Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Do Liars Make Better Artists?

“Oh! what a tangled web we weave,” Sir Walter Scott wrote in his 1808 epic poem Marmion, “When first we practice to deceive!” But what a pretty web it might be, researchers might add today. The idea that being a good liar helps one be a better actor, novelist, or painter isn’t a new one, but a group of business school professors recently put the idea to an empirical test and came up with some interesting conclusions about the connection between deceit and creativity. Not only might artists be better at lying, cheating, and general rule breaking, but it’s also possible that such behaviors might actually add to one’s creativity. At the risk of plunging the art world and the world in general into chaos, can we ignore the question of whether liars make better artists? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Do Liars Make Better Artists?"

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Richard Hamilton: The True King of Pop?

Michael Jackson proudly wore the crown as the “King of Pop” until his death in 2009. In the visual arts, at least for Americans, Andy Warhol’s ruled as the “King of Pop,” reigning as the prime example of Pop Art for the uninitiated as well as for connoisseurs. Most British (and more than a few American) art lovers, however, see Richard Hamilton as the true “King of Pop” and Warhol as just an upstart usurper to the throne. The Tate Modern’s new exhibition Richard Hamilton, which runs through May 26, 2014, provides not only a
survey of Hamilton’s greatest pop hits, but also a career-long survey that shows how he engaged with popular culture beyond just Warhol-esque celebrity and marketing gestures and got at the heart of what Pop Art should  and could be. Is Richard Hamilton the true “King of Pop”? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Richard Hamilton: The True King of Pop?"

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Does Cultural Big Data Amplify the Anxiety of Influence?

The only thing possibly worse than facing a creative blank is facing a creative overload—to find yourself drowning in a sea of influences with no guiding life preserver in sight. In a recent article in Wired, Paul Ford wrote about how “Netflix and Google Books Are Blurring the Line Between Past and Present” and creating what he calls “a history glut.” Although Ford focuses primarily on the “history glut” and delves momentarily into the “music history glut,” similar gluts can be seen in all the arts, especially the visual arts. Literary critic Harold Bloom coined the phrase “the anxiety of influence” in 1973 with no clue how that anxiety would blossom exponentially four decades later. Can artists today cope with that growing, digitally available anxiety to create their own art? Does cultural big data amplify the anxiety of influence? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Does Cultural Big Data Amplify the Anxiety of Influence?"

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Why Rap Artists Still Hate Ronald Reagan

“I leave you with four words: I'm glad Reagan dead,” Mike “Killer Mike” Render rapped in his song “Reagan” off the 2012 album R.A.P. Music. His harsh, inflammatory statements drew attention from the press at the time that only increased when the video’s similarly hyperbolic imagery (one example shown above) drew fire from conservatives. In the January/February 2014 issue of Art Papers, Dr. Joycelyn A. Wilson interviews Render and gets at the heart not only of “Reagan,” but also at the rap world’s general distaste for the 40th President of the United States, a man basically sainted by the right. Reagan’s presidency ended in 1989 and his life ended in 2004 after a long illness that kept him from the public eye, yet he remains a powerfully negative symbol for some decades later. Why do rap artists still hate Ronald Reagan? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Why Rap Artists Still Hate Ronald Reagan."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Can the Monuments Men Save the Art History Major?

During his recent State of the Union Address, President Obama went for a cheap laugh line by questioning the value of an art history degree. Although he later half apologized, Obama stuck by the well-worn argument that if something doesn’t have immediate economic value, then it has no value at all. The President’s timing seems poor considering the recent release of George Clooney’s new film, The Monuments Men, which tells the story of how some members of “The Greatest Generation” were not only also art history majors, but also contributed to the preservation and restoration of civilization after World War II. That State of the Union joke reminds us that the battle for the humanities’ place in society goes on. The Monuments Men saved Europe’s art treasures from the hands of Hitler, but can they save today’s art history major from irrelevance? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Can the Monuments Men Save the Art History Major?"

Thursday, February 6, 2014

How Michael Palin Broke the Silence of The Helga Paintings

Not many art stories make the cover of both TIME and Newsweek in the same week, but the revelation of Andrew Wyeth’s infamous “Helga Paintings” in 1986 caused a news stir that spilled outside the confines of the culture sections. The tale included all the ingredients of a ripping yarn for the masses—deceit, fame, big money, and a pinch of sex to spice things up. The “Helga” of the “Helga Paintings,” Helga Testorf, fled the paparazzi at the time and maintained her silence both about the paintings themselves and the nature of her relationship with Wyeth before, during, and years after their creation. In the BBC Program Michael Palin in Wyeth’s World, former Monty Python member and amateur art historian Michael Palin finally entices Helga from the shadows to speak about the paintings and the painter. What she shares raises new questions about the works as well as what the legacy of Andrew Wyeth should be. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "How Michael Palin Broke the Silence of The Helga Paintings."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How Charlie Parker Became "Bird!"

“How do you do that?” young Charlie Parker would ask older musicians. “Would you please do that again?” Those who know jazz, or who only know of jazz greats such as the man many have known simply as “Bird,” might have trouble imagining those questions coming from Parker. The standard mythology of Bird-ology holds that Charlie Parker discovered a whole new way of playing all by himself that changed the game of jazz instantly. Like a bolt from the blue, Parker struck like Kansas City lightning. Stanley Crouch’s Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker, the first of a proposed two-part biography of the saxophonist, brings the lightning and the thunder, but more importantly explains where the force of nature Parker became came from. Starting with the thriving Kansas City jazz scene of the first third of the 20th century and concluding with Parker’s artistic arrival in New York City, Crouch paints a biographical portrait of the troubled artist against the larger musical, cultural, and historical landscapes of the times. In the end, you’ll find that Bird, the quintessentially original artist, grew from a set of long traditions that both kept him grounded and gave him the wings to fly. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "How Charlie Parker Became 'Bird!'"