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Otto Dix: Objective Painter or Accidental Prophet?

Darius Magada-Ward Few artists have captured the sheer violence, absurdity, and chaos of the phenomenon of war better than Otto Dix in Der Krieg (1924), his series of etchings visualizing his experience of World War I. This series is unique in terms of just how alien and unrecognizable both the earth and humanity become on the battleground. In his etchings, …

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How Do You Taste? How the Value of Art is Decided and Defended

Darren Jones In the crucible of contemporary art one could be forgiven for thinking that taste has gone missing; kidnapped from public access and relocated within the jurisdiction of a minority of stakeholders to control what is (and isn’t) deemed important art. The coup d’état has been so successful that one can even be discouraged from trusting the validity of one’s …

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Future Lovers: the Terrifying Union of Science and Art

Minwen Wang Scientific progress can be controversial, especially when it comes to our bodies. The genetic modification of organisms, including our future selves, is a particularly sensitive issue that tends to grab headlines. Bio-scientific development can cause public alarm because for many people it strikes at our fundamental assumptions of personhood, religion and ethics. And while we benefit from such …

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UMFA’s “Black Refractions”: A More Accurate Account of Our Shared American History

Scotti Hill On July 3, 2020, The New York Times reported that the Black Lives Matter protests in response to the May 25th death of George Floyd likely constituted the largest in United States history, garnering a half-million participants in over 500 locations at their peak. The magnitude of these events collided with an America encountering a once-in a century …

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How to Raise the Water Level in a Fish Pond

Aleksander Hudzik It was a warm night in June, 1518, in the modest town called Strasburg, which nowadays sits on the border of Germany and France. There was music and there were people dancing. A woman named Frau Troffea started to dance around sunset, other people joined her and by around midnight there was a group of 50. By the …

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Sic Transit English

Frances Oliver So – the meaningless ‘so’ now used to begin statements by anyone questioned on the BBC – I’m going to rant on again about what is happening to the English language. I’ve already written about the absurd twists and turns of politically correct pronoun gender avoidance, which produces gems like: ‘Why would a man beat their wife?’ (Maybe …

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Edward Carey: The Swallowed Man

Lynda Green The Swallowed Man is a short novel, easily read in a sitting, and if you are happy to suspend reality and appreciate beautiful writing, then you’ll enjoy it. Sprinkled with charming illustrations by the author, it is the reminiscences of Geppetto, the creator/father of Pinnochio, while he is in the belly of a gigantic fish. Edward Carey mixes …

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Helen Gorrill: Women Can’t Paint: Gender, the Glass Ceiling and Values in Contemporary Art

Mary Fletcher The regrettable title of this book, which I deplore, is taken from a remark by Georg Baselitz. At the start of the first chapter Gorrill refers to “masculinities and femininities in contemporary art” that I see as perpetuating unhelpful stereotypes. There is a continued muddle about these terms in the book, which would have been better if it …

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The Facsimile Diary of Frida Kahlo

Mary Fletcher This is as close as I can get to holding Kahlo’s actual diary. Most of it is written in Spanish in a very legible rounded script, helpfully translated at the back of the book with black and white reproductions of the pages so that you don’t get confused, despite the lack of page numbers. The diary has drawings …

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The Mole Agent

Gill Fickling Do not watch this film if you are on the verge of committing yourself, or being committed, to an old people’s home. It will make you inclined to fall on your sword instead. That being said, if you feel like a good laugh followed by a good cry, then this is the film for you. A quirky documentary …

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Peter Doig Talks to Karl Ove Knausgård About Edvard Munch

Mary Fletcher I had not thought there was a connection between the work of Doig and Munch, but it seems Peter Doig consciously gave his picture Echo Lake similarities to the background in Edvard Munch’s Ashes. There is a similar use of swishy shapes of paint and horizontal bands of composition. There’s a similar sort of intensity and memorable imagery. …

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Michael Joo: Sensory Meridian

Phillip Barcio Michael Joo’s latest solo exhibition at Chicago’s Kavi Gupta gallery is perfectly tailored to our time: exclusive and a little alienating, just like pandemic viewing restrictions. Climbing the dimly lit stairway to the second-floor exhibition space by myself, my feelings of strange solitude were amplified by the sounds of soft, incomprehensible whisperings emanating from an unseen audio installation. …

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Banksy: The Last Romantic

Susana Gómez Laín They seek him here, they seek him there Those Frenchies seek him everywhere Is he in heaven or is he in hell? That damned elusive Pimpernel Baroness Emmuska Orczy, The Scarlet Pimpernel With him/her/them (we don’t know yet), in a context of pandemia, scandal arrived at the Círculo de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Circle) in Madrid out …

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Men and Women on TV in a Zoom Meeting

Mary Fletcher I am watching Question Time, which during the Covid crisis presents us with a wall of zoomed members of the public. I am trying to draw the speakers. What strikes me is how very different men and women look. The men all wear a uniform of suit, shirt and tie if on the panel; those in the audience …

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Scouting the Blogs with Miklos Legrady

Rachel Harrison Blake Gopnik wrote on Facebook that  Rachel Harrison’s work inhabits the art world with zero friction. It ticks every box for what art is supposed to look like and be and do. I went facepalm and thought the art world seriously needs a wake-up call.  It’s just as likely that  Rachel Harrison has no idea what art is, …

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