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The cult of Sir Benedict Cumberbatch, some members of which identify as “Cumberbitches,” is drooling over the Sherlock actor’s very dramatic reading of a letter by artist Sol LeWitt to sculptor Eva Hesse. Written in 1965, the letter was LeWitt’s attempt to help Hesse, whom he’d befriended five years prior, banish her self-doubt.
The letter is full of good advice for anyone who’s ever felt creatively blocked. Parts of it sound like something written by Dr. Seuss as a coked-up motivational speaker; other parts recall Yoda’s Zen-inflected advice to a young Luke Skywalker: “Do. Or Not Do. There Is No Try.”:
Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just
Reading the letter on stage at a London event called Letters Live, the Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning actor practically foams at the mouth. “Learn to say ‘Fuck You’ to the world once in a while,” he yells. “You have every right to.”
The minimalist LeWitt wrote the letter to Hesse while she was at a residency in Germany with her husband, whom she later divorced.
Do more. More nonsensical, more crazy, more machines, more breasts, penises, cunts, whatever — make them abound with nonsense. Try and tickle something inside you, your “weird humor.” You belong in the most secret part of you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool.
… stop worrying about big, deep things such as “to decide on a purpose and way of life, a consistant [sic] approach to even some impossible end or even an imagined end.” You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to
The friendship and lines of artistic influence between these two famous minimalists were chronicled in Converging Lines: Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt, a recent exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art. It featured LeWitt’s original five-page handwritten missive, with the word “DO” illustrated in block letters decorated by sharp little arrows.
The letter is well worth revisiting any time you find yourself “bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling,” etc., instead of just doing.
Poussin and the Dance is a valiant attempt to break into Poussin’s staunchly academic oeuvre and provide a relatable point of entry, highlighting the exciting elements of revelry and movement despite impenetrable and unemotional rendering.
Anarchist illustrator N.O. Bonzo produces decentralized media in a highly bureaucratic cultural landscape. Their illustrations, murals, and literature emerge in unexpected places, from the streets of Portland, Oregon, to the far ends of Reddit and Twitter, addressing relations of labor and identity in the workplace and on the streets. Growth and care are central themes…
This exhibition explores how images of the human body were used to provoke profound physical and emotional responses in viewers from the 15th through 18th centuries.
With scavenged materials, Amanda Maciel Antunes constructs a motherland.
Where are the directors taking the stage to acknowledge workers’ demands today?
The collaborative handmade paper- and printmaking center at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts publishes new works by Liz Collins and Sarah McEneaney.
There is a debate whether the memory of Little Syria should be seized upon to tell truthful and positive stories about Arabs in the US, or whether any conflation between its history and contemporary politics is inappropriate.
The profile includes works by Egon Schiele, Amedeo Modigliani, Peter Paul Rubens, and a prehistoric Venus of Willendorf figurine.
These horrifying dolls definitely won’t murder you in your sleep.