Friday Links: Where education and entertainment battle it out for supremacy

This week is a real mixed bag of horizon-expanding moments in art – some of which may lead to greater understanding, others that slide down the greasy rabbit hole of utter nonsense. I’ll leave you to draw those distinctions for yourself.

BathersWithCrabRenoir.jpg
Nothing says NFL Football like Renoir’s Bathers with Crab (c. 1890-1899, oil on canvas) (Source: Carnegie Museum of Art)

Super Bowl bet is set: For the second year in a row, MAN’s Tyler Green has convinced the directors of the art museums most closely aligned with this year’s Super Bowl contenders to wager a significant painting loan on the outcome of the game. The Carnegie Museum of Art has committed a Renoir to a Pittsburgh Steelers victory, while the Milwaukee Art Museum has ponied up with a Caillebotte on behalf of the Green Bay Packers. From MAM director and Green Bay native Daniel Keegan: “I’m confident that we will be enjoying the Renoir from Carnegie Museum of Art very soon. I look forward to displaying it where the public can enjoy it and be reminded of the superiority of the Green Bay Packers.” Pfft, like hell. Steelers all the way, baby.

The endurance of enduring classics: The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones comments on the brilliant news that the BBC is remastering the art history television documentary series Civilisations in high definition from its original 35mm film sources (produced in 1969, it was one of the first BBC programs to be shot in colour). I still fondly remember catching episodes of the original on public-access television during my younger art-dork years, and the idea of all those sweeping views of old European masterpieces in HD is downright giddy-inducing.

How to get them hooked while they’re young: I’ve always enjoyed Joe Fusaro’s Art21 posts on teaching contemporary art, and as an aunt to a 7-year-old who’s far too clever for anyone’s good but her own, I can really appreciate his advice for nurturing an interest in art among elementary-age children. His advice to ask searching questions of kid’s drawings instead of just wetting yourself with delight at every lousy potato print is very spot on for getting kids to think about why they make art in the first place.

And at the other end of the educational spectrum: Michelle Vaughn at Hyperallergic reports her confusion in the wake of a creepily elitist forum on art and philanthropy held in Davos concurrently but otherwise unconnected to the World Economic Forum. From the event title (“ModernARTization”?) downward, it sounds like an otherworldly meltdown. Apparently Damien Hirst is now making paintings in the same way I used to play with my glorified salad-spinner painting toy in the 80s, but the real head-scratcher comes via a minimalist animation on the virtues of private museums: ‘an average person walks into the Pinchuk museum and out pops an intelligent person, a dog walks into the museum and out pops a dog walking on two legs reading a newspaper, a “rapper” walks into the museum with a punk kid and out pops two “enlightened” young people. Huh!?! OMG.

A Victorian guide to New York hospitality: The New York Historical Society recently allowed the NYTimes a glimpse at one of the more fragile items in their archives: a ‘Gentleman’s Directory’ printed in 1870 that served as the discerning man’s guidebook to the underground brothels of New York City. The charmingly discrete (and well-thumbed) volume details 150 establishments operating during a period of puritanical values, seemingly run predominantly by women. For a guide that carefully disclaims that it is a guide to houses that gentlemen must surely avoid, ‘The Gentleman’s Directory’ is chock full of enticing details: most entertainingly, the report “of a bear being kept in the cellar but for what reason may be inferred” at Madame Buemont’s of 127 West 26th Street.

Get a massage from the medium himself (via View on Canadian Art): A new website launched in honour of the 100th birthday of Marshall McLuhan is a goldmine of snack-sized video snippets of the celebrated media theorist’s most enduring concepts preserved in their original vintage glory. McLuhan’s rare gift of edging along the divide of academia and popular culture is amazingly articulated in the compelling seriousness with which he draws the distinction between the slang uses of “hot” and “cool”. I can’t help but wistfully think he should still be alive today, if only to have a hell of a field day with Facebook and Twitter.

It’s like you copied Matisse, porned it up, and put it on the wall: Hyperallergic‘s Kyle Chayka follows up the blog’s review last week of The New Adventures of Grossmalerman, a comic book about a German painter’s misadventures in the art world, with a hilarious video short by Guy Richard Smits, the comic’s creator. I agree with Chayka’s point that a Grossmalerman sitcom would probably be a more accurate and far more entertaining way to introduce the art world to a popular television audience than Bravo’s Work of Art. Vodka and Dr. Pepper, anyone?


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