This week, Aboriginal art in danger, Andrew Masullo must be a hipster, Lenin of the East Village, Buddhism’s influence on the American avant garde, the early evolution of human culture and freedom and art.
Australia has found itself in the midst of a public debate about what makes something art in the first place. The debate was ignited when corporations started eyeing the energy-rich Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia, which is “the densest display of rock art in the world, with as many as 2 million prehistoric Aboriginal carvings, some as much as 30,000 years old.”
The corporations want to move many of the rocks, but critics plans ask “Would England relocate Stonehenge?” An article in the Boston Globe points out how the move could jeopardize the artistic integrity of the work:
It is theorized that many pieces of ancient Aboriginal rock art are linked through “songlines,” spiritual navigational paths that crisscross the landscape, connecting art, people, and environment for thousands of miles. Songlines are rooted in an Aboriginal religious tradition that tells of a sacred time called the Dreaming, when mythical beings roamed the earth, giving it its present shape.
The creators of the rock carvings are long gone, but some of the art on the Burrup is believed to represent the shadows of these beings, traces left behind from their creation days.
The article does a particularly good job at giving the controversy a context:
In certain ways, the debate echoes arguments taking place in the Western art world. The government of Greece, for example, claims the Parthenon marbles make no sense in the British Museum, and belong back on the Acropolis. Sometimes the flurry is about art that has become tied to a place over time: In Philadelphia, the Barnes Foundation has drawn angry criticism for its plan to dismantle its historic gallery, which would destroy the original arrangement of a great collector’s works.
The Morning News interviews Andrew Masullo about his “pure painting” and life. This exchange says it all:
TMN: What’s the longest it’s taken you to complete a painting?
Andrew Masullo: I’m still working on it.
I’m convinced Masullo is the biggest hipster ever. I don’t know how old he is, where he lives (ok, I Google’d it and it seems like it’s San Francisco) or what he looks like but he sounds like a hipster. Move to Billyburg, bro.
As an aside, what was up with half those Forrest Bess paintings in this year’s Whitney Biennial being owned by Masullo?
Have you ever wondered about Red Square on Houston Street in Manhattan’s East Village? You know, the one with the Vladimir Lenin statue of the roof? Now there’s a fascinating podcast by Frederick Bernas about the history of that place and how that building changed the neighborhood forever.
An audio podcast featuring an interview with Hyperallergic contributor Ellen Pearlman about her new book, Nothing and Everything: The Influence of Buddhism on the American Avant Garde: 1942 to 1962, which was released last week.
Her extensive research has discovered a great deal of new research that may shed some new light on the Eastern faith’s influence on major American cultural figures, like Morris Graves and John Cage.
Harvard Magazine publishes an article by sociobiologist E.O. Wilson, who explores the evolution of culture. He writes:
Perhaps, some writers have argued, the cave paintings were made to conjure sympathetic magic and increase the success of hunters in the field. This supposition is supported by the fact that a great majority of the subjects are large animals. Furthermore, 15 percent of these animal paintings depict animals that have been wounded by spears or arrows.
Charles Rosen explores the topic of freedom and art in the New York Review of Books:
Ideally we expect style and idea, form and matter, to be fused, indistinguishable one from the other. Friedrich Schlegel observed that when they are separable, there is something wrong with one or both of them. Nevertheless, the liberty of the artist rests on the ever-present possibility or danger of their independence. The Erasmian principle that style is, or should be, always subservient to idea is essentially naive. It takes little account of experience. Style can define and determine matter. We can see, for example, how the virtuosity of style in La Fontaine profoundly altered the morals of Aesop’s fables. The tension between style and idea, their friction, is a stimulant.
Required Reading is published every Sunday morning EST, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts or photo essays worth a second look.