Weekend

Required Reading

This week, Louvre’s Nazi loot, gender imbalance in the art world, Linda Nochlin and the female gaze, Amazon’s welfare scam, the future of Canadian art catalogues, and more.

This haunting infrared image of Chernobyl was taken by Vladimir Migutin and there’s a whole set on My Modern Met. (via My Modern Met)

“Our objective is very clearly to restitute everything we can,” Sébastien Allard, the Louvre’s chief curator of paintings, said on a tour of the new rooms Thursday. “It’s very important that we present the ‘MNR’ works in a separate space,” he added, using the French acronym for “Musées Nationaux Récupération,” the roughly 61,000 stolen artworks that were returned to France after World War II. Of those, the government quickly returned some 45,000 works to survivors and heirs but sold thousands more to replenish its postwar coffers.

For decades, French museums — the Louvre included — have willingly displayed the remaining 2,143 works.

Inspired by Andrea Fraser, whose work often mocked the masculinity of the museum space, Sulkowicz decided that they would insert themselves into this ongoing conversation through performance. They used their partially nude body to obstruct the public’s view of Close’s work, juxtaposing his granular portraits with their physical flesh. They also stood before Picasso’s “Demoiselles d’Avignon” in the Museum of Modern Art.

“I grew up in New York,” Sulkowicz said. “Every time we went on a field trip, I was expected to look at this violent depiction of chopped-up women’s bodies while being told it’s a fantastic painting. It felt important for me to stand in front of that as well.”  

It’s hard to describe how one’s mind changes over time, how visual assumptions shift, how we see things differently. Even contemporary works discussed in Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader have transformed for me. Take Catherine Opie’s Self Portrait/Nursing (2004), which Nochlin cites in her essay “Women Artists Then and Now: Painting, Sculpture, and the Image of the Self.” How had I seen it before — rebellious? Clever? Now its fleshy gravity spoke to me. The photograph centers on the artist’s bold, naked body as she nurses a young boy. Everything about the portrait takes up space, throwing back our visual expectations: her shorn hair, her tattooed skin, her size and weight in the frame. The contrast of her dark forearms cradling the bright flesh of her son’s body and her lolling breast suggests a protective holding. Something about her indifference to us is reassuring. She’s not looking at the viewer, but it isn’t because she isn’t aware. She has more important things to attend to. A red drapery hangs behind her. This is a different kind of Madonna and Child, a turn on the long history of simultaneous reverence and condemnation of mothers.

… the assessment has passed into the media imagination as if it were unassailable fact, allowing journalists to assume what has yet to be proved. In doing so they serve as mouthpieces for the intelligence agencies, or at least for those ‘hand-picked’ analysts.

We can gauge the corrosive impact of the Democrats’ fixation on Russia by asking what they aren’t talking about when they talk about Russian hacking. For a start, they aren’t talking about interference of other sorts in the election, such as the Republican Party’s many means of disenfranchising minority voters. Nor are they talking about the trillion dollar defence budget that pre-empts the possibility of single-payer healthcare and other urgently needed social programmes; nor about the modernisation of the American nuclear arsenal which Obama began and Trump plans to accelerate, and which raises the risk of the ultimate environmental calamity, nuclear war – a threat made more serious than it has been in decades by America’s combative stance towards Russia.

Other Canadians express less pity, and more anger, over Black Dog’s final years, alleging that right up until the end, they were signing contracts and taking money from our nation’s art institutions to fund old printers’ bills. One thing is certain: key problems and potentials remain in terms of discussing the future of art-book publishing in Canada.

“I absolutely don’t think that [Black Dog’s] collapse indicates art catalogues are not viable or worth producing,” says Jonathan Middleton, a curator who of late has co-founded the art, design and publishing service Information Office in Vancouver. “I don’t think we’d make the same observation about a failed art gallery. Maybe the lessons here are that art catalogues are not always viable in the conventional book trade. Much like art, they’re an odd economy unto themselves.”

  • The images of Geronimo huge balloon installation at the New York City Ballet are quite impressive (more images at Colossal):

I climbed the pier with my camera and made a few frames of the scene, then climbed down and woke him. He wasn’t startled in the least. I guess when you sleep under bridges, you learn to expect the unexpected.

He sat up slowly and cleared his head. I asked him if he knew anything about the homeless camp — if he knew what happened to the men.

“Yeah,” he said. “Teens driving by started shooting their guns at them, so they decided there had to be a safer place to live. Why do you ask?”

We talked for a minute or two, about my editor’s idea and journalism in general. After a brief pause, he said, “You ought to do a story about me.”

I’ve heard this line many times before, and many more since.

“And why would I want to do that?” I said.

“Because,” he said, “I’ve played in three Super Bowls.”

When she was 10, a white boy pushed Auntie Rosa, and she pushed him back. Auntie Rosa’s grandmother told her, “You need to be quiet, you need to stop being so vocal.” She was told, as black people, we’re not allowed to do those things to whites. Her grandmother was concerned that she’d get hurt, that she could even get lynched. But Auntie Rosa told her grandmother, “Let them try to lynch me.” She was that bold, even when she was young.

This is all fucked. Companies like Amazon build new headquarters and other facilities because they have a business need to do so. If a business has a business need to build a business facility, you do not need to pay the business money to do so. The fact that it has a business need means that ultimately it will make money by doing so. There is no charity involved here. The only thing that every damn city in America is bidding on here is the right to have a business facility located in a certain place. You do not have to be a genius to see that, in aggregate, from a national perspective, this is a losing game for the public. If we did not give private corporations any free public money, they would still build their business facilities, because doing so is a necessary part of doing business, which is what businesses do. Furthermore, taxes are what we charge for public services. By giving Amazon tax breaks, you excuse them from paying (a lot) for public services. As a result, either public services will suffer, or the rest of us will pay more to make up the difference. This is charity money being spent to enrich the richest man in the world. It is the worst possible use of public funds.

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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