Reactor

Required Reading

by Hrag Vartanian on September 23, 2012

This famed anonymous photo, “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper,” was taken in New York on September 20, 1932, celebrated its 80th anniversary this week but did you know that archivists say it was a publicity stunt. (via telegraph.co.uk)

This week, Salman Rushdie reflects on the 1989 fatwa, MOCA watchers psychoanalyze Eli Broad, Charlie Hebdo draws Muhammad again, GQ goes to ArtPrize, Tino Sehgal in the Tate’s Turbine Hall and more.

 In The New Yorker, Salman Rushdie explains that the infamous 1989 fatwa changed his life:

On air, when he was asked for a response to the threat, he said, “I wish I’d written a more critical book.” He was proud, then and always, that he had said this. It was the truth. He did not feel that his book was especially critical of Islam, but, as he said on American television that morning, a religion whose leaders behaved in this way could probably use a little criticism.

And then he speaks to Salon and “talked easily about the personal cost of the fatwa, how he managed to survive nine years in hiding, and about why freedom of speech is always worth defending, no matter the cost.”

 The MOCA drama shows no signs of subsiding and right now museum watchers are scrutinizing Eli Broad and how he could use the famed contemporary museum’s collection.

Christopher Knight of the LA Times writes:

So the problem Broad faces is this: How can an inconsistent personal art collection, based almost entirely on judgments derived from a commercial market, get a desirable veneer of public stability and critical approval? Answer: For reinforcement, call in some revered Old Masters from across the street.

Felix Salmon chimes in:

This is surely the ultimate dream for any self-made billionaire art collector: not to see your own works on the walls of a great museum, but to see the great museum’s works on your own walls.

 French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has published another cartoon mocking the Muslim prophet Muhammad and the anti-American protests in Libya and elsewhere. The Muhammad caricatures run from mild political jabs to depictions of the prophet naked. Hebdo defends his decision to publish the drawings:

“If we start saying we can’t do these cartoons because there’s a risk someone will be shocked, then we’ll back down from publishing other cartoons,” he told the BBC, “because there always will be pressure for something less offensive, and so on and so on until we stop making them altogether.”

 GQ goes to ArtPrize to investigate what all the fuss is about. Matthew Porter writes a feature on the event:

Critics have derided ArtPrize as a naked bid to buy cultural cachet in a flyover-country backwater, and fans have hailed it as radically open, a populist wresting of aesthetic judgment from the snobbery of elites in New York and Los Angeles. The New York Times mocked it as “Art Idol.” The critic Jerry Saltz called it “terrifying and thrilling” and wondered what effect such a model would have on the traditional bastions of art-world power. I shared Saltz’s wonderment, but even more than the event itself, what made me curious were the motives of the man behind it, a 30-year-old heir to a vast fortune named Rick DeVos.

 A play inspired by Picasso’s “Guernica” has been playing at fringe theater festivals in Canada all summer. Art Threat covers the Vancouver production and they explain:

Picasso’s representation of light and lack of colour are two of the biggest visual cues shared between the painting the Luckert’s Guernica. All of the characters are dressed in neutral tones, with only spoken cues to the colours they are wearing and seeing.

  “Masterpieces from Mount Stuart,”an exhibition of Dutch, Flemish, early Netherlandish, and French paintings from the Bute Collection, is on view at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh until December 2, and Tim Parks writes:

And all the time I’m looking at the pictures I’m trying to figure out the implications of this idea that important art always travels. One consequence must be that, however deeply a work is immersed in the local and contemporary — like de Hooch’s painting of this quarrel over a bill, a hotel bill I’m beginning to think now — recognition of local detail is not essential for appreciating what really matters, which in this case must be the falling out over money of two people, a man and woman, their bodies animated, the woman raising a hand as she leans aggressively toward the man who has his right hand in his pocket, perhaps feeling for coins — assuming people kept coins in their pockets, in Holland, in those times.

 Brian Dillon writes about Tino Sehgal’s new commission for the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall:

His deployment of bodies in space is well suited to the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern … For his piece, entitled “These associations,” Sehgal has hired and trained seventy individuals of different ages and backgrounds to run, dance, pose and process slowly through the space. They will also accost you with more or less intimate stories and anecdotes. In common with all of Sehgal’s works, this one lacks a catalogue and encouraging wall texts, so it’s a matter of chance whether visitors decide to join in, and unclear whether they’re meant to.

 Did you know that when a statement is accompanied by a photo, it is concerned more truthful?

” …  half the statements were accompanied by a photo of the relevant celebrity and half weren’t. The take-home finding: the participants were more likely to say a statement was true if it was accompanied by a photo.”

(h/t @jmcolberg)

 Is it only a matter a time before New York’s public housing projects are no longer? New York Magazine reports:

Then, last month, with a muscle-memory spasm of old-school kick-ass reporting by the Daily News, the other shoe dropped, hard. According to the News, NYCHA wasn’t quite as broke as it let on. As John Rhea was pleading poverty, NYCHA was reportedly sitting on nearly a billion dollars of unspent federal funds. The question was why the city’s biggest landlord was hoarding that kind of money with more than 300,000 unmet repair requests. Amid accusations of cosmic incompetency, a reformed NYCHA will shed half its board members, along with their $187,000 salaries.

 And finally, a thrillingly racy tumblelog titled Boudoirboudoir, which is most certainly NSFW.

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.

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