This week, women in street art, the worst waiter in history, art market bubble, a broken Picasso plate, reviewing Chipotle lit, the capitalist imagination, immigration stats, letters in words, and more.
Are there more women in street art and graffiti? Yes, still very low, but the numbers are increasingly slightly:
It has become increasingly obvious that street art is no longer the sole preserve of men. The current eruption of female artists is global: in America, Europe, Brazil, Colombia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Australia, Asia and beyond.
The photographer Martha Cooper — who has been snapping graffiti culture for decades — estimates that while until relatively recently 0.1 percent of street artists were women, now 1 percent are. A small but significant leap.
Here is the reality of the art market today, via Bloomberg’s Katya Kazakina (emphasis mine):
Israel Lund’s grainy, washed out yellow and gray painting was sold four times over 11 months, jumping more than 1,500 percent in price along the way.
… Fueled by a flood of new collectors, flipping art has intensified recently as works by untested artists resell for escalating prices. It’s an early warning that a segment of the art market is showing characteristics of a financial bubble, advisers and collectors said.
“There always have been explosions in the art market and this is one of these boom moments,” said Miami-based collector Mera Rubell, who with her husband Don started buying emerging art in 1964 on a $25-a-month budget. “It does feel like the 1980s with high prices and waiting lists. This kind of fast flipping and such exuberant price acceleration is something new.”
By the time I was born, in 1958, my father was no longer a poor student. He’d become the chief curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and our home was saturated with objects. Art was his great love, followed by women. When I was seven, he ran off to the West Coast to marry someone new and to direct his own museum.
Was Edsel Ford Fong, who was the waiter at San Francisco’s infamous Sam Wo Restaurant, the worst waiter in history?
Joe Franco recalls his first visit to Sam Wo in 1981 and, consequently, his first Edsel experience. “Sit down and shut up!” he was told upon entering. When he made the grave mistake of attempting to order sweet-and-sour pork and a diet coke, Edsel was not pleased:
“You [stupid]? No coke!! Tea Only!! No sweet and sour!! You see on menu?!! You get house special chow fun…No fork, chopstick only…What you want, fat man?”
Another customer, Lou Sideris, once tried to order the “fried shrimp,” an item nearly double the price of anything else on the menu. “No! It’s a rip-off!” yelled Edsel. Sideris and his friends would return many times over the years, each time attempting to order the shrimp, and each time being furiously denied by Edsel.
Sam Wolfson, writing for Vice’s Noisey blog, suggests that Miley Cyrus’s new tour, which isn’t selling well for a pop star of her caliber, is proving that the “sex sells” logic may not be true all of the time:
“People are taught to look at things so black and white, especially in small towns. I’m excited to take this tour to places where [art] like this wouldn’t be accepted, where kids wouldn’t learn about this different kind of art,” said Cyrus earlier in the year. Critics seem to agree she’s been doing just that, with five star reviews raining down on the Bangerz tour. But one doubts whether the thousands of parents who took their kids to her O2 show will feel they left with an art lesson.
Miley can pretend she’s in a Brooklyn gallery space rather than an all-ages show, if she wants to. But she can’t pretend things are going well in terms of ticket sales. There were plenty of empty seats at the O2 and, unusually for an artist of her sway, she only played one night there. Things haven’t picked up on the rest of the European tour, with tickets still available for many of her upcoming dates. In the US, sales for the tour also struggled, particularly after she was seen smoking weed on TV. Forbes believe it’s unlikely she’d sold out “as many as half of her shows”. Tickets on secondary ticketing sites were selling for less than face-value as touts just tried to make some of their money back.
The conventional history of computing leaves out some key thinkers, according to The Atlantic:
In the years leading up to World War II, a number of European thinkers were exploring markedly similar ideas about information storage and retrieval, and even imagining the possibility of a global network — a feature notably absent from the Memex. Yet their contributions have remained largely overlooked in the conventional, Anglo-American history of computing.
Chief among them was Paul Otlet, a Belgian bibliographer and entrepreneur who, in 1934, laid out a plan for a global network of “electric telescopes” that would allow anyone in the world to access to a vast library of books, articles, photographs, audio recordings, and films.
Maria Bustillos, writing for the LA Review of Books, reviews Jonathan Safran Foer’s new Cultivating Thought: Author Series at … wait for it … Chipotle. It includes works by Toni Morrison, Sarah Silverman, Malcolm Gladwell, Sheri Fink, and others. Bustillos writes:
I approached these works in as hopeful a state as I could muster. It’s reassuring, if only marginally so, to realize that in the alleged twilight of printed books, as conventional publishers are ground to powder beneath the heel of Amazon (and Google), that the irrepressibility of language, the empire of ideas, will almost certainly find a way — however weird and unlikely a way — to persist, and to spread.
… Chipotle anticipates that it will take about two minutes to read each of its new pieces (though I found some to be quite a bit meatier than others). This raises a further question: can Jonathan Safran Foer, or anyone, eat a Chipotle lunch in two minutes? Those burritos are the size of a person’s head! I do not believe it would be at all advisable to eat one even in four minutes (cup, bag.) Also, the idea of a two-minute reading experience seems suspiciously like another of The Man’s attempts to make employees feel guilty for doing anything but working every second of every day. The four-minute lunch! I can already see it coming. And don’t imagine that you’ll be able to get additional cups or bags to read during a lunch of humane and reasonable duration, because they will only contain more burritos and soda, thus getting us nowhere.
Twitter wisdom from @astradisastra:
This Pew Research helps us understand how the demographics of the United States are changing:
Page Six’s anonymous report from the Kimye wedding is too good not to link to. And these passages are hilarious (emphasis mine):
At that same visit, when Kanye saw the $136,000 (100,000 Euro) audio system, described by one producer as the single best system in Europe, he said he didn’t like the look of the speakers and wanted them to be invisible. He said that “You Italians don’t understand my Minimalist style.” So he had the entire system pulled out as the guests were arriving, and his wedding music came from an iPod until after dinner.
Kanye returned one hour before the wedding and didn’t like the all-white bar that was in front of the Gold Toilet Tower. He took a saw and started sawing it in half himself. Two men held the bar stable as he sawed, and sawed, into the bar, defacing the entire front, screaming at everyone around him. He said it looked like a bar from Texas. Then he ordered two pieces of raw wood to be nailed onto the front of the bar. Once the wood was in place, “Now,” he said, “it’s art.” The Italian construction teams looked at this guy and couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
And WTF moment:
And the most prominent wedding gift was a giant bottle of Chianti, which had been dipped in gold (probably great for the flavor of the wine), the cork replaced with a diamond, a gift from Jay Z (a no-show).
A history of the death penalty in the United States.
The Onion has a great take on gun violence in the US:
Do you want to see how fast the internet is changing and how much of a role China is playing? Check out these two charts of the top 10 websites by users from 2013 and 2014, courtesy Technology Review, and you can see how the Chinese companies pop up seemingly overnight on the latest chart:
And this is fascinating data. Here is a chart explaining the frequency (and word position) of letters in English language words:
Required Reading is published every Sunday morning EST, and is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.