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4+1 Good Reasons to Visit Latin America

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November 21 through 25, a.k.a. Thankgsiving Weekend 2012, is a good time to be in Latin America. It's warm, your weird aunt probably won't be there, and you don't have to eat bone-dry turkey leftovers for days. It is also when Festival 4+1 takes place.

The 4+1 film fest is held simultaneously in Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, and Madrid, which is where the good people of Fundación Mapfre, the event's organizers, are based.

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Artist Yayoi Kusama's Three New Ventures

Yayoi Kusama bag

Three reasons we’ll be seeing spots, courtesy of 83-year-old Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

• New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art hosted Kusama’s first U.S. show in 15 years. Open July 12-September 30—following stops in Madrid, Paris, and London—it presented work from her six-decade career, including immersive mirrored rooms that appeared to go on forever.

• Recently released in English, Kusama’s autobiography, Infinity Net (University of Chicago Press), recounts her colorful life, from hanging out with Donald Judd and Andy Warhol in 1960’s New York to her years in a Tokyo psychiatric hospital, where she still lives today.

• The Princess of Polka Dots has collaborated with Louis Vuitton on a new line of ready-to-wear looks and accessories—which means we’re still seeing her splashy creations long after the Whitney retrospective closed in September.

Photo courtesy Louis Vuitton

Four Standouts on the Fall 2012 Arts Calendar

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With so many options on this season’s arts calendar, how’s a traveler to choose? Here are four standouts.

Opera: Milan’s fabled Teatro alla Scala devotes most of this season to titans Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner, both of whom celebrate their bicentennials in 2013. Wagner’s Lohengrin kicks off the party in a new production starring tenor Jonas Kaufmann, who looks and sounds like a Wagnerian god. Dec. 7–27.

Theater: Jessica Chastain, known for her Oscar-nominated turn in The Help, comes to Broadway in the title role of The Heiress, adapted from Henry James’s Washington Square. David Strathairn, Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens, and director Moisés Kaufman (I Am My Own Wife) round out the pedigreed production. Opens Nov. 1.

Art: “Impressionism and Fashion,” a groundbreaking exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris, will consider the relationship between Manet, Degas, Caillebotte, and other painters and the then-emerging fashion industry, pairing Impressionist masterpieces with rarely exhibited finery of 19th-century Parisians. Sept. 25–Jan. 20.

Dance: American Ballet Theatre star David Hallberg is also a premier danseur at Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet. It’s an intriguing partnership: the Russian company is legendary for its bravura style, while Hallberg is a paragon of classical restraint. See the results of the cross-pollination this season, when Hallberg dances signature roles in Swan Lake and Jewels. Sept.–Dec.

Photo by iStockphoto

Having Language Trouble Overseas? Find a German

Language Troubles Overseas

We Americans often feel insecure when we can't speak other languages when we travel overseas. Granted, maybe not insecure enough to actually learn another language—but smiling, nodding, and frequently yelling "Merci!" is a good start, right?

The good news: It turns out we may not be the world's biggest linguistic laggards. According to a recent TripAdvisor survey of Europeans, the British ranked as the worst at speaking another tongue when traveling. Only 11 percent of those surveyed could speak another language fluently, while 22 percent of them couldn't speak even one word in another language. Plus, a whopping 74 percent of Britons expected people overseas to be able to speak English.

So what about those stats that say that half of all Europeans are fluent in another language, compared to the 18 percent of Americans? That holds true in Italy and France, where 51 and 50 percent, respectively, can speak fluently in another language, according to the survey. The Germans, meanwhile, blow the curve, boasting 70 percent who are fluent in another language (and only 1 percent is clueless in another tongue).

In defense of the Brits (and ourselves), we could say that the other Europeans are just making it too easy for us to be linguistically lazy, at least in the Eurozone. It's a good bet, after all, that the second language all those Germans, French and Italians speak is English.

Photo © Chad Ehlers/ Alamy

Culture Shout Out: "The Scream" Goes on Display at MoMA in NYC

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Starting at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow, expect a line–a very long line–out the door at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and learn to deal with it; it’ll be a fixture on the West 53rd streetscape for a while.

For the next six months, MoMA is hosting an exhibition dedicated to the work of Norwegian Symbolist painter Edvard Munch whose iconic portrait, The Scream (1895) the show's centerpiece, and a lucid depiction of modern existential angst, is on display in a single gallery on the fifth floor, alongside other works from the same period gathered from the museum's permanent holdings.

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British Composer Thomas Adès Takes New York by Storm

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One of the most highly anticipated events of the New York cultural season—The Tempest by British composer Thomas Adès—blows onto the stage of the Metropolitan Opera this week.  The work, based on the Shakespeare play about betrayal, retribution, and the redeeming power of love, had its premiere in 2004 at London’s Royal Opera House and garnered for the 32-year-old Adès critical acclaim and popular success. Since then, the contemporary work has made a strong bid for a place in the operatic repertoire, and after productions in Germany and the American premiere by the Santa Fe OperaThe Tempest arrives in New York, in a staging by Robert Lepage.

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Dogpatch: San Francisco's Newest Creative Neighborhood

Dogpatch, San Francisco

Take a vibrant mix of Victorians and historic warehouses. Fill them with inventive boutiques and restaurants. Add an industrial waterfront district—and you’ve got San Francisco’s newest creative epicenter.

Yellow Building

The area’s beating heart is an 1890’s stable that now houses Piccino ($$)—a convivial restaurant dedicated to thin-crust pizzas and small plates—as well as an outpost of Modern Appealing Clothing, known for avant-garde fashions, and Dig, a wine shop and bar. Minnesota and 22nd Sts.

Workshop Residence

Head here for goods crafted by hand on-site, including silk crepe dresses from Paris-based designer Aurore Thibout and wood-and-leather wedges from local artisan Martha Davis. 833 22nd St.

Chocolate Lab

Cult brand Recchiuti Confections’ long-awaited café serves rich desserts such as mandarin-chocolate-mousse cake and lime-meringue tartlets. A few doors down is Little Nib, their new retail shop. 801 22nd St.

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Costume Retrospective Opens at London's V&A

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Calling all (fashion-loving) cinaphiles: the most iconic outfits in film history are on display at The V&A’s autumn exhibition, “Hollywood Costume” (October 20, 2012 to January 27, 2013). Exploring the central role costume design plays in storytelling, the retrospective brings together clothes worn by unforgettable characters, from Indiana Jones and Jack Sparrow to Scarlett O’Hara and Holly Golightly.

Photo by 20th Century Fox / Paramount / The Kobal Collection

NYC Hoedown: American Ballet Theatre Celebrates "Rodeo"

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When American Ballet Theatre revives this week at New York City Center its production of Rodeo, it celebrates the 70th anniversary of a milestone: the first truly American ballet, with an evocative score by Aaron Copland, painterly sets by Oliver Smith, and the groundbreaking choreography of Agnes de Mille. De Mille’s dance combined classical ballet with Broadway and popular styles, including square dance, pantomime (cowboys ride imaginary horses and rope cattle), and an exuberant tap dance solo.

Tap dance in ballet?  In this Western love story, where a cowgirl falls in love with a champion roper who dazzles with a tap tour de force—de Mille’s novel use of tap dance was and remains a showstopper.  And in a lead up to the ABT’s performances of the landmark Rodeo, ABT dancers, including Craig Salstein, who performs the role of the champion roper, gave tap dance lessons to 100 New York City public school children at South Street Seaport.

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Frieze Art Fair Opens in London

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In London this weekend? Don't miss the 10th annual Frieze Art Fair (Oct. 11 - 14), in Regent’s Park. With 170 participating contemporary art galleries from 34 countries (not to mention the splashy May launch of a sister fair in New York), this is its most international year yet. One major highlight: the inaugural Frieze Masters, a sort of fair-within-a-fair exhibiting works that date back to ancient times—an unprecedented move for Frieze, which has to date focused solely on living artists. Set on Gloucester Green in a temporary structure designed by New York–based architect Annabelle Selldorf with transparent walls and silver birch trees, it's all about old meeting new.

—Christine Ajudua is Travel + Leisure's London correspondent.

Credit: Gaetano Gandolfi (Bologna 1734 -1802 Bologna); Venus ordering armour for Aeneas at Vulcan's forge

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