Word + Quiz: harlequin – The New York Times


noun: a clown or buffoon (after the Harlequin character in the commedia dell’arte)

verb: variegate with spots or marks to create a pattern of contrasting colors


The word harlequin has appeared in 25 articles on NYTimes.com in the past year, including on Feb. 27 in “The Many Moods and Pleasures of Donald Judd’s Objects” by Holland Cotter:

Major American and European museums owned his work. His signature sculptural image — a no-frills, no-content wood or metal box — had not only been adapted by other artists, but also riffs on it became a fixture of international architecture and design. To some degree, we all lived in Judd-world, and still do.

… In the 1980s he temporarily redirected his fabrication jobs to a firm in Switzerland. He simultaneously introduced a rainbow of harlequin colors — forest green, marigold, pink — to aluminum sculptures, as if circling back to the kooky roseate punch of his earliest objects, the ones that came from his own hands.


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