The Sleeve Should Be Illegal


In New York City, well-justified praise has gone to Frick Madison, the Frick Collection’s new temporary pop-up in the brutalist building originally designed for the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Comparatively under the radar has been the latest creation of the Frick’s inventive editor-in-chief, Michaelyn Mitchell: the book “The Sleeve Should Be Illegal & Other Reflections on Art at the Frick.”

The Sleeve Should Be IllegalWithin the 168-pages, 62 noteworthy individuals explain why a Frick-owned artwork holds personal significance to them. The idea was sparked by the artist Darren Waterston, who recalled over dinner his annual visits to commune with Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert.

The book’s unusual title is lifted from writer Jonathan Lethem’s intriguing contribution about Holbein’s portrait of Sir Thomas More, whose sleeve appears on the cover.

Among the other contributors are — as you might expect — artists (e.g., John Currin) and writers (André Aciman), but also musicians like Rosanne Cash and Bryan Ferry, choreographers Bill T. Jones and Mark Morris, fashion designers Carolina Herrera and Victoria Beckham, and — to our delight — Fine Art Connoisseur contributing writer David Masello. The foreword has been written by critic Adam Gopnik.

Mitchell says their texts are “by turns confessional, contemplative, academic, even comedic. All are engaging testaments not only to the authors’ affection for the Frick and for specific artworks in the collection but, more generally, to the deep emotional response, inspiration, and enrichment that can come from connecting with a work of art.”


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