Required Reading

The is the World Press Photo of the Year for 2013 for Spot News. The image, which was taken in Gaza City, Palestinian Territories, is by Sweden photojournalist Paul Hansen, who works for the Dagens Syheter daily newspaper. Hansen described the context for his photograph: “Two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and his older brother Muhammad were killed when their house was destroyed by an Israeli missile strike. Their father Fouad was also killed and their mother was put in intensive care. Fouad’s brothers carry his children to the mosque for the burial ceremony as his body is carried behind on a stretcher.” (via worldpressphoto.org)

This week, Leonardo gets digitalize at the British Museum, Abramović on the value of discipline, Piero della Francesco in America, sustainable architecture, and more.

  The British Museum has fully digitalized a Leonardo da Vinci codex in its collection (The Codex Arundel, 1478-1518) and you can now browse its pages, which contains “diagrams, drawings and brief texts, covering a broad range of topics in science and art, as well as personal notes,” virtually.

  Marina Abramović has some interesting thoughts about the value of discipline for an artist:

When you create, the higher the euphoria of creation, the lower you can fall in your private life. I made up the term ‘body drama’ to describe this idea. It’s like when you see a rock group singing to thousands and thousands of listeners. The audience gives all of its energy to the performer. It inflates the ego. Once the concert is finished, that energy can destroy. It’s why so many great performers are brought down by drugs or alcohol.

  A review of Piero della Francesca in America at the Frick Museum:

“Piero della Francesca in America,” you might say, is a kind of posthumous wish fulfillment for these collectors, who fell in love with Piero on their Italian idylls but found that all the money in the world could not buy them more than a panel or two.

And for the rest of us, it’s a reminder that some art experiences, even in an age of virtual museums and digital reconstructions, are strictly have-to-be-there.

  A history of sustainable architecture:

“Besides cars, there’s nothing more energy sucking than buildings, and as people who were designing fundamentally ecologically unfriendly things which threaten our sustainability, we should have been leaders of a green movement,” says [Steven] Nielsen. “Instead, we were pseudo intellectuals trying to please one another, creating our own design problems to solve and doing work which had nothing to do with a social concept or worldly citizenship.”

  A profile of curator Massimiliano Gioni, who is curating this year’s Venice Biennale. Did you know what he used to do for extra cash during college?

When he speaks about art, he’s engaged and informed, but just as likely to stray off topic and tell you, say, about his university days in Bologna, when he translated Harlequin romance novels for extra cash. “It was actually a decent salary, but it had terrible consequences for my psyche,” he recalls. “Then again, I knew more synonyms for ‘nipple.'”

And what does he think of art’s role in society?

“Lately,” he says, “people just think that contemporary art is something there to pass the time of the wealthy, or because everybody else is doing it or because openings are cool and fashionable.” Gioni, by contrast, sees art not as the exclusive domain of the hip and the well-to-do, but as a kind of mental playground for the masses. “We need to remind ourselves that contemporary art is first of all a form of conceptual gymnastics, in which we learn to coexist with what we don’t understand,” he says.

  A look at the Kurt Schwitters in Britain show at Tate Britain. You didn’t know Schwitters, of Merzbau fame, moved to the UK? Well … :

After fleeing Hanover, he emigrated to Norway and, two years later, he boarded the last ship to leave before the Nazi occupation. In Edinburgh, he was detained as an ‘enemy alien’ and interned until 1941 at the Hutchinson Camp on the Isle of Man with a significant number of artists and intellectuals with whom he became friends. His creativity increased during captivity and he produced over 200 works during his 16 month internment. On his release, he moved to London where he remained until the end of the war when he moved to the Lake District. His was not an easy life; he suffered from misfortune, hardship and, in his latter years, extreme ill health.

  Kriston Capps considers if the National Mall in Washington, DC is over-regulated and unfriendly to progressive architecture.

  The beginning of a trend? Artist signs with agent.

  Japan’s Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is the closest thing to a “snow highway” you’ll ever see, and it’s pretty incredible.

  And if you haven’t seen the new “Peanut Butter” video by Rupaul and Big Freedia, who we covered years ago at the 2009 Wynwood Walls, then do yourself a favorite and watch it. Pure.Fun. #NSFW

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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