Required Reading

This was the 1st prize winner for International News at the 2014 National Press Photographers Association’s Best Of Photojournalism contest. The image is take by Claudio Santana for Agence France-Presse during a protest in Santiago, Chile on March 7, 2013. Congratulations, Santana! (via nppa.org)

This week, money-saving fonts, best press photos, trend piece bs, Wu Tang Clan’s art experiment, booksellers leaving Manhattan, and more.

 A 14-year-old figured out a way the US gov’t can save $370 million … by changing fonts! Mashable writes:

In a paper published in the Journal for Emerging Investigators, Mirchandani lays out how switching to Garamond would save the government $136 million a year on ink alone. If you add up all the publications produced by U.S., the annual savings rise to $370 million.

 Are New York Times trend pieces bullshit? Umm … yeah, pretty much:

While The Times’s declarations of trends can sometimes seem self-serious, overblown and out-of-touch, they also can — at their best — provoke moments of recognition and lively conversation. And because they occasionally provide a full day’s worth of hilarity, let’s pray that they never go away.

 Designer Marc Newson isn’t happy with the design world:

“Frankly speaking, the design industry is really pathetic in terms of how it approaches manufacturing and how it brings things to market,” Newson told Dezeen in an exclusive interview yesterday.

“I’m not talking about Apple, I’m talking about furniture designers and what happens during the Milan fair,” he said. “If they took note of the way that the fashion world brings things to market, with such extraordinary efficiency, they could learn an enormous amount.”

 The Wu-Tang Clan captured a lot of media attention this past week when they announced that they will only be selling one copy of their latest double-album, The Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, which was recorded in secret over the past few years. According to Forbes:

Wu-Tang’s aim is to use the album as a springboard for the reconsideration of music as art, hoping the approach will help restore it to a place alongside great visual works …

The specially made box for the solitary Wu Tang Clan double-album.
The specially made box for the solitary Wu Tang Clan double-album.

They plan to organize a museum-gallery tour for the album, with ticket fees for viewing and listening at $30­–$50 per head.

But Reuters financial blogger Felix Salmon calls out the gimmick and says “basically boils down to art-market envy.” He continues:

… the Wu can’t work out if they want their album to be treated as a piece of fine art or as a luxury good. They say that their approach “launches the private music branch as a new luxury business model for those able to commission musicians to create songs or albums for private collections”. It’s true that the distinction between art and luxury is eroding, with artists like Takashi Murakami and Damien Hirst at the forefront of that trend. But there is still a distinction, and the Wu-Tang Clan clearly want their album to be on the art side, rather than on the luxury side: they want to be artists, not artisans. At the same time, however, the ornate packaging of their album signifies an emphasis on artistry, rather than art. I suspect that they would have been better off selling a simple USB thumb drive for a couple of million dollars, rather than trying to create a new class of luxury object.

 Is modernist architecture under threat in the American southwest? Dallas News reports:

The belief that these modern works are “unloved” is often inaccurate and counterproductive. More typically, problems germinate from poor stewardship and a host of other factors, from land values to changing building codes, that have little to do with aesthetics. When preservationists find out about troubled buildings, it is often too late.

 Surging rents are forcing booksellers from Manhattan, according to the New York Times:

Rising rents in Manhattan have forced out many retailers, from pizza joints to flower shops. But the rapidly escalating cost of doing business there is also driving out bookstores, threatening the city’s sense of self as the center of the literary universe, the home of the publishing industry and a place that lures and nurtures authors and avid readers.

 Another good one — this one for writers — from Grant Snider (click for the whole comic):


 If you’re a taxpayer in the US, then you might be funding creationism in classrooms. Politico has a report (h/t The Dish):

Taxpayers in 14 states will bankroll nearly $1 billion this year in tuition for private schools, including hundreds of religious schools that teach Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve strolled the garden with dinosaurs, and much of modern biology, geology and cosmology is a web of lies. Now a major push to expand these voucher programs is under way from Alaska to New York, a development that seems certain to sharply increase the investment.

… But the more striking shift in public policy has flown largely under the radar, as a well-funded political campaign has pushed to open the spigot for tax dollars to flow to private schools. Among them are Bible-based schools that train students to reject and rebut the cornerstones of modern science.

Decades of litigation have established that public schools cannot teach creationism or intelligent design. But private schools receiving public subsidies can — and do.

… One set of books popular in Christian schools calls evolution “a wicked and vain philosophy.” Another derides “modern math theorists” who fail to view mathematics as absolute laws ordained by God. The publisher notes that its textbooks shun “modern” breakthroughs — even those, like set theory, developed back in the 19th century. Math teachers often set aside time each week — even in geometry and algebra — to explore numbers in the Bible. Students learn vocabulary with sentences like, “Many scientists today are Creationists.”

 Wrap your head around this fact about the Gagosian galleries:

The total square footage in all of Gagosian’s empire — his team reports that the permanent locations constitute 157,500 square feet — far exceeds that of most museums. It’s bigger than MoMA, at least for now. It’s probably bigger than the whole art scene in cities like Amsterdam, Frankfurt, or Vienna.

Note: Jörg Colberg pointed out on Twitter that Jerry Saltz’s claim above about the square footage of art display space in Amsterdam is probably very wrong, particularly since the Stedelijk museum alone has 100,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space, and that doesn’t even include other museums, such as the Rijksmuseum.

 Two Orthodox Christian monks invent Byzantine Art #LOL

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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