Reactor

Required Reading

by Kyle Chayka on January 30, 2011

This weekend’s Required Reading brings us up to speed on the situation of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, plus catches up on some of the things we missed while breaking the news, from movies demystifying the myth of the artist to video games histories and questions of morality and happiness.

Egyptian protests in Cairo have lead to the National Democratic Party’s headquarters being set on fire, a building dangerously close to the city’s Egyptian Museum, which holds the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the world. We’ve been covering the museum’s situation continuously in our two posts documenting the risk of fire and the looting of the museum. This is the most important international art news story in a while; I’m just thankful that it has not suffered as catastrophically as the National Museum of Iraq.

At the New York Review of Books, Ronald Dworkin writes on morality and happiness, dissecting the belief that a life lived justly is a worth goal in itself: “The austere view that virtue should be its own reward is disappointing in another way.” Dworkin seeks an alternative definition of a worthy life.

Via Kottke, Francis Ford Coppola offers his thoughts on art and money. He says that the two don’t necessarily need to be connected, and that historically, they weren’t:

You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.

Jessica Lussenhop at the Minneapolis City Pages documents the history of Oregon Trail [pictured above], probably the most omnipresent computer game in the US. But did you know it started out as a punch-card educational game? Or that the game’s original creators don’t receive any royalties on its sale?

Speaking of video games, check out Ryan Kuo of Kill Screen magazine’s analysis of the Whitney’s fund-raising online game Clickistan and explores how the action of clicking is an “affirmative gesture.” Director of Membership and Annual Fund Kristen Denner says in an interview that with clicking,

You are typically taking an action that leads to a response or change. There’s a desired result when you click. In a way, that’s different from scrolling, or moving a page up and down, or moving a cursor around.

Along with our review of Joe Zucker‘s mosaic exhibition, check out this Brooklyn Rail interview with the artist by Phong Bui. The conversation meanders through art, architecture and education, but it remains remarkably riveting throughout. One takeaway quote that resonated with me:

Mosaic is a craft. And when you deal with craft, you deal with generations. You deal with a language of aesthetics that’s passed through reproduction of the soul, in a sense, of people.

The online art world has been all over “protean” artist Joe Bradley lately. Bloomberg reported that Bradley’s work is “selling like crazy,” raising 1100% in price over five years even while the artist has ranged through several different painting styles. Collectors just “trust Joe’s brand”! Excuse me while I throw up. Paddy Johnson of Art Fag City is considerably less impressed:

I can’t seem to get off the Joe Bradley fence. Are these paintings funny (in the haha art way*) or are they just not very good?

Finally, on the fun side, The Sartorialist has a photo essay of Japanese designer Junya Watanabe’s latest line in Paris. To put it into art talk, the jackets on display appropriate the comfy, wintery visual language of your grandpa’s old Christmas sweaters while maintaining the classy clothing signifiers of formal wear. I want one.

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning at 7am EST, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links (10 or less) to long-form articles, videos, blog posts or photo essays worth a second look.

Image of a screenshot of Oregon Trail via Wikipedia

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