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Saturday, October 02, 2004

And the Verdict Is....

The much ballyhooed new Arts & Leisure section of The New York Times landed on print subscribers' doorsteps this morning.

I got it half right in the prediction I made yesterday. It's the same old stuff, but with about the same amount of advertising.

The visual arts are featured in three pieces: a preview of a Met exhibition of Chinese antiquities, a close reading of a seventeenth-century Indian watercolor, and an appreciation of some pictures of Marilyn Monroe in the current exhibition of Life magazine photographs on view at the ICP. None of the Times's marquee critics makes an appearance in the section. As usual, the Sunday visual arts coverage is perfectly pitched to an affluent, suburban, AARP readership.

The close reading is an interesting idea, but it's quickly going to go stale if it's planned as a regular feature--especially if the Times is going to include another one in the magazine regularly like it does this weekend. Has the Times discovered close reading all of a sudden? And is this the big breakthrough they are bringing to arts and cultural coverage? Slow that bus down! Don't know if I can hang on.

If it weren't for a few new typefaces in the section and a new page of Choire Sicha's picks for each day of the upcoming week, I wouldn't have been able to tell that anything was different.

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