Fine Art Connoisseur


In this historic year of elemental iconoclasm, when monuments to yesterday’s flawed heroes and Confederate generals alike are dishonored or ripped down, perhaps it is strange to speak of the importance of sharing humanity’s great ideas. Although it is easy to be discouraged by the graffiti, boarded-up windows, and overall mood of destructive anarchy, now — more than ever — we need to be reminded of the good ideas that have shaped us, and to prioritize them over those that are evil.

Mobs tearing at the scabbed sins of history cannot erase its wounds, but their destructive zeal will change the aesthetic priorities of our shared cityscapes, sometimes perhaps for the better. After the spray paint and shattered stones have been removed, empty plinths will remind us that society once prioritized the evil of inequality, and now it does not. It is likely that decades will pass before new sculptures fill these empty spaces, for the fragile sphere of public discourse is too easily punctured by insensitive choices, and well-intentioned committees will slow their procedures to a crawl. All public art is political, and there is little chance of finding consensus in this divided time.

Because public art is frozen, we will have to depend upon private patronage to nurture the big ideas of our time. But what are they? The Israeli scholar Yuval Noah Harari’s epic survey of the big ideas, (2015), has inspired the brilliant painter Adam Miller (b. 1979) and his patron Salvatore Guerrera to produce an ambitious cycle of four 8-by-10-foot oil paintings. Together these scenes will span human history and reveal its most important strands: the cognitive revolution

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