2020’s Best Visual Art

Andrea Scott: “For months, looking at art became staring at screens, and a new three-letter acronym entered the lexicon: O.V.R., for “online viewing room.” If that sounds like an enticement to see artists envision new forms with digital means, downgrade your expectations to “slideshow.” Still, the art world has been luckier than other cultural sectors of New York City.” – The New Yorker
Tags: Art, New York City, Visual, Andrea Scott, 12.30.20

We Eat Ourselves To Change (?)

Leon Wieseltier: “Everything will be different: this is a ubiquitous sentiment. In all our upheavals — social and epidemiological — so much seems to be wrong and so much seems to be slipping away that one may be forgiven for enjoying a fantasy of total change. All these horrors, all these outrages, all these marches, and the world stays the same? So the first thing that needs to be said in the effort to keep our heads is that everything never changes.” – Liberties Journal
Tags: Art, Ideas, Leon Wieseltier, 12.20

What Mark Swed Learned About Listening This Year

“It soon dawned on me that I was no longer in the realm of how to listen but that of why we must listen. The central tenet in John Cage’s philosophy of art — and, for that matter, of life — is the essential need to pay attention. Listening really does matter. That message, moreover, was all around us.” – Los Angeles Times
Tags: Art, Music, Los Angeles, John Cage, Mark Swed, 12.30.20

Using High Tech To Preserve Imagery Of India’s Ancient Cave Paintings

In the 1990s, art historian Benoy Behl developed his own low-light photography techniques to capture the famous Buddhist murals in the Ajanta caves. Since then, he’s been using digital technology to correct for the deterioration that time and the breath of visitors have caused in the paintings, so that we can see their imagery in something like its original state. – South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)
Tags: Art, India, Visual, Buddhist, South China Morning Post, 12.30.20, Benoy Behl

2020 – A Year Of Ideas

In a year that felt like it changed everything, people also began contemplating how we might rebuild differently, with new ideas about how to fix the climate crisis, how we work, and how we live. – Fast Company
Tags: Art, Ideas, 12.30.20

New York’s Grand New Train Station Is No Grand Central

Grand Central is inviting, harmonious, soothing even in moments of frenzy. Moynihan self-consciously tries to reconcile old-timey graciousness and contemporary cool, muted stone and garish screens. – Curbed
Tags: Art, New York, Visual, Moynihan, 12.30.20

Hollywood Owes A Lot To Theatre. Should It Find Ways To Give Back?

If Hollywood is going to continue reaping the creative benefits of the theater — the actors’ training, the ambitious storytelling, the characters fleshed out over countless rewrites — it bears an obligation, artistic and moral, to assist the theater in its time of need. – Los Angeles Times
Tags: Art, Hollywood, Theatre, Los Angeles, 12.30.20

How The Millennial Generation Burned Out

According to Anne Petersen, the main difference between millennials and the rest of the precariat is that we once had such great expectations. Molded in the mythos of meritocracy, our generation was raised to believe that we could beat bad circumstances and secure personal stability — if we simply worked hard enough. This happy ending has not materialized for most of us, and there has been extensive emotional fallout. – Los Angeles Review of Books
Tags: Art, Ideas, Anne Petersen, 12.29.20

Remembering The Arts And Culture Figures Who Passed In 2020

From Olivia de Havilland to Diana Rigg to Ann Reinking; from Kirk Douglas to Sean Connery to Chadwick Boseman; from Elizabeth Wurtzel to Jan Morris to John le Carré; from Vera Lynn to Kenny Rogers to Little Richard; from Terrence McNally to Larry Kramer; from Krzysztof Penderecki to Ennio Morricone; from Julian Bream to Leon Fleisher to Ida Haendel to Ivry Gitlis; from Christo to Luchida Hurtado; and from Sumner Redstone to Alex Trebek. (Click here for a more complete, bulleted list sorted by m...
Tags: Art, People, John Le Carre, Richard, Alex Trebek, Jan Morris, Sean Connery, Diana Rigg, Ennio Morricone, Sumner Redstone, Chadwick Boseman, Christo, Kirk Douglas, Kenny Rogers, Larry Kramer, Olivia de Havilland

‘Frankenstein’: An Oral History of a Monstrous Broadway Flop, Exactly 40 Years Ago

“When the curtain went up at the Palace Theater on Jan. 4, 1981, the expectations — and the stakes — were high. Frankenstein, an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel, had cost a reported $2 million, at the time a record for a Broadway play. The screen legend John Carradine and a young Dianne Wiest were in the cast, and the unprecedented stage effects came courtesy of Bran Ferren, the wunderkind behind the mind-bending hallucinations in the film Altered States, released two weeks earlier.’ But the...
Tags: Art, Theatre, Broadway, Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, Dianne Wiest, John Carradine, 12.30.20

New York Gets A New Train Station Filled With Art

The 255,000-square-foot train hall is inside the James A. Farley postal building, the grandiose Beaux-Arts structure designed by McKim Mead & White in 1912, two years after the original Pennsylvania Station. – The New York Times
Tags: Art, Pennsylvania, Visual, McKim Mead White, 12.20.20, James A Farley

Alaska’s Capital Aims To Become A Hotbed Of Indigenous Art

Juneau already has a surprising number of galleries for an isolated town of 32,000 that can’t really be reached by road. In particular, the work of Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian artists is thriving. Now a nonprofit called Sealaska Heritage Institute aims “[to make] Juneau the Northwest Coast arts capital of the world.” – Smithsonian Magazine
Tags: Art, Alaska, Visual, Juneau, Northwest coast, Sealaska Heritage Institute, Tsimshian, 12.23.20

Important LA Jazz Club Closes For Good

Statistics can’t begin to describe the importance of The Blue Whale to the jazz ecology, in Los Angeles and beyond. On social media, testimonials have flowed freely from musicians and fans, along with expressions of sorrow. – WBGO
Tags: Art, Music, Los Angeles, The Blue Whale, 12.30.20, LA Jazz Club

Where Writing Historical Novels Can Get You Thrown Into Prison For Life

Yes, there are a number of countries where this is the case. But one that has an ongoing history of jailing its most famous writers, even as it claims to be an elective democracy is Turkey, where Ahmet Altan is now living in a 13-foot-long cell in Europe’s largest prison complex. Fellow novelist Kaya Genç (himself free, at least for now) looks at Altan’s case and at his magnum opus, the Ottoman Quartet, whose last volume, if it’s written at all, will come from behind bars. – The New Republic ...
Tags: Art, Europe, Turkey, Words, Kaya Genc, Ahmet Altan, Altan, 12.30.20

David Medalla, Sculptor Who Created ‘Cloud Canyons’, Dead At 78

“[He] was something of a cult figure until recently, with his pioneering sculptures of the 1960s mainly known to European curators and historians, who have featured them in major biennials and surveys over the past decade. But a growing fan base has also come to recognize the artist, who … is [now] best known for his Cloud Canyons sculptures, which feature looping organic-looking forms that emit soap bubbles. Medalla labeled these works ‘auto-creative art’.” – ARTnews
Tags: Art, People, David Medalla, 12.28.20

BalletX’s New Streaming Platform Starts To Fulfill Its Promise

The Philadelphia company’s response to the pandemic was to try to develop online dance compelling enough that people would pay for it. The result is BalletX Beyond, which streams three new concert dance videos every second month on a subscription basis. One of the latest to create work for BalletX Beyond is former NYCB principal and Broadway star Robbie Fairchild, whose The Cycle was inspired by, and filmed at, Longwood Gardens. – Harper’s Bazaar
Tags: Art, Dance, Broadway, Philadelphia, NYCB, Robbie Fairchild, BalletX, 12.28.20, Longwood Gardens Harper

Tomorrow Is Public Domain Day – Here Is Some Of The Art Of 1925 That’s Now Available

These works include books such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time, and Franz Kafka’s The Trial (in the original German), silent films featuring Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton, and music ranging from the jazz standard Sweet Georgia Brown to songs by Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, W.C. Handy, and Fats Waller. – Center for the Study of the Public Domain
Tags: Art, Issues, Gertrude, Scott Fitzgerald, Buster Keaton, Rainey, Franz Kafka, Harold Lloyd, 12.30.20, Great Gatsby Virginia Woolf, Dalloway Ernest Hemingway, Fats Waller Center

After A Very Rough 2020, Can The Philadelphia Museum Of Art Make The Changes It Needs?

On top of the COVID shutdown and the consequent loss of income and layoff and furloughs, the museum faced the public revelation of abusive behavior by two former managers — and senior administration’s far too slow dismissal of the offenders. As the long-underway interior expansion of the PMA’s main building opens to the public, will the policies and employment culture there be improved as well? The president and board chair say they’re working on it. – The Philadelphia Inquirer
Tags: Art, Philadelphia, Visual, PMA, 12.30.20

A Woman Comedian Made Jokes About Overconfident Men. No Big Deal? It Was Where She Performs.

“Yang Li … is a comedian in China, where homes and offices still hold fast to traditional gender roles and where a nascent #MeToo movement has been met with considerable political and social opposition. One of her lines in particular has set off fierce online debate: ‘How can he look so average and still have so much confidence?’ A lot of men didn’t find it funny. And that, said many of Ms. Yang’s defenders, is exactly the point.” – The New York Times
Tags: Art, China, Issues, Yang, Yang Li, 12.30.20

Europe’s Largest Movie Market Saw Business Down By 70% This Year

That would be France, where total box office receipts were more than $1 billion lower than in 2019. (For a year like 2020, those figures may not be so terrible.) Unusually, no French film was in the top five this year; equally unusual is that French movies had a higher share of domestic ticket sales than American titles for the first time in 14 years. – Variety
Tags: Art, Europe, Media, France, 12.30.20

Clever Baritone Works Out Way For Choirs To Sing Together Even Though Everyone’s Safely In Their Own Cars

As one bitterly disappointed singer posted on Facebook after the pandemic had ended all choir rehearsals, “Every time I hear someone go, ‘Hey, is there an app that can let me do a choir rehearsal with no latency?’ NOT UNLESS YOU BREAK PHYSICS, YA DUMMY.” Baritone David Newman replied, “Physics are not insurmountable.” And his solution requires only some inexpensive audio equipment available at almost any Walmart or Best Buy. – Los Angeles Times
Tags: Art, Facebook, Music, Walmart, David Newman, 12.30.00

Brutal Bacon, wild Gehry and unmissable Abramovic: 2021's best art, architecture and photography

Rodin, Bacon and Eileen Agar will be big, but Abramovic’s art attack could eclipse them all. Plus Frank Gehry unleashes a tornado and Helen Levitt shows how street photography should be done Continue reading...
Tags: Art, Photography, Culture, Architecture, Art and design, Frank Gehry, Francis Bacon, Lewis Carroll, Turner prize, Anish Kapoor, Renzo Piano, Abramović, Auguste Rodin, Gehry, Heather Phillipson, Helen Levitt

'Twas a Year Full of New Line, 2020 Pandemic Edition

'Twas a year filled with New Line, well, okay, not "filled;"Our season chopped off at the knees, Covid killed. Our Urinetown canceled, and our Something Rotten,Such wonderful shows! May they not be forgotten! So here is my poem, because it's tradition,An annual event, like our annual audition,But this year, a shorter, Pandemic Edition.So last January -- remember pre-doom?When people could gather, all in the same room?We hosted a reading of my newest show,Called Bloody King Oedipus! (Wouldn't y...
Tags: Musicals, Theatre, Live, Performing Arts, Broadway, Theater, Scott Miller, New Musicals, Musical Comedy, Musical Theatre, Rock Musical

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