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A former director of The Society of the Four Arts once described the 86-year-old institution as akin to a liberal arts college, so rich and nourishing were its cultural offerings.
That idea will be on view in abundance this coming 2022-23 season, which is the first one in a few years not to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Four Arts officials last week released the complete schedule for the season; in addition to its Campus on the Lake series, book discussions and speaker series, the society offers an expansive roster of arts exhibitions and musical performances.
“The Society of the Four Arts is proud to have scheduled another full season of programs for 2022-2023, featuring four art exhibitions, 20 live performances, and 20 high-definition screenings from our cultural partners The Metropolitan Opera, National Theatre Live, and Great Art on Screen,” Four Arts spokesman David Darby said.
Opening Dec. 3 at the Esther B. O’Keeffe Gallery is Hard Bodies: Contemporary Japanese Lacquer Sculpture, an exhibit of 33 works by 16 artists working in the ancient urushi, or lacquer, tradition, but putting it to new uses beginning in the 1980s. The traveling exhibition, which is billed as the first-ever survey of such sculpture, draws the works from the collections at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. The show runs through Jan. 22.
Next up is Contemplating Character: Portrait Drawings and Oil Sketches from Jacques-Louis David to Lucian Freud, which examines the history of portraiture from the 18th century until the present. Included in the display, which opens Feb. 4 and closes April 2, are 81 works by artists including Aubrey Beardsley, Edgar Degas and Pierre Bonnard, as well as David and Freud.
Running concurrently with that show is a survey of landscapes by the contemporary Austrian artist Eduard Angeli. The 11 works in Eduard Angeli: Cities on Water are large landscapes depicting three water-fronting cities: Venice, St. Petersburg (Russia) and Istanbul, the latter being where Angeli began his career in the late 1960s following his graduation from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. The show marks the 80-year-old Angeli’s first exhibit in the United States, and was curated by Four Arts Chief Executive Officer Philip Ryland.
The last art show of the season is devoted to photography, specifically of African wildlife. The second annual Benjamin Mkapa African Wildlife Photography Awards will announce the winners this October in Nairobi, after which the collection will travel, arriving at the Four Arts on April 26 and running through June 4. The awards are named after a former president of Tanzania who was a supporter of wildlife conservation, and are sponsored by the African Wildlife Foundation and Nature’s Best Photography.
All of the art exhibits will take place in the O’Keeffe Gallery. Admission is $10, but free for society members and children 14 and younger.
In the Gubelmann Auditorium across the hall from the O’Keeffe Gallery, the Four Arts’ musical performances will include the Emerson String Quartet (Jan. 29), which is in the middle of its farewell tour; veteran American pianist Emanuel Ax (Jan. 8); the Dutch piano duo of brothers Lucas and Arthur Jussen (Feb. 12); the Romeros Guitar Quartet (Jan. 22); and on Nov. 30, a holiday concert from the San Francisco male vocal ensemble, Chanticleer (“A Chanticleer Christmas”).
The Four Arts continues its collaboration with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in March, with pianist Wu Han presenting three programs under the rubric “Schubert Revealed.” The programs (March 5, 8 and 12) examine the work of Franz Schubert through the connections between his songs and instrumental works; by his compositional influences, especially Beethoven; and through the works of late period, including the String Quintet in C.
In addition to classical music, the Four Arts features bluegrass from Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers (April 16), and a jazz program Feb. 1 called “Sing and Swing: Our American Songbook,” featuring members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, vocalists and trumpeters Bria Skonberg and Benny Benack III.
Special this year is a performance March 22 by the National Dance Company of the Republic of Georgia, on its first U.S. tour. Its program, “Fire of Georgia,” spotlights the folk music and culture of that Transcaucasian country.
Also out of the ordinary is “Winter Journey,” a two-part event featuring Winter Journey, a 2019 film starring Bruno Ganz based on a memoir by longtime NPR classical music host Martin Goldsmith, whose musician parents escaped the Nazis (March 23; Goldsmith will be present for a Q&A), and on March 29, a concert tied to the memoir and film featuring a winds-and-piano sextet performing music by composers silenced by the Holocaust.
The Esther B. O’Keeffe Speakers Series opens in January with 13 speakers including the Spanish opera star Placido Domingo, talking about his life in music (Jan. 28); retired Gen. David Petraeus (Jan. 10) on American leadership in the world; Palm Beachers Leonard Lauder (Jan. 3) and Ken Griffin (March 7); Fox News commentator Jesse Watters (Feb. 21); photographer Sally Mann (March 28); and Christie’s deputy chairman John Hays (Jan. 17), who will discuss the American art market and Emanuel Leutze’s painting Washington Crossing the Delaware, which recently sold for $45 million.
Continuing this year as well are film series including nine performances (some live, some previously recorded) from New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The series opens Dec. 3 with Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, starring Palm Beach County’s own Nadine Sierra as Lucia. Britain’s National Theatre is seen in five plays including Shakespeare’s Henry V (Jan. 28), starring Kit Harrington of Game of Thrones in the title role.
Also on film is Great Art on Screen, a collection of five documentaries from Nov. 20 through April 15, including a look at Italian modernist Amedeo Modigliani (Dec. 11). In addition, there is a filmed rendition of The Nutcracker (Dec. 17), as performed by the ballet company of the National Opera of Ukraine.
Finally, there is a series of 19 movies, all of recent vintage, opening with Sam Mendes’ 2019 story of World War I, 1917 (Nov. 18). Most are shown twice, and cost $10 apiece.
Not to be overlooked is the society's Campus on the Lake lifelong learning programs, which offer a host of educational events including a series on playwright George Bernard Shaw by British theater director Richard Digby Day, and "A Survey of Southern Culture," by Taylor Hagood, a professor of American literature at Florida Atlantic University.
Also on tap are talks by conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas; Hugo Vickers, an expert on Britain's royal family; Interview Magazine founder Bob Colacello; and author Andrea Wulf, who will be discussing her latest historical work, Magnificent Rebels: The First Romantics and the Invention of the Self.
Meanwhile, the Gioconda and Joseph King Library continues its Florida Voices Author Series and book discussion groups Talk of Kings, Page Turners, and Biography Book Club.
Family-friendly programs include “Carols on the Lawn,” performed by the Palm Beach Atlantic University Choir (Dec. 4), and the children's ballet Rita Finds Home (Feb. 25), performed by the Miami City Ballet School and Chicago's Joffrey Academy of Dance.
Tickets for most programs go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. Nov. 1, “and we hope patrons take advantage of our diverse cultural offerings in person,” Darby said.
Face masks are optional indoors, he said, and virtual and recorded programs also will be available throughout the season at fourarts.org. For additional information, visit fourarts.org or call 561-655-7226.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Daily News: Society of the Four Arts reveals its 2022-23 season