This week, criticizing Ai Weiwei, the FBI is tracking your Google searches, history of Pong, Hirst is a joke, the Paris art “underground,” and more.
A Chinese art magazine has published a scathing review of Ai Weiwei. According to Shanghaiist:
Randian (燃点), a Chinese-English magazine which seeks to “promote independent cultural debate in China”, has published an article which takes to task the Western media’s representation of Ai Weiwei as the face of contemporary Chinese art, and also criticizes the artist’s recent statements about art in China.
The article is title, “Getting Over Ai Weiwei” and it argues that we should look past the superstar Chinese dissident to see a more complete picture of the country’s art scene:
There are, though, significant dangers in the upholding of Ai as our sole representative/mediator of artistic resistance to authority within China. While Ai’s bluntly confrontational and often bombastic stance can be readily digested within Western liberal-democratic contexts where romantic notions of heroic dissent in the face of overwhelming power still persist, it is by no means representative of the critical positioning of most other Chinese artists. Ai may have situated himself admirably behind enlightened westernized ideals of freedom and openness, but the sheer bluntness and reductive simplicity of his critical approach to authority have effectively foreclosed a more searching discussion of contemporary art within China as well as the complex, web of localized cultural, social, political and economic forces that surround its production and reception.
One collector helped the FBI to retrieve his stolen art with a simple idea:
The cerebral Gundlach also gave investigators a tip for solving the crime. He says that while he was at home in his family room, it dawned on him that thieves would do a Google search using his grandmother’s name to find out more about the paintings and how much they might be worth.
Gundlach told the authorities that they should check the Internet to see who might have googled the name Helen Fuchs. He says exactly two such searches were executed: one by him and one by the thieves.
This week, we reported that MoMA has started to collect classic video games as art but Pong — a personal favorite — wasn’t one of them. Buzzfeed has published a history of the classic game and the industry’s “Big Bang.” How big is the video game industry? Well:
It would’ve been hard to imagine then, but games today are bigger than the global film industry, which had a 60-year head start. Pong is the reason that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 can make more than three times as much in its first five days on sale as The Avengers can in its first five days in theaters.
Some lovely geometric sandcastles by Calvin Seibert.
Another writer thinks Damien Hirst will be considered a joke in 10 years time.
An ”underground art collective” (literally) have spent the last 30 years staging events in tunnels beneath Paris. They sound quirky, to say the least:
The Untergunther specialise in clandestine acts of restoration of parts of France’s heritage which they believe the state has neglected. There is also an all-women group, nicknamed The Mouse House, who are experts at infiltration.
A photography exhibition by Max Belcher at the newly renovated Palladio Museum in the Palazzo Barbaran da Porto in Vicenza shows the Italian architect’s influence on homes built by freed American slaves upon returning to Africa.
Greece’s economic crisis has been a fertile breeding ground for the arts, according to the BBC:
For as the financial crisis has transformed parts of the city for the worse — once-affluent areas now beset by crime and prostitution — it has also inspired a flourishing community of graffiti artists, brightening up the capital with their acerbic and colourful creations
But it’s not just street art:
State funding for the arts has been slashed by 30% in the past two years but the experience of living through today’s Greece has spawned new and exciting cultural ideas.In a small theatre in the capital, a young group performs their new show called 10 Centimetres Up. They, like many, have done away with props and scenery as budgets are tightened and so they rely on their impressive physical expertise and wit.
A major work by 20th C American artist Robert Rauschenberg, “Canyon” (1959), has been donated to MoMA, but the owners didn’t exactly give it up for no reason other than their generosity:
“Canyon” is to go on display on Wednesday at the Modern after being captured in a contest with its uptown sister, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it had resided on and off since 2005. Its owners agreed to donate the work as part of a $41 million settlement with the Internal Revenue Service.
How did MoMa beat the Met for the work?
MoMA made a concerted effort to woo the work’s owners, the children of the New York art dealer Ileana Sonnabend, who died in 2007. Mr. Lowry said it agreed to add their mother’s name to the Founders Wall in the lobby of the museum (which was established in 1929, when Ms. Sonnabend was 15), and to devote an entire show to “Canyon” and Ms. Sonnabend, an important figure who helped introduce and nurture modernist artists.
And how a fake press release about a Google acquisition fooled a number of news agencies, including the Associated Press.
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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