Quantum physics and ancient Chinese statues?

I'm not sure I understand the whole "propagating in two dimensions only once it gets under one degree Kelvin" part, but I think this says that ancient Chinese artists used a very special purple pigment that we are only just beginning to understand on a molecular level. I think.

Want to punch a Monet?

Last week a man was sentenced to six years in jail for punching a Monet painting. Punching. Here are two responses: a video game that lets you punch the painting (it even shows you the dollar amount of the damage!) and a calling out from The Toast. Enjoy!

An uplifting tale of theft and art

Here's a really sweet story about a 70 year-old retiree who gets to keep his stolen paintings by Gaugin and Bonnard. He plans to sell one for about $40 million, but he's keeping the other, which has been hanging on his kitchen wall for decades.

Alcatraz Blossoms

I knew that Ai Weiwei had an exhibit at Alcatraz in San Francisco, but I hadn't yet seen any photos from it. Blossoms--porcelain flowers in the tubs, sinks, and toilets of the medical wards--is the first I've come across, and it's eerily beautiful.

When parchment goes bad

In Art History, we look at perhaps one or two pages from a dozen books. But there were lots more books, and lots more pages. And not all those pages were perfect. A medieval book scholar has a blog post on the creative solutions scribes had for rips, tears, and imperfections in their parchment.

Mice at Sotheby's

Can you spot the Rothko? Can you spot the mice?
Even rich people can get pests in their home(s). But you have to really rich to accidentally pass the pests on to one of the largest and most prestigious auction houses in the world. Oops!

Breasts get so much attention in Las Vegas

A giant sculpture in the lobby of The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas has been hiding a secret surprise. After years, the hotel staff finally looked behind a mermaid's breasts to find the hidden art work.

Weird headline of the week

"Drunk German soccer fans steal Email Nolde painting worth millions."

Remember: friends don't let friends drink and drive try to steal art. Even if your team wins the World Cup.

On Seduction and categorization

The Toast has a funny and thoughtful lineup of paintings they say are "inaccurately categorized as 'seduction in art'" on Wikimedia Commons.

I get the point, and I'm glad they make it. But I have to say to The Toast: pretty much anyone over the age of 20 can tell you that "seduction" and "failed seduction" are related. Just because the person pushes you away, even physically, doesn't mean it wasn't a seduction. It was just a failure. I imagine a lot of these paintings would more accurately be called "failed seductions," but that doesn't make them not-seductions, does it? Or has The Toast only experienced successful seduction? Good for them.


These great photos of superheroes, Star Wars characters, and fairy tale protagonists have been quite the viral phenomenon this week. Please allow me to add to the hype.

Some art is REALLY hard to interpret

"Kryptos" is a sculpture put up at the entrance to the CIA headquarters in 1990. It has four coded messages in it, and one of them--after 24 years outside the CIA building--has yet to be deciphered. The sculptor released a few more clues this month to help people along.

Needle in a haystack

While Marina Abramovic is the most famous performance artist who works with endurance and patience, she isn't the only one.

Last week Italian Artist Sven Sachsalber spent almost 24 hours finding a needle hidden a haystack. Literally.

Les Diners de Gala

Of course Salvador Dali wrote a cookbook. I shouldn't have been surprised about that. And apparently a signed copy just sold for a few thousand dollars.

Art in Film

This tumblr tracks the art in movies and television. As in the art in the background. Some are real works used in the background, and many are art works made for the film. It's kind of fun to look through. Warning: there are a few images that aren't exactly classroom appropriate, but for the most pat it's pretty clean. Mostly.

Ceramics Masters

Thanks to Connor for passing this along. It's NOT the same method that produced the Macy Jug we looked at last week, but it's pretty cool nonetheless.

Learn those Islamic structures while you can

Among other atrocities, ISIS is destroying mausoleums, Christian churches, and other structures it finds idolatrous.

If Cindy Sherman made family portraits

They would probably look a lot like this.

Want to live in a Mondrian world?

Use this map builder, and click on "Mondrian" in the "Snazzy Map Theme" on the bottom left.

Classical sculpture in color

We know that ancient Greek and Roman sculpture was painted, but what did it look like? A group in Copenhagen uses high-tech tools to determine what kinds of pigments were used, and they've put on an exhibition of re-color-ized sculptures for a more accurate look at Greece and Rome.

Ms. Davis and I agree on this one

Now is a good time to go to Los Angeles, because the Hello Kitty! exhibit is about to begin.

The Eiffel Tower is getting a renovation

For the first time in 30 years, the Eiffel Tower is set to have some work done. A glass floor is going to be installed on the tower's first floor, allowing people to look down 57 meters below (187 feet).

Art or video games?

Do I spend my time looking at art or playing a video game? I don't have to choose: The British Museum is going to be in Minecraft.

Jeff Koons

Last week the AP Art History teacher message board got on a fun digression about art superstar Jeff Koons. If you're not familiar:

Here is a Vanity Fair piece about him. Warning--this has a photo of a man's bare backside.

Here is a review of Koons's show at the Whitney. The review calls the art "thin, puerile, and derivative."

Here is a comparison of his giant sculpture in New York and Kara Walker's giant sculpture in New York.

Here is Koons explaining his Lady Gaga cover.

Looking for a new watch?

This one has a microscopic sculpture inside it, which you can see using a specially built microscope--inside the watch. There have only been a few made, and they're surely a bargain at $1.5 million.

Art teacher has missing Banksy work

An early Banksy stencil work disappeared when the house it was painted on underwent renovation. Four years later, a local art teacher reveals she's been hiding it under her bed the whole time.

Expect no such surprises from me.

80s at the Fort Worth Modern

I've been saying for at least a decade, unironically, that I hope to retire in Fort Worth, Texas. Part of it is surely nostalgic: growing up in Dallas, Ft. Worth is always the fun-house mirror, showing you yourself, but accentuating the warps and waves.

But it also has a lot to do with shows like this. The art of New York in the 80s (I can't think of much art produced in the 80s outside of New York--Los Angeles if I'm really trying hard) needs a big show, and it needs to be outside of New York. It needs to be staged outside the circus itself. And the thing about Fort Worth is that it's the perfect place for such a show. Between the Kimble, the Amon Carter, and the Fort Worth Modern, Dallas's neighbor is one of the best art museum cities in the world. It's got a sensibility that goes beyond provincial, but understands itself for what it is.

I want to see this show. I want to return to the Modern, a truly beautiful building, and I want to spend more time in Fort Worth.

Houston Fine Art Fair

Once again I will not be able to go to the Houston Fine Art Fair because of schedule conflicts. But that doesn't mean that you can't go. Please consider it, and if you go please let me know what it's like.

And suddenly there's a lot of news about Stonehenge

Underground scans have been completed, and it turns out that Stonehenge is actually part of a much bigger complex. Those aliens really did a lot of work!

The wacky-est art auction

Japanese producer and designer NIGO realized that if he waited until he was dead to have an estate sale (as is the custom), he wouldn't get to see the results. So he's selling a lot of his personal stuff in an art auction at Sotheby's. And it's quite a collection of stuff.

Old(er) Art

Cave etchings made by neanderthals around 40,000 BCE are now the oldest known art works. If they are, in fact, art.

New sculpture outside the MFAH

There's a new lightning-struck tree going up outside the MFAH. It's made of cast bronze, and it came from Italy.

My favorite artist we don't cover in AP Art History

Here is a nice summary of Yves Klein, his short but brilliant career, and his very own color.

A great new T-Swift video

In a commentary on the intersections of the art industry, celebrity culture, and pop sensibilities, Pop Culture Pirate made a mashup of clips from Jay-Z's performance art piece Picasso Baby and Taylor Swift's song "22."

More than cynical or critical, the video just seems fun. My thoughts about both Swift and Jay-Z are something we can talk about in person. I'm happy to discuss either.

Thanks to Hyperallergic for spreading the video.

Art on the East End

I admit that I rarely leave my own neighborhood, and I'v almost never been east of downtown. But the Houston Arts Alliance is trying to change that with several months of Transported + Renewed. I'm excited to see how all this turns out!

Art Attack at the Whitney

This time the vandal/artist didn't affect any of the art, just a blank wall in the Jeff Koons retrospective. The assumed vandal has a history of putting his mark on gallery walls--in his own blood.

Want to hear a rap song about the Menil?

Of course you do. Yes, you do.

iTunes--The Black Guys--"The Menil Song"

Here's some context, but just listen to the song first.

Life after forgery

In this short interview piece, a famous art forger John Myatt describes what his life is like now. Mostly, he paints. The most interesting tidbit: his first commissions after getting out of jail were from the police officer who arrested him and the barristers who worked on his case. He also says there are still about 120 of his fakes out there, and he doesn't plan on identifying them.

Suave Salvador

It's supposed to be about the art and not the biography or antics of the artist blah blah blah....Please look at these photos and be reminded how stylish, handsome, and fun Salvador Dali was.

Fly Art

You've probably already seen this, but I just came across it thanks to Mattie Mills. Fly Art Productions puts hip hop lyrics over works of art. So simple, and sometimes so sublime.

"My kid could make that"

Here is what happens when parents talk about their children's behavior as if it were a work of art. Thanks to Rachel Davis for the link.


Watch some short videos of people doing things by hand. I assume it's supposed to be a testament to handcrafted, artisanal, traditional products, though I don't know what exactly it has to do with Gucci.

The videos are very quiet, and they have Japanese captions, so there's no getting caught up in the explanation. Just watch these people make things with their hands. It's relaxing, and some of them are quite beautiful.

Thanks to Colossal for the link.

How the mighty have fallen

Take a moment to read Jerry Saltz's essay on Zombie Formalism. No, not like cool, fun-to-watch zombies. The accompanying slide show is pretty damning.

Learning more about my city

I've lived in Houston a little over a decade now, but I still know very little about this city. I rarely travel far, and it's such a large city with such a rich history that I wouldn't even know where to begin.

But here's one thing I learned today: it turns out the prototypical gas station was designed by the same guy famous for exquisite River Oaks mansions.

Don't want to take your AP Art History final exam?

Neither did this guy.

I'll be giving the exam no matter how many retweets you have, because a deal is a deal.

How art fraud is convicted

Art forgery and fraud--things which have probably been around as long as art has had monetary value--have been in the news a lot. There was another episode in the bust of a forgery ring in New York, and there has been the trial of a Florida pastor convicted for selling fake Damien Hirsts.

Hyperallergic has a short interview with one of the jurors in the Hirst trial, and it's a pretty good read. Especially this sentence: "After this case I get the idea that there is a lot of fake art out there and the value of art has more to do with provenance and how it is proved rather than the piece itself."

Hey artists: your brains are different

The BBC reports on a study that shows that artists have "increased neural matter in areas relating to fine motor movements and visual imagery."

I suspect that this really means that science has confirmed that talented artists have talent, but that feels more objective and less mystical when brain scans confirm it.

Jewish manuscripts

When we look at illuminated manuscripts from Medieval Europe, they're almost always within a Christian context, even when they're books shared by Christians and Jews.

This post has some photos of a Hebrew manuscript from late medieval/early Renaissance on view at the Met in New York. It's good to have visual reminders of what ought to be obvious: there were also large Jewish communities in Europe, and they also produced
beautiful manuscripts.


I'm a fan of portraiture, self-portraiture, and discussions of identity. And I still can't figure out why we're so obsessed with talking about Selfies.

But if you're a fan, here is a place where you can literally see them all in real time. Have fun!

More about money than art

It's just about impossible to feel rich.

The 200th richest person in China just spent $36 million on a small Ming dynasty cup. The cup is undoubtedly rare and beautiful and valuable. And I won't disparage anyone for buying valuable and beautiful things, no matter what the cost.

But when $36 million porcelains becomes the context  for what rich, or even kinda rich, means, then the rest of us have nothing to aim for. The American Dream can't keep up with this kind of wealth. So there's nothing for you and me to do. Except being grateful for what we have, and enjoying the bounty of free and inexpensive art around us in Texas. And contemplating the meaning of Marfa Prada. We'll always have Marfa Prada.

In case you missed it

A lot of people may have skipped yesterday's Sunday Streets HTX because of rain (I missed it, but because of baseball. I went to a pre-party--that counts, right?), organizer Raj Mankad put out a preview last week to prepare for the event. It's a cool guide.

The next Sunday Street is May 4th, along Westheimer. There's plenty if publicity about the event, and they have a Facebook page to keep you up-to-date.

New Media

Canvas is so last century. Check out these artists' works on yoga mats.

The shape of fancy

Check out this funny, fascinating podcast on a simple shape that shows up everywhere.

"Colonized by Christians and hipster shoes"


Does the vandalism/repurposing of Prada Marfa count as an "art attack"? Not in my mind, though differentiating this attack/project from the Menil attack/project relies on some subtle distinctions.

It turns out that the vandal/artist has left a manifesto and made comments about the attack on Prada Marfa. I'm not sure it makes a lot of sense, but it does have at least one wonderful phrase that I'll be repeating a lot: "they have been colonized by Christians and hipster shoes."

What Uriel Landeros, Maximo Caminero, and 927 1977 have in common is that they're all younger, "local" artists attacking the works of older (or deader in the case of Picasso), "international" artists. Is this going to be a trend? Is this already a trend? Is there art-historical precedent for artists physically attacking others' art?

Decades of joy, some involving meat

Carolee Schneemann, an influential artist and instigator since the '60s, now has a major respective in London.

New government grants

Here's an interesting piece on a new and exciting government program to help bolster the arts in America. I wonder if they'll open it up to "bloggers" soon?

That's no slingshot

The Italian government and art establishment seem pretty upset over this American gun advertisement featuring Michelangelo's most famous sculpture and a really big gun. Italy claims this is absolutely illegal, though I'm not sure how strong the claim is.

Black Women Visual Artists

I'm skeptical of the whole Black History Month concept. I heard a persuasive speaker in high school who contended that--good-intentioned or not--Black History Month reinforces the assumption that other months are Not-Black History month and that Black History isn't History.

I'm also tired--aren't we all--of internet media insisting that numbered lists are the best and only viable format.

Still, I came across this list of "15 Black Women Visual Artists You Should Know," and I'm passing it along anyway. Because I've only heard of two of them, and that's not enough, whatever I think about the timing and formatting.

Art Attack!

A Miami artist picked up, and then dropped, an Ai Wei Wei vase. To make things interesting, please note that he did so next to a giant photograph of Ai Wei Wei...dropping a vase.

Even though the vase is valued at $1 million, Ai Wei Wei's response seemed a little ambivalent.

In more "not exactly art, but..." news

A Texas police sketch of a mugging suspect is now making the international news rounds as "The Worst Police Sketch of All Time."

I won't be the first or last to immediately think of the botched Jesus restoration.

Rice Design Alliance Lectures

I won't be able to attend any of these lectures because of schedule conflicts, but I wish I could. If you're available any of these Wednesdays, please consider it.

Galatea in the Window

Sure, store mannequins aren't Art. But since they deal with idealized bodies, gazing, and a careful balancing of the both the patrons' and audience's social needs, they aren't as far away from Art as they may initially seem.

I guess I assumed that store mannequins are pretty much the same all over the world, originating from the same Chinese factories and pushing American media ideals. I was wrong.

New Frank Lloyd Wright house in Arkansas

Of course not. Wright's been dead for decades. However, the Crystal Bridges Museum has bought a Wright house that's in danger of major damage from continuing floods, and they're moving the thing to their museum site in Arkansas.

When I saw this news I immediately thought of the Curating Project we do in class and how many students want to include large buildings as part of the exhibit. You're not the only ones, it seems.

Stainless, Shinjuku

It's like an 11-minute meditation on humanity and our shared experience. What it is, literally, is a pass through a subway station shot at very high speed and then played back very slowly. Bobby Solomon at The Fox Is Black calls it "an incredibly engrossing 11 minutes." I'll echo that and say it's a mesmerizing 22 minutes--because you'll watch it twice. It was made by Adam Magyar, and his web site includes videos from several subway stations.

This is what you're supporting when you gamble, kids.

Elaine Wynn, of the super-mega-rich casino Wynns, is apparently the person who paid the record-setting price for the Bacon triptych a few months ago. I had read that the Qatari royal family was the likely secret buyer, but I guess I read the wrong rumors.

Spreading the Virus

So, um, here I am am posting a story I just saw that I think is really interesting. The story begins by noting, in so many words, that pretty much everyone in the world but me has already seen the story. But just in case you're like me and haven't seen it yet: "San Antonio Student's Artwork Goes Viral, Sparks Worldwide Nationalistic Bickering."

Here it is on Reddit.
Here it is in the Daily Mail.
Here it is in The Atlantic.
Here it is on Boing Boing.