Required Reading

A GIF by Croatian artist Paolo Čerić (via Colossal)
A GIF by Croatian artist Paolo Čerić (via Colossal)

This week, Hillary Clinton on art, Carl Andre knows he can’t draw, the Sistine Chapel has major problems, Larry Gagosian gets profiled, the Rijksmuseum buys its first abstract painting, the Egyptian arts community’s problems with their government, and more.

  Hillary Clinton writes a short piece about “The Diplomacy of Art” for Vanity Fair:

In my line of work, we often talk about the art of diplomacy as we try to make people’s lives a little better around the world. But, in fact, art is also a tool of diplomacy. It reaches beyond governments, past the conference rooms and presidential palaces, to help us connect with more people in more places. It is a universal language in our search for common ground, an expression of our shared humanity.

  According to China Daily:

Shanghai’s first large-scale exhibition from the Pompidou in Paris proves to be a challenge for local viewers.

“Majority of them are confused with the art work,” says Zhan Hao, an art critic from Shanghai. “They come because they think it is fashionable to walk in front of the art that they can’tunderstand.”

… Zhan says contemporary art works are like crops in the field and to understand the crop, oneneeds to know the field.

  Famed minimalist Carl Andre admits:

“I’m a terrible painter … Really awful. I’m also a hopeless drawer. As someone once said of me, I can’t draw treacle out of a barrel.”

  Some major Sistine Chapel restoration drama:

Ironically, the “cleaning” of the ceiling, which arguably constitutes the greatest single restoration calamity of the 20th century, occurred at a time when picture restorers had skilfully rebranded themselves as safe, scientifically validated “conservators” of all that is valuable – even though Kenneth Clark had recently admitted to having founded the National Gallery’s science department in the late 1930s in order to dupe the public and wrong-foot restoration critics. A grandly titled “Laboratory for Scientific Research” had been created at the Vatican in 1922 on the “latest ideas” but during the 1980s Italian restorers admitted that running technical “tests” before restorations was professional “window-dressing” because it was always known in advance which materials were to be used.

  New York Magazine published a major profile on gallerist Larry Gagosian last week but the sad thing is there are no real revelations here, mostly stuff we already knew.

  The Rijksmuseum bought its first abstract painting. Guess who it is by.

Related: Some info about the 10-year renovation of the famed museum, which is finally opening.

  A globe-trotting performance artist invites the world into her Williamsburg apartment, where every room is a stage. This is a story of one artist’s artistic practice in her “studio.”

  Popular design blog Dezeen has finally launched an opinion column, so they won’t only be reporting design-related news but taking stands on issues. More opinions on design culture are very welcome in my opinion.

  Another troubling sign from the Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, he has shirked off a longheld tradition of meeting with writers at the Cairo book fair. According to Ahram Online:

Egyptian writers and intellectuals expressed their dismay at the cancellation of the “old tradition” of a presidential meeting, saying that the decision would deepen the rupture between culture and politics.

“It’s plain that he chose to meet the industry men, not the ones who give life to this industry. He chose to meet the businessmen instead of the writers and intellectuals,” said writer and former presidential consultant Ayman El-Sayyad.

Writer Mohammed Salmawy sees the move as proof of the hostility towards culture by the Muslim Brotherhood. Salmawy believes that most Egyptian writers and intellectuals would not attend the meeting if they were invited, but he asserts that political authorities have a duty to do in caring for Egypt’s culture.

“Ignoring intellectuals and writers is a prejudice against them. The state is giving up on its responsibilities.”

The Arabist‘s Issandr El Amrani thinks it’s “pretty clearly he does not want to face a hostile crowd.” He writes:

Several years ago the much-lauded Egyptian leftist intellectual and political scientist Mohammed Sayyed Said embarrassed Mubarak at one of these “meetings with the intellectuals” — that was a very courageous move back then. In the current atmosphere, Morsi has everything to lose and little to gain.

Related: The Egyptian arts community is very concerned about the proposed new Egyptian constitution.

  A fascinating read on the evolution of art collecting:

Art went from being collected quietly in the manner of which LIoyd’s of London has operated for centuries, to all out grandstanding, glitz and glamour widely reported as much in gossip pages as in the financial press. And then of late, the art business went somewhere altogether different and came to mimic the cannibalistic ways of investment banking: with big bucks inevitably follows a certain bloodlust.

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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