Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Best Art Books of 2012

For the third year running, here’s a very personal, very subjective, “I can’t read everything, so I probably left out something, so mention it in the comments, OK?” list of the best art books of 2012 in no particular order, along with links to my reviews. To see the list, please come over to Picture This at Big Think.

[Many thanks to all the publishers and museums that provided me with review copies and other press materials in 2012. You all make my job so much easier with your kindness, generosity, and professionalism.]

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Imagining Peace This Holiday Season

This holiday season, perhaps more than any other recent holiday season, the greatest gift we can ask for is peace. Thanks to Yoko Ono’s IMAGINE PEACE (photo above), a synchronized video program on 15 of the largest digital screens in New York City’s Times Square running each night through the rest of 2012 just before midnight, that dream of peace takes visible form, at least for a few fleeting moments.  John Lennon’s songImagine” calls for a pie-in-the-sky dream of peace and harmony, but what are the holidays for if not for imagining a world better than it is right now? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Imagining Peace This Holiday Season."

[Image: Yoko Ono’s IMAGINE PEACE, featured nightly at 11:57 pm until midnight every night throughout December 30 as part of the Times Square Moment: A Digital Gallery, a presentation of the Times Square Advertising Coalition (TSAC) and Times Square Arts. Photo by Ka-Man Tse.]

John Cage: Guiding Spirit of American Modern Art?

In 1951, musical composer and overall art theorist John Cage (shown above) stepped into an anechoic chamber at Harvard University. Touted as the quietest place on Earth, the anechoic chamber offered the chance for Cage finally to experience the silence he had been pursuing in his music. But rather than complete silence, Cage found himself bombarded with sounds he later learned were the workings of his own nervous system and blood circulation. Total silence, it seemed, existed nowhere. If sound was everywhere, then music was everywhere—and everything was music. That cognitive jump, combined with Cage’s explorations into Zen Buddhism, helped him spread his ideas to other forms of art, particularly the visual arts. That story and many others appear in Kay Larson’s beautifully written book, Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists. But did Cage really break new ground, or did he simply repeat what Marcel Duchamp and his readymades said decades before? That question weighs heavily on both Larson’s book and Cage’s legacy. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "John Cage: Guiding Spirit of American Modern Art?"