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Posted inArt

The Sad Story of Jumbo the Elephant

MEDFORD, Mass. — Poor Jumbo. In P.T. Barnum’s hands he became the most famous African elephant in the world — lure to throngs of circus visitors and unknowing shill for countless products. His outsized fame, undimmed by his premature demise, has much to tell us about the rise of a celebrity-driven entertainment economy.

Posted inArt

Bit Rot: The Limits of Conservation

Bad things can happen to almost any art. Casino impresario Steve Wynn famously stuck an elbow through his Picasso while bragging about the high price he was about to get for his trophy canvas, and a clumsy visitor to the Fitzwilliam Museum managed to trip on a staircase and take out a whole row of important Chinese vases displayed on an adjacent windowsill.