Gangnam Style

I never thought I'd be mentioning the international hit "Gangnam Style" on this blog, but then international artist extraordinaire Ai Weiei went and made his own spoof. So how can I resist? For an interesting contextualization and defense of the video (and to give credit to where I got this photo), check here.

Art for Rent

Artsicle is a New York startup that hooks young art lovers up with inexpensive art...for rent. One co-owner calls it "Zappos for art." I love Zappos as much as the next guy, but I wouldn't spend much money there if I were only renting the shoes. We'll see how this goes.

Caves, bulls, and chicks

What did the artists in Lasceaux and Altamira have in mind when they were making cave paintings? We don't know. But some "researchers in neuroaesthetics" have some theories.

Life imitating art?

The brains of Google

The corridor to Hal

The brains of HAL 9000.
The cool thing about working at Google? No space suit required.

The amazing and surprisingly beautiful photos Google released of their data centers reminded me of a certain 1968 Stanley Kubrick film.

Texas Contemporary Art Fair

The second Texas Contemporary Art Fair is this weekend. I would really like to go, but I think I have too many other commitments to be able to make it. So please: 1) go, and 2) tell me about it, hopefully with 3) photos.

Another use for Google Earth

Sure, you can use Google Earth to find roads. But you can also use it to find 9th-century canals that helped build Angkor Wat.

Friday Night Lights

Or Monday and Wednesday nights, in this case. It seems the lights from the intra-mural sports fields are interfering with the light show at the new Skyspace at Rice. Surely Rice University has folks smart enough to solve this problem quickly.


I have this photo because it was the top hit on a Google Image search for "Houston Art"

Do you live in Houston? What do you think about art? It seems people are asking, and they're compiling answers.

Art graffiti is nothing new

One of the challenges that restorers of a 17th-century fresco have to deal with is graffiti scratched into an angels wing.

Another art attack

Sunday a man tagged one of Rothko's Seagram Murals at the Tate in London. The man posted a picture of his work online, and claims that he is making some sort of a statement about living art and making new works. He compares himself to Marcel Duchamp.

Note to the vandal: Duchamp marked up a postcard of the Mona Lisa, not the freakin' Mona Lisa. "Re-appropriation" goes hand in hand with reproduction, for better or worse. Duchamp taught us this. You're a moron.

And a personal note: my "bucket list" currently has only one item--to go to London and see the Seagram Murals.


This is your periodic reminder that one of the nation's finest art museums is only a few hours away from us, and that you should go visit it some time soon.

Another cool "guerrilla installation"

What might be even better than fake historical marker signs? What about magnetic butterflies? These are gorgeous, and they can be stuck almost anywhere.

Demolition Watch: Wright House

A (really cool) house that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for his son is set to be demolished by developers. But the Phoenix mayor's office has stepped in to the controversy, and the house is now under 24-hour police protection.

What they've learned

I came across this "What I've Learned" list, with arts administrators explaining the lessons they've learned through their careers. Arts administrators? Who cares? I ain't no stinkin' arts administrator! There are two good reasons to take some time to read through this (I haven't read it all yet, but I am committed to reading it all over the next few days):

1. If you're interested in art history and are thinking about a career related to art history, then there's a really good chance you're thinking about being an administrator--or at least working closely with them. Even if you prefer the academic route, you'll most likely end up doing administration too.

2. Most of this advice is good for anyone in any career, even if you're not at all interested in being an art historian. Want to be an engineer? A comic book artist? A sales person? This is still good advice from people who have been working for decades.

Painterly pranks

"Houbraken's portrait is of a rather cantankerous, compulsively avaricious master whom the students would deliberately deceive by painting coins on the floor which Rembrandt would then stoop to collect."  Schama, Simon. Rembrandt's Eyes, p. 518.

The new Carnegie building wouldn't pass muster

British codes for new school buildings, aiming at lower cost and the ability to replicate at multiple sites, wants to get rid of curved walls, rooftop terraces, and non-standard materials. At least architecturally, schools should be as cheap and boring as possible.

The art of food


This weekend I watched the documentary El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, which follows the chefs at El Bulli for a year. [If you're not familiar with the restaurant El Bulli and its super-star chef, Ferran Adria, you might want to have a look here. But please note that it's not a working restaurant any more] They spend six months of the year in a test kitchen preparing new ideas for the upcoming season while the restaurant is closed, and then they integrate their new dishes into the menu over the following months. The movie has no narration and doesn't really tell a story. It's just a look into the process that ends up making this amazing avant-garde food. Two things struck me as I watched that remind me of the creative process and the visual arts that we're studying in class.

1. It's highly organized. The chefs aren't just throwing ingredients around and playing to see what happens. The first half of the movie is dominated by charts, photos, and binders. Lots of binders. They take an ingredient--sweet potatoes, for example--and then run an exhaustive system of tests and experiments. What happens when we cut it this way, and then fry it in oil? When we cut it that way, and dehydrate it? Or if we cut it this way, and vacuum seal it? And once they've run those tests, they start combining ingredients and all the combinations of techniques. Each test is noted in a database with a photo, and the database is printed, copied, and organized into binders. The only time in the movie when we see Adria get really angry and throw the kind of fit that chefs are known for? When one of the sous chefs has his hard drive die on him. But, explains the assistant, that's why we have it in binder and copied. We've lost nothing. I don't want papers! the executive chef yells, I don't need more paper! I want it on the computer! Even though I was already fairly familiar with El Bulli and the kind of revolutionary food they serve, I was still surprised to learn that in the six months when the restaurant is closed they don't actually create new dishes. They simply run all these tests and experiments to give them ideas when they actually open the restaurant and start creating dishes based on the ingredients available at the time.

2. The professional kitchen is run exactly like the old studio system. Ferran Adria is the celebrity chef who owns and runs the restaurant. It's his vision and his ethos the restaurant promotes. And yet, at least in the movie, we hardly ever see him cook. He tastes and organizes and gives feedback and talks on the phone a lot, but it's his four head and sous chefs who do most of the groundwork. And then, when the restaurant opens, they have about 40 interns come in to learn and do the day-to-day preparation. At one point Adria tells a group of apprentices that his job is the creative aspect, and that production is up to them. This is no different than the artist's workshop from medieval Europe up to the 19th century. The master gets the commissions, organizes the composition, and puts on the final and difficult touches. A workshop of journeymen and apprentices do the groundwork. This is true, even today, of many non-visual arts, like fashion. The notion that a single artist does all the work that bears his name is actually a fairly new and Romantic ideal. Andy Warhol and his Factory system was much more traditional than it may have seemed, as is the system several major artists use today where much of the basic work is done by underpaid or unpaid workers.

If you're interested in super-high-end food, check out El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, and also watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi.