Required Reading

A site specific work by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. Titled “Seven Magic Mountains,” it was produced by Art Production Fund, New York, and the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno. The monumental land art will be on view for two years beginning in May of 2016. (via Colossal)
A site specific work by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. Titled “Seven Magic Mountains,” it was produced by Art Production Fund, New York, and the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno. The monumental land art will be on view for two years beginning in May of 2016. (photos by Gianfranco Gorgoni. courtesy of Art Production Fund and Nevada Museum of Art, via Colossal)

This week, bell hooks on Beyoncé, photographs from behind, makeshift memorials to gun violence in New York, Philip-Lorca diCorcia on the art market.

 bell hooks writes about Beyoncé’s Lemonade, and she’s very critical:

Viewers who like to suggest Lemonade was created solely or primarily for black female audiences are missing the point. Commodities, irrespective of their subject matter, are made, produced, and marketed to entice any and all consumers. Beyoncé’s audience is the world and that world of business and money-making has no color.

 What Does it Mean To Photograph Someone from Behind? Humble Arts Foundation asks a number of photographers and gets some interesting answers:

“This photograph relates to a sort of ‘double gaze’ in which I’m watching someone watch something else. In this instance my father gazing at a full moon in the front yard of my parents’ house. The form of the photograph leans more towards the recording of a quiet and possibly ambiguous moment, rather than a more voyeuristic or predatory gaze of an unsuspecting subject.” —Rory Mulligan

 Ronan Farrow, Woody Allen’s son, wrote a column for the Hollywood Reporter about the pressure celebrities place on media outlets and what happens next:

In fact, when my sister first decided to speak out, she had gone to multiple newspapers — most wouldn’t touch her story. An editor at the Los Angeles Times sought to publish her letter with an accompanying, deeply fact-checked timeline of events, but his bosses killed it before it ran. The editor called me, distraught, since I’d written for them in the past. There were too many relationships at stake. It was too hot for them. He fought hard for it. (Reached by The Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Times said the decision not to publish was made by the Opinion editors.)

When The New York Times ultimately ran my sister’s story in 2014, it gave her 936 words online, embedded in an article with careful caveats. Nicholas Kristof, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and advocate for victims of sexual abuse, put it on his blog.

Soon afterward, the Times gave her alleged attacker twice the space — and prime position in the print edition, with no caveats or surrounding context. It was a stark reminder of how differently our press treats vulnerable accusers and powerful men who stand accused.

 Ayn Rand had some suggestions for Hollywood about writing pro-Capitalist films:

Under the heading of “Don’t Smear an Independent Man”

Don’t make every form of loneliness a sin, and every form of the herd spirit a virtue.

Remember that America is the country of the pioneer, the non-conformist, the inventor, the originator, the innovator. Remember that all the great thinkers, artists, scientists were single, individual, independent men who stood alone, and discovered new directions of achievement—alone.

Don’t let yourself be fooled when the Reds tell you that what they want to destroy are men like Hitler or Mussolini. What they want to destroy are men like Shakespeare, Chopin and Edison.

 Andrew Lichtenstein documents the makeshift memorials for the victims of New York City’s gun violence, like this:


 There are two exhibitions devoted to High Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli, and Andrew Butterfield writes about his illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy:

But the very qualities that drew so many readers to the poem—its vivid accounts of the horrors of Hell and the splendors of Heaven, its sprawling narrative, its penetrating descriptions of emotion, its philosophical gravity, and its unequaled mix of realism and what Dante called alta fantasia—were all far beyond the skills of earlier painters to convey. Even the most elaborate illuminated manuscripts of the book, including those made for humanist rulers such as Alfonso V of Aragon, king of Naples, were illustrated with comparatively naif and rudimentary images. Botticelli was determined to be the first painter to do justice to the great poem.

An exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery in London allows us to see what he hoped to achieve. It features thirty of the surviving ninety-two parchment sheets he made for the book. The sheets are relatively large—about 12 1/2 by 18 1/2 inches—and they are arranged in what is commonly called landscape format. Each sheet bears on its back Botticelli’s illustration for a canto, and on its front the text of the following canto, written in the neat lettering of a Florentine scribe. Most scholars agree the plan was to bind the sheets together in a codex, with its spine on the top, like a modern-day calendar.

 Actors used to come from the working class, but now they mostly hail from the upper-middle or wealthy classes. Some would say the same is true for reporters, writers, artists, and other creative professionals. Carol Cadwalladr writes:

There’s now evidence of an inequality that runs like a seam through the entire profession and which goes far beyond the anecdotal. This year, academics from the London School of Economics and Goldsmiths College, in a peer-reviewed study, found that only 27% of actors come from a working-class background and that the profession is “heavily skewed towards the privileged”. In February this year, the Sutton Trust, a thinktank dedicated to social mobility, included acting for the first time in its survey of leading professions, and found, among other things, that 67% of British Oscar winners and 42% of Bafta winners went to a private school.

 Photographer Philip-Lorca diCorcia writing about the art market and auctions:

Now I’m trying to understand a few things, without getting angry with these superrich luxury companies, who, I think, pose their art investments purely as cultural enhancement instead of money in their already enormous bank accounts.  Artists hardly even qualify as whores. Contemporary art is a cock ring on a giant erection pumped up by capitalism and keeping the masters of that game from cumming. I think they like it. I think the artists like it, too. They get to pretend to be profound. Some are. Most are hemorrhoids waiting to happen. The blood that pumps it all up is money. Green blood.

 Brutalist websites are awesome.

 Instead of “Philosophy Departments,” maybe we should call them Departments of European and American Philosophy”? Well, two professors think so:

For example, of the 118 doctoral programs in philosophy in the United States and Canada, only 10 percent have a specialist in Chinese philosophy as part of their regular faculty. Most philosophy departments also offer no courses on Africana, Indian, Islamic, Jewish, Latin American, Native American or other non-European traditions. Indeed, of the top 50 philosophy doctoral programs in the English-speaking world, only 15 percent have any regular faculty members who teach any non-Western philosophy.

 North Korea released untouched photographs of Kim Jong-un, and here’s one theory as to why:


Chang Yong-seok, a North Korea expert at Seoul National University, said the North might be trying to sell a more natural and positive image of Kim and his senior officials after the ruling party congress that ended on Monday.

 And Mona Eltahawy tweeted an image of her article censored in the Pakistani edition of the New York Times. The Egyptian-American journalist told the Guardian:

… the censorship showed “a woman who disobeys and who openly claims sexual liberation and pleasure is dangerous and must be silenced” and cited a similar backlash faced by the Pakistani director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy after her documentary about honour killings won an Academy Award.

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning ET, and 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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