Weekend

Required Reading

This week, Pantone picks the color of the year, the origin of abstract art, Albrecht Dürer’s ads, crowdfunding Kusama in Toronto, and more.

Pantone has chosen “Living Coral” as their color of the year. It almost seems like a cruel joke about environmentalism, but it is pretty. (via Pantone)

Spilling ink onto paper, moving it around by tilting the sheet, drawing it out with the nub of the pen, brushing the quill’s feather across the surface, mixing it with graphite, blotting with cloth, dabbling with fingers — Hugo created a contemplative poetics of abstraction startling in its originality. Many relate to landscape — the stones of the show’s title. Earlier images of a church belfry, hilltop castles, threateningly fantastic monsters, natural phenomena like the cloud-covered moon or breaking waves, and even a spider industriously toiling in its web seem to melt into the nonobjective atmosphere of ink-stained paper.

According to Metzger, Praying Hands and a few other associated drawings were produced “to advertise Dürer’s talents”. They would have been brought out to show a range of prospective clients the quality they could expect from a commission from the artist.

He also argues that the drawing depicts Dürer’s own hands. “The very delicate fingers and hands are reminiscent of those in the 1500 Munich self-portrait. The little finger of the partially hidden hand on the left in the drawing seems to have a curvature or stiffening of the joint, which appears in other self-portraits, such as the 1493 drawing at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.”

In many ways, a Kusama was the right artist to pick for an AGO crowdfunding campaign. Ticket demand and social media mentions to the show were very high for the AGO’s Kusama exhibition this spring, and Kusama has been called “perhaps the most Instagrammed artist ever”—so when generating online donations, it seems like more of a lock than a lesser-known artist.

“It was the right campaign for the right issue,” says Paul Nazareth, VP education and development at the Canadian Association of Gift Planners, of the AGO’s Kusama crowdfunding effort. “That’s because the AGO is the largest organization of its kind [in Ontario] and that exhibit had the most amount of human volume. The things that line up to be solid on crowdfunding is you have to have high volume, high engagement, things like Instagrammability—and this was the largest Instagram event in Canada in some time.”

The AGO saw more than 165,000 visit the exhibition—with both visiting and not visiting being motivations for some donors. “During the campaign, we received a wide range of feedback regarding Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors,” says an AGO spokesperson. “Several #InfinityAGO donors told us they donated because of the wonderful experience they had at the exhibition and that they wanted to share this experience with the wider community. Others, who couldn’t get tickets to the exhibition, told us they chose to give to #InfinityAGO as a way to get—or give—guaranteed early access to see the work.”

  • The only redeeming thing about Lena Dunham’s chronic guffaws (I’m being kind) are the takedowns that inevitably follow, like this one:

This continued support for Dunham is indicative of the fundamental problem with white feminism: it has always been about shifting power to white women, and no one else. It says that white women should be empowered and praised regardless of whether or not they are ethical, moral, or decent. White feminists have been vapid white supremacists, nationalists, and xenophobes. Supporters of eugenics, forced sterilization, genocide, and colonization. Parishioners of doctrines that promote slavery, prison industrialism, and other exploitative capitalist interests. Purveyors of misogynoir, fetishism, dehumanization, and cultural appropriation. Active deployers and celebrators of white violence. These women don’t deserve a platform for their ideas, but the basic tenets of white feminism tell us they do, even as they have consistently provided footing for the white heteropatriarchal structure they claim to want to dismantle.

  • @joaniesucks points out something interesting about Lena Dunham’s artist dad (no comment, but read the whole thread):

With a nice buzz going, I crack open a brandy-loaded Frosty Snowflake iced fruit cake. The report says two slices will get me over the limit – so I hack off a quarter and stuff it into my face as fast as I can. My breathalyser reads 1.2% BAC. Booyah! I am hammered, and it is only 9.47am. You know what? Let’s keep this party going.

For Facebook, though, those shares meant something else: a precise value to its bottom line. As the Silicon Valley saw goes, “If the product is free, you are the product.” Every moment of every day, Facebook mined the data generated by 2 billion users and gave advertisers tools to reach them in creepily precise ways. Companies could target women in Houston who were in their 30s, had young children, and read articles about personal finance. Or men older than 55 who watched Fox News and browsed fishing gear. Or self-described “Jew haters” who shopped for ammo. No pesky human judgment involved, just the algorithm and its endless capacity to aggregate people’s predilections and assign them a dollar value.

Which brings us to the moment when, as that commercial says, “something happened.” Except it didn’t just happen: The transformation of Facebook into a tool for demagogues and foreign attackers was facilitated at every step by Facebook itself. And the more we find out about how the company—and other platforms—handled this threat, the more we discover where their priorities really lie.

I will be on vacation for the next two weeks, so Required Reading will be prepared by Elisa Wouk Almino during that period.

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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