Required Reading

This week, the imaginary skyscraper at the center of a new summer blockbuster, missing Picassos, a designer of the #TrumpBaby blimp, Chinese millennials are calling themselves ‘Spiritually Finnish,’ and more.

The imaginary 240-storey skyscraper in Hong Kong, called The Pearl, is a new Hollywood blockbuster called The Skyscraper that opened this weekend. According to Dezeen: “The movie’s director Rawson Marshall Thurber wanted to make the building believable, so enlisted Chicago-based Smith — whose firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture is behind some of the world’s tallest structures — to advise on the project during the writing process.” (via Dezeen)

Works by 20th century artists Picasso, Rufino Tamayo, Helen Frankenthaler, Milton Avery, Richard Diebenkorn, Isamu Noguchi, Ellsworth Kelly, Saul Steinberg, Claes Oldenburg and many others were put on display in 1973 with the opening of the Times Mirror Building, which adjoined the existing newspaper headquarters.

The artwork was a physical manifestation of the company’s immense power and momentum in those halcyon days, said author Margaret Leslie Davis.

“It was this ethos that Los Angeles had arrived. [They] are not buying Old Masters — this isn’t for the socialites, this isn’t for the ladies page. This is modern and bold, reflective of the new Los Angeles,” said Davis, whose book about Murphy, “The Culture Broker,” details the creation of the art collection. “This was really radical. It showed tremendous taste — an informed sensibility of what was worth buying and presenting in terms of the Times Mirror image to the world.”

Dr Eleanor Scerri, an archaeologist at Oxford University, who led the international research, said: “This single origin, single population view has stuck in people’s mind … but the way we’ve been thinking about it is too simplistic.”

  • I really like this essay about Black life in art, particularly since it explores how African American experience is often foregrounded in global discussions of Black diasporas. The same is true of many other ethnic and cultural identities globally. I know from my own experience that Armenian American experience has an outsized role in global perceptions of what an Armenian is. It reminds us that most minority identities in the US are still privileged because of their role in American empire, but that’s a much bigger and more complicated conversation. I interviewed Afro-Swedish artist Makode Linde, who is mentioned in the article, back in 2012 and we discussed that exact same topic. Martin Martins article is a stimulating read:

This disconnection can be much more insidious than at first inspection. Black people are not appreciated the way Black art is; and art by Black Europeans is not appreciated the same way as art by African Americans. By extension the realities of Black people in Europe (whether European or not) are omitted.

Historically, white curators’ call of defense is that these artists (who deal with race or do not) are simply not good enough. But plenty of examples demystify that claim. For instance Julia Phillips, who has an upcoming solo show at MoMA PS1, is German. And actors Boris Kodjoe (Brown Sugar) and Florence Kasumba (Black Panther) are also German. Perhaps their strategy is to hide their Germanness so that they can be acknowledged in Germany at a later stage of success.

Giant dinosaurs lived on Earth much earlier than previously thought, according to a team of excavators in Argentina who discovered the remains of a 200-million-year old species.

  • This book is designed to show how educators “can and should make their classrooms and schools sites of resistance to white supremacy and anti-Blackness, as well as sites for knowing the hope and beauty in Blackness.” It sounds like a must-read:

It is no coincidence that this book was published now, in the era of President Trump, who is seen as normalizing racism with repeated comments in which he disparages people of color. In February, a Black Lives Matter at School movement saw thousands of teachers around the country focus lessons and conversations on institutional racism, black history and identity, and restorative justice.

Many Chinese millennials share Yang’s feelings about the Finnish way. The sparsely populated Scandinavian country came into the spotlight last month via several viral posts on Chinese social media.

On June 1, a lifestyle account on microblogging platform Weibo posted a photo of a pedestrian street in Finland with widely spaced single-person seats, all facing different directions. The post has gained more than 23,000 likes. “The most desirable migration destination for people with social phobia,” reads the most upvoted comment.

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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