“What you see is what you see” (Frank Stella)

frank stella

Frank Stella will be selling some pieces from his personal collection at Christie’s. Credit The Renate, Hans & Maria Hofmann Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Christopher Gregory for The New York Times.

Explaining the works he has amassed, Mr. Stella said, “Artists collect differently from other people… I wouldn’t bother making art if I didn’t like what the people around me were doing, too. It wouldn’t be any fun.”

(Ted Loos, “The Surprising Tale of One of Frank Stella’s Black Paintings,” NYTimes, 2-17-19)

(c) 2019 JMN.

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Decree 349

cuban artistic freedom

María Hergueta.

The decree requires artists to obtain government approval before performing or displaying their work, while also regulating the artwork itself. For example, it prohibits audiovisual content that contains “sexist, vulgar and obscene language” or that uses “national symbols” in ways that “contravene current legislation.” Government inspectors can impose fines on offenders and confiscate their property.

One of the most eloquent voices against the decree has been that of [Anton] Arrufat, an 83-year-old poet, playwright and novelist who has lived through the ups and downs of the Cuban Revolution. “All attempts at censorship ultimately fail,” he told me, “because all they do is turn a work of art into a monument: They call attention to it and give it fame. In the end the censor will be forgotten and the work will live on.”

(Ruben Gallo, “Is This the End of Cuba’s Astonishing Artistic Freedom?,” NYTimes, 2-18-19)

(c) 2019 JMN.

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Massive Attack

massive attack

‘I felt that [with] Mezzanine, the procedure had to be ripped up, the rulebook had to be changed’: Robert del Naja, right, and Grant Marshall. Photograph: Warren Du Preez & Nick Thornton/Warren Du Preez & Nick Thornton Jones.

“Gigs have become very formulaic these days,” adds [Adam] Curtis. “Not just gigs but all of culture – and that’s the challenge. The way you make people look again is by finding a different sort of image. And so the overall aim is to show how over the past 20 years, we’ve gone into a very static, repetitive world that surrounds us with the same images that keep us from really looking.”

“… It’s just not the same world any more in terms of concentration. Attention span’s the biggest commodity of all now. Data is the new oil. It’s inside your head. That’s where the value is and so is the tension. I mean, trying to get anyone to concentrate on anything when people get excited if the audience swipes down a page. If you actually stop and click,… that’s gold.”

(Adam Curtis, documentary film maker, and Robert Del Naja, a founding member of British music group Massive Attack, quoted by Nosheen Iqbal, “Massive Attack: ‘I have total faith in the next generation,’” The Guardian, 2-17-19)

(c) 2019 JMN.

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“Stubbies” Defined

australias new normal

Sally Deng.

Laconic residents [of Queensland, Australia] are interviewed every wet season standing in the debris of their cyclone-battered homes, clad in Stubbies (shapeless gabardine shorts that expose bum-cracks and, on a bad day, drooping genitals), drinking stubbies (small brown bottles of beer), making understated comments about the danger and the damage: “Yeah, it got a bit windy there for a while. Reckon me roof’s being recycled in Fiji by now …”

(Kim Mahood, “Australia’s Burning, Flooding, Disastrous New Normal,” NYTimes, 2-14-19)

(c) 2019 JMN.

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This Is America, Too

bronx bach 1

Photograph by Stephen Hiltner.

bronx bach 2

Photograph by Stephen Hiltner.

Since 1991, the Bronx Conservatory of Music, a nonprofit arts organization, has provided low-cost education in classical music to a constituency that has been historically underexposed to the tradition. And at a time when music classes are being cut from public schools everywhere, it has become an unlikely success story: a weekly pop-up school that trains students, more than 80 percent of whom are black or Hispanic, in a musical tradition long characterized by a lack of racial diversity.

(Stephen Hiltner, “Saturdays in the Bronx With Bach,” NYTimes, 2-15-19)

(c) 2019 JMN.

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“Moral Multiplier”

houston flood after harvey

Flooding in a residential area near the Brazos River south of Houston in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey. Credit Barbara Davidson for The New York Times.

… The effects of individual lifestyle choices are ultimately trivial compared with what politics can achieve… Buying an electric car is a drop in the bucket compared with raising fuel-efficiency standards sharply… That is what is meant when politics is called a “moral multiplier”… We shouldn’t ask anyone — and certainly not everyone — to manage his or her own carbon footprint before we even really try to enact laws and policies that would reduce all of our emissions… That is the purpose of politics: that we can be and do better together than we might manage as individuals.

(David Wallace-Wells, “Time To Panic,” NYTimes, 2-16-19)

(c) 2019 JMN.

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Maurice Sendak’s Allure

Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak in 1963. Credit Sam Falk/The New York Times.

“Reaching the kids is important, but secondary,” Sendak once said. “First, always, I have to reach and keep hold of the child in me…” With their flattened perspective, the book’s pages have the allure of the poster, brazen, sleek and sturdy [referring to “In the Night Kitchen,” 1970].

(Maria Russo, “In Praise of Maurice Sendak,” NYTimes, 2-14-19)

(c) 2019 JMN.

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