On the Spot: Khaled Hosseini

Ten years ago, Afghan-born author Khaled Hosseini found blockbuster fame with “The Kite Runner,” a tale of two boys set against the late-’70s fall of the Afghan monarchy. The novelist will discuss his new book, “And the Mountains Echoed,” Thursday at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue. Do you consider your audience when beginning a book? […]

A Step in the Rights Direction

To the ancient Greeks and Mesopotamians, the Persians were the neighbors from hell. There was an exception: Cyrus the Great, who launched the Persian Empire by conquering Babylon in 539 B.C. He was praised in the Bible’s book of Ezra and by the fourth-century B.C. Athenian historian Xenophon. The reason for their enthusiasm can be […]

Abnormal Artistry

Any art exhibition that features a faux stick of butter is clearly unconcerned with the grand and exalted. Sculptor Robert Gober’s particular butter stick — “Untitled (2003)” — is made of beeswax and is more than two feet long. The works in “Out of the Ordinary,” on view through May 19 at the Hirshhorn Museum and […]

Faces of Abstract Expression

The Phillips Collection calls the show “Angels, Demons, and Savages: Pollock, Ossorio, Dubuffet.” An alternate title might be “Faces in the Crowd.” Few of the intricately, exuberantly painted canvases in this exhibition, which runs through May 12, are purely abstract. The forms of living creatures often emerge from the welter of brushstrokes — even in […]

Even Better Than the Real Thing

The good thing about photography is that it apprehends reality exactly. But that’s its limitation, too. So almost as soon as the medium was invented, photographers began tinkering with images — to amuse, flatter and deceive. “Faking It: Manipulating Photography Before Photoshop” illustrates all that and more, with 200 or so photos made from the […]

Blurring the Lines

Ellsworth Kelly is a hard-edged man. The 89-year-old American abstractionist’s paintings feature hard geometric forms and stark single-color blocks. But Kelly took a more fluid approach for “Color Paper Images,” now on display at the National Gallery of Art. In these large-scale works, the shapes blur and the hues bleed. “The bleeding is a big […]

Another Dimension

If you think the art in Xavier Veilhan’s Phillips Collection exhibition “IN(Balance)” — the sculptures, the mobiles, the paintings and the photo-based works, both abstract and figurative — is all over the place, you should see where he works. “You’d be surprised; in my studio, there is a lot of junk,” the French multimedia artist […]

Fibers of Their Being

Is that a skull? Knitting and crocheting flaunt some serious attitude in “High Fiber: Women to Watch 2012,” a survey of work by seven textile artists from the U.S., Britain and France. In this National Museum of Women in the Arts show, even the occasional traditional item isn’t so traditional. Here are four of the […]

Character Building

German actress Nina Hoss seems to specialize in playing resilient women in harsh situations. In “Barbara,” opening Friday, she’s the title character, an East German doctor banished to a provincial hospital after becoming politically suspect. This follows roles as an abused wife who plots to kill her husband in 2008’s “Jerichow,” and as a woman repeatedly […]

Age-Old Power Struggle

Writer-director Nicholas Jarecki’s debut feature, “Arbitrage,” was inspired by the 2007 financial-sector meltdown, but it has a classic theme. The drama, starring Richard Gere as a hedge-fund manager who’s juggling business and personal crises, raises timeless questions about personal responsibility. “It’s a lot of people doing the wrong thing for the right reasons,” says Jarecki […]