Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Should the White House Have an Artist-in-Residence?

Every May brings with it a new crop of college graduation speeches. This spring, few (maybe none) were as though-provoking as multimedia artist Laurie Anderson’s at the School of Visual Arts in New York City last week. Speaking in front of a graduating class of artists setting out on their careers (full video here), Anderson centered her talk on her experience as the first (and last) artist-in-residence at NASA. Weaving a fascinating argument on how mutually beneficial that relationship was, Anderson called for an artist-in-residence in the U.S. Congress, the Supreme Court, and even the White House. In an era of increasing budget cuts and demands for smaller government, is an artist-in-residence in the White House an unnecessary luxury or something we can’t afford not to have? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Should the White House Have anArtist-in-Residence?"

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Remembering Memorial Day in Pictures

Ironically, America as a nation seems to have forgotten exactly what Memorial Day is about. Barbeques, all-day sales, the “official” start of summer—all of these threaten to crowd out the parades, the memorials, and, worst of all, the people. How we picture Memorial Day says a lot about us as a culture and perhaps even more about where that culture is going. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Remembering Memorial Day in Pictures."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Could Someone Die Over This Painting?

Art isn’t usually a life or death matter, but the controversy over South African artist Brett Murray’s The Spear (detail shown above) might end in bloodshed. When Murray decided to paint South African President Jacob Zuma along the lines of a famous poster of Lenin, but with the added detail of prominent genitalia, he knew he was courting controversy but may not have realized just how heated (and dangerous) the debate would get. Now that the painting has been vandalized, it’s natural to ask if that violence might extend to the artist or to those who support his right to free expression. Could someone die over this painting? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Could Someone Die Over This Painting?"

[Image: Brett Murray. The Spear (detail), 2012.]

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How Daniel Clowes Reinvented Comic Books

“My earliest memory is of anxiety!” cartoonist Daniel Clowes tells an interviewer in The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist, the first serious monograph of the work of this seriously funny and seriously ambitious artist. Anxiety rules much of Clowes’ world, but it’s the anxiety that comes with questions of identity and belonging—all wrapped in a quirky and hilariously human package. “Unlike most writers and artists who take it for granted that human beings naturally seek each other’s company,” writes friend and fellow cartoonist Chris Ware, “Clowes seems to keep asking: What is it we really want from one another, anyway?” It’s Clowes’ complex technique matched with such deep questions as that one that lead at least one critic to claim that Daniel Clowes has reinvented comics. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "How Daniel Clowes Reinvented Comic Books."

[Image: Daniel Clowes. From Eightball no. 17, August 1996. Copyright Daniel Clowes.]

[Many thanks to Abrams ComicArts for providing me with the image above and a review copy of The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist, edited by Alvin Buenaventura.]

Saturday, May 19, 2012

How Andy Warhol Ended up in a Crater on Mercury

Andy Warhol looked for fame any place he could find it, so news that a crater on the surface of the planet Mercury has been named in his honor comes as no surprise. Warhol joined 22 other famous dead artists, musicians, and writers in that distinction recently, according to a NASA press release last month. It may seem like one small step for Warhol, but it actually might be one giant leap for late 20th century art’s acceptance on a universal level. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "How Andy Warhol Ended up in a Crater on Mercury."