Required Reading

This week, making Picasso paintings 3D, best restaurant review hate read, Lucas Cranach the Elder’s business acumen, architectural terra-cotta, and defining “re-accommodate.” 

Designer Omar Aqil made a few famous Picasso paintings 3D. More on Designboom. (via Designboom)

The canapé we are instructed to eat first is a transparent ball on a spoon. It looks like a Barbie-sized silicone breast implant, and is a “spherification”, a gel globe using a technique perfected by Ferran Adrià at El Bulli about 20 years ago. This one pops in our mouth to release stale air with a tinge of ginger. My companion winces. “It’s like eating a condom that’s been left lying about in a dusty greengrocer’s,” she says.

In fact, well through the Cold War and all the way into the neoliberal decades that preceded Trump, the received wisdom in America about writers functioning under state patronage was that it was a feature of totalitarian societies and tinpot Third World republics, redolent of the constrictions of socialist realism and the power of culture apparatchiks who measured writers according to their conformity with approved ideas, dealing out censorship to the brave and prizes to the most compromised. This was no doubt what Salman Rushdie, former president of PEN America, had in mind when in 2012 he described the Chinese writer Mo Yan, who had just received the Nobel Prize, as a “a patsy of the regime.”

Cranach produced entire series. He introduced division of labor in his studio, creating templates of common subjects and motifs, offering his works in fixed formats and working with variations and duplications. He was in charge of the most productive studio of the 16th century, selling commissioned works within a short time. His superb organization and efficiency helped to express the ideas of the Reformation in pictures.

There is less fact in arts criticism than commonly suggested. What most closely resembles fact is, on second view, something like collective agreement, a commonality of response that is often the product of a shared experience. Observe any artform long enough, patiently enough – six months should suffice – and you will come to know the trends, understand the conventions, recognise the innovations. The benchmarks for ‘good’, ‘bad’ and ‘passable’ were often simply the converging expectations of a small number of theatre-goers – perhaps a few thousand in a regular, mid-sized western city – and the expectations of an even smaller number of critics, fed the same steady diet of local theatre. Invest six months, and you will be able to separate the wheat from the chaff in a way that nobody will strenuously contest.

This pathology of whiteness is the foundation for a novel that spends the bulk of its narrative delving into the American past by going back to the South and exploring the roots and routes of black music and Jim Crow. When Seth records a chess player in the park humming an old blues song to himself, Carter convinces him to mix the song and brand it as the work of a bluesman, Charlie Shaw. This act is part of a longer American legacy of co-opting the blues, which Kunzru identifies as a capitalist obsession with possession.

Architectural terra-cotta is an ancient form of masonry that is still used extensively today. Terra-cotta literally means “fired earth,” a nod to the process of turning clay into a durable product used in pottery, floor tiles, and roofing. And the ability of glazed terra-cotta tiles, hung on a steel frame, to imitate expansive masonry walls made the material a popular choice for architectural expression and durability during the early 1900s.

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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