Required Reading

A rooftop swimming pool with a glass floor cantilevers out beside the entrance to this house in Marbella, Spain, by Dutch office Wiel Arets Architects (via Dezeen)
A rooftop swimming pool with a glass floor cantilevers out beside the entrance to this house in Marbella, Spain, by Dutch office Wiel Arets Architects (via Dezeen)

This week, where the fakes are, TED’s coming disaster, Ai Weiwei speaks, drinks + politics, African art museum first, design bubble forming, King Tut’s erect penis, and more.

 Ever wonder where those notorious Knoedler gallery fakes of mid-century American abstract painting went? Well, the New York Times has created a useful graphic to illustrate their geography. Some takeaways:

  • of 34 forgeries sold, 16 are in New York City, 3 in California, and 2 in Florida
  • Knoedler paid $600,000 for the fake Clyfford Still, “Untitled” (1949), and sold it for $5 million
  • 7 of the fakes were labeled works by Mark Rothko
  • According to the Times, “The markups on some of them — a 1,100 percent jump in just a month — were unusual, even for the art business.”

 Are TED Talks “a recipe for civilisational disaster”? Benjamin Bratton is only one of the latest to suggest as much:

What is it that the TED audience hopes to get from this? A vicarious insight, a fleeting moment of wonder, an inkling that maybe it’s all going to work out after all? A spiritual buzz?

I’m sorry but this fails to meet the challenges that we are supposedly here to confront. These are complicated and difficult and are not given to tidy just-so solutions. They don’t care about anyone’s experience of optimism. Given the stakes, making our best and brightest waste their time — and the audience’s time — dancing like infomercial hosts is too high a price. It is cynical.

Also, it just doesn’t work.

 Is Storyboard P the Basquiat of street dancing?

A decade ago, Storyboard began competing in Brooklyn dance battles: face-offs in parks, at all-ages clubs, and at house parties. In 2007, at the inaugural installment of BattleFest, a flex tournament that has attracted corporate sponsorship, the judges named him King of the Streets. The last time he danced at BattleFest, in 2012, he again took top honors. Deidre Schoo, the co-director of “Flex Is Kings,” a new documentary about flex, told me that Storyboard’s art is “polarizing.” Unlike many flexers, he appropriates other forms of street dance—the furious gestures of Los Angeles krumpers, the en pointe wizardry of Memphis jookers—and mixes in classical moves, going from a sashaying vogue strut to a balletic flourish. Some people, hollering epithets from the sidelines at battles, consider Storyboard’s style florid and effeminate. But, Schoo said, “no one will contest that he’s one of the best street dancers, if not the best, in Brooklyn. Maybe in the country.”

 Artists Ai Weiwei talks about “making art in a cage“:

Question: For nearly three years now you haven’t been outside China. Do you feel marginalized? Do you feel you are missing international developments?

Ai Weiwei: I think that today the concept of marginalization is a very interesting one for an artist. As a contemporary artist, we’re always looking for reasons to exist in marginalization, for the possibilities in marginalization. The minute we talk about possibilities, in reality we’re talking about the question of marginalization. With the Internet, it’s all not a problem. If there weren’t one, it would be really scary. But with the Internet, we all have opportunities to discuss our plight, quickly and accurately, with other people who are in their own plight. When our feelings and other people’s feelings join up, well, that’s the action of placing flowers. The flowers are about putting in place a necessary connection.

 What your favorite drink says about your politics, in one chart:


 The New York Times Magazine speaks to Christie’s Auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen about the art market:

Question: In New York there’s a sense that the U.S. art collector right now is a net seller, while the Qataris and the Chinese are net buyers. 

Jussi Pylkkanen: When I first joined Christie’s, it was what we called the Three D’s — Death, Divorce and Debt — that drove sales, but that doesn’t really play such a large part anymore. The Middle East, Asia and Russia are getting into the Impressionist and postwar markets, and others — furniture, ceramics and silver — and buying very strongly. On the flip side of that, you have the great American and European collectors, whose tastes have changed. They’ve sold Impressionist to buy postwar.

 The Art Newspaper reports that the family-run Zinsou Foundation, which was launched in 2005 in Cotonou in Benin, has opened the first museum dedicated to contemporary African art in sub-Saharan Africa … the new museum is housed in the newly renovated Villa Ajavon, which was built in 1922 and draws on a Brazilian style of architecture. But I’m having trouble believing the statement that it is the first museum dedicated to contemporary African art in sub-Saharan Africa considering South Africa has many contemporary art spaces.

 You know all that talk about the art market bubble bursting? Well, Berlin-based writer Lucas Verweij thinks there’s a design bubble and it might burst too:

I think that expectations and promises are now far too unrealistic when it comes to design. Practically all design disciplines are unprotected professions. People are free to call themselves “design thinkers” or “social designers” whenever they want. Every year there are three new educational programmes starting. Design is growing in such an unbridled manner that the quality can no longer be guaranteed.

 Here’s a useful little guide to combat online surveillance from The Occupied Times.

 Did you know King Tut was mummified with an erect penis in order to squash rebellion?

It was an attempt by his priests to continue this endeavor in his death that may have led to him being mummified with an erect penis, Prof Ikram speculates. The upright body part broke off after the discovery of the tomb, with some speculation that it was stolen.

 And finally, and strangely related … errr … whatevers, this week people have been mesmerized/grossed out by the guy with two penises … yes, you read that right, and they are both functional. Well, to fulfill your “fantasties” he’s just done a Reddit AMA and he’s bisexual and sounds rather well adjusted. As one commenter summarized for us (please don’t read if you’re a prude or easily offended):

Just to summarize what we’ve learnt.

He’s bisexual. He’s attractive. He’s lives in a threesome. He likes fisting others and being fisted. He likes putting things down his urethra. He casually mentions the time six people had sex with him simultaneously. He shoots 12 times when he cums. Straight men magically turn bicurious around him.

And on top of that, he has two penises.

Well played, God. Good to know you didn’t waste that extra penis on a prude.

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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