Liz Regalia Lashway, Author at Ashley Hall

Ashley Hall Writers Series Presents: Art Critic and Writer, Jed Perl
March 21, 2022 | 6:30 p.m.
Burges Auditorium

This event is free and open to the public.

Ashley Hall’s Writers Series returns this month with an exciting evening with Jed Perl, acclaimed art critic, writer, and author of Authority and Freedom. The event will take place on campus at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 21, and is free and open for the public to attend.

Perl was the art critic for The New Republic for 20 years and a contributing editor to Vogue for a decade. He is currently a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books and is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Over his extraordinary career, Perl has published nine books, including Paris Without End, Antoine’s Alphabet, and New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century. His latest book, Authority and Freedom, is already receiving high industry praise.

During his evening on campus, Perl will be reading from his new book, and joined in conversation with Upper School faculty member Dr. Nick Bozanic. “I have come to expect any conversation with Jed to be challenging, insightful, informed by his vast erudition, and leavened by his generosity of spirit and expansive good humor,” says Bozanic. “I imagine our conversation here at Ashley Hall will be no different.”  

Perl will also spend time visiting Ashley Hall classrooms during his time in Charleston. He will meet with AP English students who will be reading a chapter from Authority and Freedom prior to his arrival. They will be primed to ask questions about his working method as well as his point of view on contemporary art. AP Art students are also planned to meet with Perl to learn more about his conception of the “stand alone” value of art rather than its topical or socio-political relevance.

“Jed’s visit will afford students the opportunity to engage with one of the most prominent and – in his field – provocative public intellectuals of our time,” says Bozanic. “He’s an individual who has devoted – and I use that term deliberately – his life to investigating fundamental questions about the nature of art, its vital role in human affairs, the ways it can be used and abused for personal profit and propaganda, and the many ways in which art, properly understood, nourishes our lives as surely and as vitally as the food we eat in order to survive.”

Praise for Perl’s latest book, Authority and Freedom:

“Jed’s book is a great and beautiful essay. It is great because it addresses a larger topic even than it claims to do….and he does so with an argument that is intended to address not just our moment, but the whole of the modern era in the arts. He does it effortlessly, too, and with a conversational air, a man at ease among the millennia, now in conversation with the Egyptian tomb painters, now with Aretha Franklin. Yes, a great and beautiful essay.” – Paul Berman, author of The Flight of the Intellectuals and Power and the Idealists

Jed Perl reminds us of Auden’s famous dictum that ‘poetry makes nothing happen.’ Like Auden, Perl wants to argue that art fettered by a concern for ‘relevance,’ art that aims to be politically correct, is shrunken compared to art that is allowed a critical measure of ‘freedom’—that is, art in its imaginative essence.” – John McWhorter, a New York Times Columnist and Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University

“Taking his turn in the long, long chronicle of art criticism, Perl stands today as our generation’s most masterly re-maker of genius.” – Cynthia Ozick, novelist and critic whose many works include Antiquities and The Puttermesser Papers

“A thoughtful meditation on the transcendence of art.” Kirkus Review

Books will be available for purchase from Blue Bicycle Books.

Please note: Parking is available in the Smith Street parking lot. Please enter campus through Smith Street gate and you will be directed to Burges Auditorium. 

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Ashley Hall is a K-12 independent school for girls, with a co-ed preschool, committed to a talented and diverse student population. We consider for admission students of any race, color, religion, and national or ethnic origin.