Sunday, January 30, 2011
Watching American media outlets attempt to cover the events happening in Egypt over the past few days reminded me of just how ignorant we are about the rest of the world. For many Americans, Egypt remains the land of pharaohs, mummies, and pyramids and not the modern state so connected to the rest of the globe that the world-wide economic troubles finally trickled down the Nile and inspired the masses to protest against the ruling body. And, yet, pharaohs, mummies, and pyramids do play a part in the story of the past week in Egypt—a tragic tale. Details remain sketchy, but it seems pretty certain that damage has been done to antiquities in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, home to the world’s biggest collection of pharaonic treasures, including the mummy of Queen Hatshepsut (Egypt’s only female pharaoh) and the greatest Egyptian artifact of them all—King Tutankhamun’s Golden Mask. King Tut rose to fame in the 20th century because tomb raiders never found his final resting place. Sadly, a new generation of tomb raiders might destroy in one sad moment of chaos what their predecessors missed over millennia. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Tomb Raiders."
Saturday, January 29, 2011
For Americans, the name Iran conjures certain key images—the Shah, the Revolution of 1979, the hostages, the Ayatollah Khomeini, and black chador-clad women. Worn as part of the Islamic code of hijab, the chador became a kind of visual symbol of the religious fundamentalism that took hold of Iran after the revolution. Filmmaker Robert Adanto’s new documentary Pearls on the Ocean Floor confronts and then strips away the clichés surrounding the chador through interviews with Iranian women artists. As in the fairy tale of the ugly duckling, a beautiful swan emerges from the darkness of this history in the body of work done by these courageous women artists. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Black Swan."
[Many thanks to RH Gallery for providing me with the image above and a review copy of the film Pearls on the Ocean Floor.]
Friday, January 28, 2011
Forgery is the bane of the art world. An artist passes his work off under another artist’s name and reaps financial gain. But what does it mean when a forger practices his trade for art’s sake without accepting a cent in return? In a recent issue of Financial Times, John Gapper documents the curious case of Mark Augustus Landis (shown above), a forger who for the past three decades donned disguises to coax museums across the United States to accept his work as a “donation” done by a name (but not too big a name) artist. As far as anyone can tell, Landis hasn’t broken any laws by asking for nothing in return for his art, but has he violated a different code through his actions? Or has this strange outlaw given a unique testimonial to the power of art to drive an individual to go to any lengths for self-expression? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Outlaw Artist."
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
The business world is full of what can be most kindly called “empty suits”—individuals who look the part but hollowly fulfill positions of power. In the art world, the empty suit isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when the “tailor” is Charles LeDray. In Charles LeDray: workworkworkworkwork, an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art through February 13, 2011, one of the best kept secrets of contemporary art comes out into the open. An artist working alone on meticulously detailed miniatures of everyday life, LeDray speaks of larger truths through a materialism that continually reminds us of emptiness. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Empty Suits."
[Image: Charles LeDray. Hole, 1998. Fabric, thread, plastic, wood, metal. 19¼ x 13½ x 2½ inches (48.9 x 34.3 x 6.4 cm). The Cartin Collection.]
[Many thanks to Rizzoli for providing me with the image above and a review copy of the catalog to Charles LeDray: workworkworkworkwork, an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art through February 13, 2011.]