows about Catherine the Great you can watch right now. One is a four-episode miniseries on HBO starring Helen Mirren as a post-coup Catherine, magisterial and decisive. The other is the first season of The Great, a kind of riff on Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette with Elle Fanning instead of Kirsten Dunst but funnier and dirtier, though maybe equally anachronistic. They’re both characteristically great. The Great is probably better but takes a while to get going.

Handmade noodles: I bought a ton of chili oil from Xian Famous Foods. Of course, the best thing to put it on is handmade noodles. We’ve made them 3-4 times! They’re not that hard, just two parts flour to one part water, basically. This recipe is totally good. But you really need to make ground pork with soy sauce and shaoxing wine and then have carrots and parsley to put on top with a mixture of chili oil and black vinegar and soy. So good.

An art historical biography: Julian Barnes’s The Man in the Red Coat is the book I got most wrapped up in over these months. It’s not an artist biography, though it’s about a Sargent painting. It’s more a portrait of a particular cultural scene, and one connoisseur within that scene. A pioneering surgeon, collector, patron. Very escapist with amazing image reproductions. Worth getting in hardcover, in my opinion.

I hope you’re all doing as well as can be.

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