Maybe not stranger than fiction

But it's so strange it sounds like it could be fiction. A group of French underground--literally--artists and hackers use their skills to put on secret film festivals, help museums with their security flaws, and fix things. Conservative secret organization that illegally preserves national treasures? Only in France.

It made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs!

You should watch this three-minute video if you like stop-motion photography, Legos and/or the Millennium Falcon. If you like none of those, I really don't know what to say to you.

Word Above the Street

The Word Above the Street project will raise global water awareness by putting art on water tanks in New York City. Among the artists expected to participate is Jay-Z.

So here's your task: write me a Jigga-worthy verse...about water. Put your submissions in the comments.

Over the River. Maybe. Some day?

Christo's Over the River project has been pushed back at least another year. The new plan is for the fabric to go up in 2015, "at the earliest." The original schedule was for "2001 at the earliest."

Decoding Images

Art in America Magazine has a quasi-interactive online feature called Decoding Images, where artists give short explanations to their works. I'm interested to hear what you think of the feature in general as well as what you think about any of the images they "decode."

Follow-up on the Fourth Plinth

Here is a slideshow featuring the statue officially unveiled today as well as all the past works from the project.

More auction news

Since no one came to my aid for the Rothko, and no one mentioned buying one of the canine portraits, I assume you're saving your money for something big. Here it is: Munch's The Scream is going to be auctioned in New York, and is expected to go for at least $80 million. Actually, it's one of four versions of The Scream; this New York Times blog has all four of them so you can compare. Good luck bidding! (Buyer be warned: The Scream seems to be a popular target for thieves.)

The Fourth Plinth

If you're not already familiar with the Fourth Plinth Project: have a quick look at this and this.

Ok, good. Now: the newest fourth plinth work is about to be unveiled, a statue of a boy on a toy horse. Check the news in a week or so to read reactions and reviews.

Instantly my new favorite thing in the world

Martin Kimas makes these photos the old-fashioned way: he drops porcelain figures and photographs them at the moment of impact.

While you're at it, go to his website to look at the series where he photographs perfectly still flowers...and shoots their vases with a steel ball. The photos, taken in one seven thousanth of a second, are stunning.

Cindy Sherman

The NY Times has a introduction to Cindy Sherman for her retrospective at MOMA. We'll be covering her next week, and this explains a lot.

Poster Cred

Maybe they're not "fine art," but these are the most fun, versatile stickers ever!

So, a surrealist walks into a rodeo

Thanks to Timothy for looking this up for me. I knew there had to be a photograph!

On the right is Dominique de Menil. She's talking to Renee Magritte, whom she brought to a rodeo while he was visiting. Because even surrealist painters need to see a real live rodeo when they're in Texas. I love his souvenir hat, and I really want to know what the cowboy on the left is thinking about.

Rothkomatic for iPad

So I didn't find the interactive Starry Night available for my iPad, but I did find an app to create your own Rothko paintings. As much as I dislike the trivialization of Rothko's amazing work, I'm having fun with this.

Happy Valentine's Day!

By custom I should put up Klimt's The Kiss or at least this photo, but instead I'm going to direct you to a special museum in Croatia: the Museum of Broken Relationships. Enjoy!

The Art Museum

My parents gave me The Art Museum for Christmas, and it is just about the most amazing book ever made. It's giant: 18" x 13", almost 1,000 pages, almost 3,000 high-quality color photos. It's the Platonic Ideal of an art museum--except that it's in book form. You really want this book.

I have run into a couple of problems, though. For one, it's expensive. It lists for $200, and even on Amazon will cost you at least a hundred. Compare this to college textbooks, though, and I think it seems a bit more reasonable. Also, it weighs in at 18 pounds. Due to its oversized pages and weight, I literally have no bookshelf for this in my house. If I had a larger coffee table and no small children in the house, it would be prominently displayed. As it is, I keep it on the floor under our desk and pull it out from time to time. But I'll be looking at this book for years and years. It has everything.

More in the "why not?" category

This morning I went to check Colossal: Art and Design, and this is what I found: an animated, interactive Starry Night. I hope this becomes--or already is--an app for my iPad.


Remember this story? Let this one be a reminder that you should only steal art from the hotel if they publicly invite you to do so.

Tricycle Calligraphy

One of my favorite activities as a wee lad was when my grandma would let me "paint" on her patio with old housepainting brushes and water.

It turns out that water calligraphy is a cool old-guy pastime in China.

But this American figured out a way, of course, to mechanize and computerize the process.

Festival of Lights

Don't translate. Just look.

More Barbie art. Why not?

Peihang Huang has painted some amazing dreamy portraits of Barbie. Have a look at Floral Funeral and Mad World.

"things made for looking at"

I believe that this is the Twombly-Poussin pairing that Erin brought up in class. I don't believe it shows a direct line of "influence" between Poussin and Twombly, but is rather meant to show how two very different masters from two very different times and contexts worked with the same content and medium. I would love to see more shows like this. I would really love to see this show, actually.

All about the money

An exhibit in Italy looks at the birth of the modern banking system as it's portrayed in Renaissance art and artifacts.

I wonder what sorts of art is being made today about banking. The Occupy movement is giving us some interesting stuff, but it's largely made up of posters and direct references. There's also a lot of art work about the influence of money on art.

Need more Caravaggio?

Here's a short video interview that, among other things, explains the artichoke incident a bit more.

Plus another blurb on the David and Goliath.

You can also visit the artist's website. Of course he has one.

"I Throw Myself at Men"

Check out this Slate slideshow of Lilly McElroy's project where she makes a cliche literal.

Question of the day: what other cliches, especially those having to do with love or gender, would you like to see made literal? And don't say "heart on your sleeve." That's gross and kind of already been done.

Mona Lisa's twin sister

The Prado museum in Spain has an early replica of Leonardo's Mona Lisa. After cleaning and restoration, they now believe it was painted by one of Leonardo's pupils, probably alongside Leonardo as he painted the original. The experts think this is huge, because the better-preserved and restored copy gives a glimpse of what the original looked like when it was painted.

I, not being an expert, am fascinated by two other questions: was this a normal practice, to have pupils copy your work as you were painting it? And if the two paintings were made simultaneously of the same subject, is Leonardo's necessarily more "original" than the pupil's? Or does Leonardo get OP (Original Painter) status because he's the master?

Click here for the interactive feature.

Bonus: have you ever just done a Google Image search for "Mona Lisa"? There's some funny stuff.