Opinion

Required Reading

HWKN’s “Wendy,” a summer installation in the courtyard of MoMA PS1, has been unveiled and it looks pretty trippy. Though here is something you may not know: “Wendy is composed of nylon fabric treated with a ground breaking titania nanoparticle spray to neutralize airborne pollutants. During the summer of 2012, Wendy will clean the air to an equivalent of taking 260 cars off the road.” (via MoMA PS1)

This week, beautiful internet design, Victorian-era death photos, religious zealotry in Tunisia impacts the arts, Paul Schimmel defenders take to the blogs, reviews of Damien Hirst and Edvard Munch in London, painting in Chelsea and more.

 This may be the sweetest and best designed wedding invitation I’ve ever seen. Click, scroll down and be wow’d.

 A pretty chilling — if really really fascinating — set of Victorian-era portmortem or death photographs.

 Religious zealots in Tunisia attacked an artist for images critical of Islam and the traditional role of women in Tunisian society. There is reason for concern, according to Ahram Online:

“Under the old regime, if you didn’t touch on Ben Ali or those that surrounded him, you were alright,” said the artist. “Now, the definition of what is forbidden is expanding and it could include anything because art is about interpretation.

“They are targeting the people who ask questions, the intellectuals … anyone who can think and make others think. Journalists, students, artists. Maybe we represent a danger and will push others to refuse something or maybe we don’t correspond to their model of the Tunisian.”

The artists’ union has threatened to sue the ministers, and a petition to support Tunisian artists is circulating online, but the tight-knit community has been careful not to draw attention to those whose work was on display after a listing of artists’ names on Facebook caused deep anxiety.

 A number of art world insiders published strong reactions to the firing — or resignation — of curator Paul Schimmel. They seem to suggest doomsday scenarios for the contemporary art museum. Here are three.

LA Times critic Christopher Knight writes:

His sudden firing speaks of an intrusive board of trustees and a weak professional staff, which is a lethal combination for an art museum.

…  Not since the bad old days of the late 1960s and 1970s, when the then-new Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the old Pasadena Art Museum suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous trustees, have we seen something like this. The result back then was one hobbled museum (LACMA) that was barely a national joke, and a once adventurous institution (PAM) that went under.

Blouin Artinfo’s Tyler Green writes:

On one hand, Deitch and MOCA’s trustees deserve every bit of the public humiliation they’ve created for themselves, first with the Deitch hiring, then by presiding over a flimsy, Deitch-built exhibition schedule, one that has also included a show curated by a B-list film and soap opera actor and staged in a furniture dealer’s gallery, a Dennis Hopper retrospective quickly thrown together by a friend of the actor’s, and  a critically panned, post-Warhol show.

AFC’s Paddy Johnson writes:

I don’t think Deitch Projects was quite as bad as critics make it out to be, but there’s no denying he has a proclivity for the circus. Entertainment is fine for a commercial space, but the job of curation at a major museum comes with a broader public mission. It should worry everybody that Deitch will be LA MoCA’s defining guardian of art and culture, no matter where you live.

 Marina Warner of the London Review of Books reviews the Damien Hirst retrospective in London. This passage was particularly insightful:

The words tempus and temple share the same root; the connection suggests that the function of a sacred space is to make time stop or stretch, or render its passage palpable to the worshipper/visitor. Galleries and museums explicitly recall temples in their architecture, and they can also double as national mausoleums: they function socially in comparable ways (‘temples for atheists’), providing an occasion for assembly, for communal experiences, for finding meanings. Above all, it’s striking how crucial the idea of developing our sensitivity to time has become in contemporary artists’ work. ‘I do not think I am slowing down time,’ Tacita Dean, one of the most delicate time machinists of all, said recently, ‘but I am demanding people’s time. In a busy world, that is a big demand, but one of the many reasons why art matters is its ability to stop the rush. Art on film makes us conscious of the time and space we occupy, and gives us an insight into the nature of time itself.’

 Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” constructed of dominoes.

 More thoughts and pics from the Edvard Munch show at the Tate Modern.

 Roberta Smith of The New York Times writes about the “state” of painting in five galleries and finds, “Evidence of painting’s lively persistence is on view in Chelsea in five ambitious group exhibitions organized by a range of people: art dealers, independent curators and art historians.” I’m not sure why she limited this article to Chelsea, considering some of the best painting in the city is being show in the galleries of the Lower East Side and Brooklyn.

 Three great stop motion shorts that will make you love online video. (via Colossal)

 And finally, someone cat-ified the SFMoMA website and it look purrr-fect (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning EST, and it 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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