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There Never Was a Real Tulip Fever | History | Smithsonian

The Dutch learned that tulips could be grown from seeds or buds that grew on the mother bulb; a bulb that grows from seed would take 7 to 12 years before flowering, but a bulb itself could flower the very next year. Of particular interest to Clusius and other tulip traders were “broken bulbs”—tulips whose petals showed a striped, multicolor pattern rather than a single solid color. The effect was unpredictable, but the growing demand for these rare, “broken bulb” tulips led naturalists to study ways to reproduce them. (The pattern was later discovered to be the result of a mosaic virus that actually makes the bulbs sickly and less likely to reproduce.) “The high market price for tulips to which the current version of tulipmania refers were prices for particularly beautiful broken bulbs,” writes economist Peter Garber. “Since breaking was unpredictable, some have characterized tulipmania among growers as a gamble, with growers vying to produce better and more bizarre variegations and feathering.” After all the money Dutch speculators spent on the bulbs, they only produced flowers for about a week—but for tulip lovers, that week was a glorious one. “As luxury objects, tulips fit well into a culture of both abundant capital and new cosmopolitanism,” Goldgar writes. Tulips required expertise, an appreciation of beauty and the exotic, and, of course, an abundance of money.

Why do people in medieval art look bored or indifferent when being killed? (cross-post from /r/Art) : AskHistorians

I've been amused by this trait in pre-1600's european paintings all my life; people going through the most horrific injuries imaginable look as if they were bored with life anyway and their killer did them a service. It would have been easier to draw open, panicked eyes and flailing arms than just laconic, Eeyore-like pawns that die on command and without fuss.

When Pixels Collide

Each pixel you see was placed by hand. Each icon, each flag, each meme created painstakingly by millions of people who had nothing in common except an Internet connection. Somehow, someway, what happened in Reddit over those 72 hours was the birth of Art.

Fractal edges shown to be key to imagery seen in Rorschach inkblots -- ScienceDaily

"As you increase the D value, which makes for more visual complexity, the number of visual perceptions fall off," he said. "People see a lot more patterns in the simple ones." Inkblots with D values of 1.1 generate the highest numbers of perceived images, the team found. The team then put their findings to a human test, generating computerized fractal patterns with varying D values. When seen for 10 seconds by psychology undergraduate psychology students at the University of New South Wales in Australia, the same trend between D values and imagery surfaced. Fractal patterns are also found in the artwork of Jackson Pollock, whose abstract expressionist paintings captured Taylor's lifelong interest in childhood. Pollock's paintings from 1943 to 1952, Taylor has found, are composed of fractals with D values that increased from 1.1 to 1.7. That change was deliberate, Taylor said, as Pollock sought ways to reduce imagery figures seen in his earlier work.

38,000-year-old carving includes enigmatic “punctuation” pattern | Ars Technica

There are punctuations, which form a clear pattern behind and beneath the animal. There are also "short, parallel marks" in front of the aurochs' chest. And there is a deep line that cuts straight through the center of the stone and the aurochs' body, as well as a "tunnel-like depression" right in the abdomen. Indeed this line was cut so deeply that the researchers believe it eventually caused the slab to split in two. Interestingly, analysis revealed that this deep cut was carved first, then the punctuations, followed by the aurochs. So the animal's body was drawn on top of these abstract dots and lines, and some of the dots were even joined to create the aurochs' legs, hindquarters, and abdomen. "The animal figure, executed after the creation of the deep depression, was constructed so as to integrate this feature, which seems to have an important role in the overall graphic construct," the research team wrote. Further Reading First discovery of 50,000-year-old human settlements in Australian interior Early archaeologists believed these punctuations, which are found throughout the region, were a way of tracking phases of the moon.

Your Brain on Beauty: A Neurological Defense of Aestheticism | Cody Delistraty

The anxiety of living without purpose inspires so much of what we do in life: from finally writing that novel to following a religion. But a problem arises when we entirely ignore beauty for beauty’s sake. Life is short, yes, and meaning is important, also yes, but it has been proven that beauty really does give us pleasure. Aestheticism is a call back to our biological roots, and when we push aside utility and thematic meaning and simply pay attention the beauty around us, the way we experience life can paradigmatically change for the better.

Working the system

I think when people know the system too well they can only make the system. You think you’re playing the system but the system is playing you. And what they end up making has been something called “zombie formalism.” That’s empire art. It’s real easy. Everybody in art, every art history and art criticism department, every curator can understand it even before they see the show. It has what’s called “all-over composition,” which means that every part of the surface is more or less equal to every other part. It’s often restricted in color or subjected to certain processes that had quote, unquote “political purposes,” like, “I put this canvas in the Dead Sea” or “this canvas was allowed to dry in Ferguson, Missouri.”

The cult of the academy: jargon, insularity and status

I think we lost a few generations of art critics to academia. They all learned to write in a similar style, which I find very jargon-filled and impenetrable; and I also feel that their taste flattened and everybody liked the same fifty-five artists, and they would quote the same twenty writers over and over. I thought, “The art world is not this boring; how can this be?” Now, I’m seeing more and more younger writers starting to write online, making sense, speaking in ways that you can understand and, most importantly, putting out opinions. The juice of criticism is opinion. I really admire Artforum; I’ve never written for it for good reason: I’m not smart enough, but I look in the second-to-the-last paragraph and I see a phrase like “this problemetized the show.” Is that positive or negative? There is no judgment in it. Everybody is smart. So I can’t fit in that art world because I never went to school; I have no degrees; I am not schooled in the language of the empire.

Why abstract art is exciting

When we look at abstract art it requires more of our imagination. It leaves many details unspecified, and we have to supply those details. That—for people who can do it—is very pleasurable. Some people don’t like it all, but for people who can enjoy their own creativity, it’s very satisfying.

Why Abstract Art Stirs Creativity in Our Brains - Facts So Romantic - Nautilus

“Creativity is for amateurs. We go out there and we solve problems. We set tasks for ourselves and we solve them.” I think the similarities are really becoming quite obvious. Certainly in the abstract expressionists—the New York group—they all ended up doing very different things when they started doing it, and they did it step-by-step as they moved from figuration to abstraction, becoming progressively more abstract in distinctively different ways.

Art and pricing

Very low prices made participants like art less, very high prices made them like art more.

Portraits: filling in what's missing

Writing and painting, descriptive undertakings both, rise and fall on the same ground. The basic mistake of either is to orchestrate too much. If the great insight of Close’s work has been to make portraiture vivid by removing detail, forcing viewers to contribute their own perception to the process, what I have noticed as a reader and writer is that a similar principle applies. The best you can do is provide a constellation of individual points, just enough to let the reader form an opinion of her own. This can be challenging when the writer has something certain in mind to say, but it becomes all the more difficult when there is nothing certain to say at all. A written portrait of a portrait painter is recursive from the start, but when you’re trying to get a fix on the identity of an identity fixer whose own identity is coming unfixed, the whole thing goes uroboric.

The Mysterious Metamorphosis of Chuck Close - The New York Times

It seems to me now, with greater reflection, that the value of experiencing another person’s art is not merely the work itself, but the opportunity it presents to connect with the interior impulse of another. The arts occupy a vanishing space in modern life: They offer one of the last lingering places to seek out empathy for its own sake, and to the extent that an artist’s work is frustrating or difficult or awful, you could say this allows greater opportunity to try to meet it. I am not saying there is no room for discriminating taste and judgment, just that there is also, I think, this other portal through which to experience creative work and to access a different kind of beauty, which might be called communion.

On the surface of subjectivity

Looking at a painting like “Lyle,” you see minute shades of detail: a gentle furrow in the brow, a wrinkle of amusement at the corner of the eye. This impression of detail, where no actual detail can be found on the canvas, is mesmerizing and confounding. What you are seeing isn’t really there. You are no longer looking at the actual surface of the painting, but some apparition hovering above it, a numinous specter that arises in part from the engagement of your own imagination. Through the painting, Close has accessed the perceptual center of your mind, exploiting the way we process human identity: the gaps of knowledge and the unknown spaces we fill with our own presumptions, the expectations and delusions we layer upon everyone we meet.

boring cars for boring people

according to Kelley Blue Book, silver remains the color of choice for luxury vehicles. A full third of all luxury vehicles are silver; another 30 percent of them are diamond, crystal, snow, powder, cream, or some other version of white.

Archeologist Beheaded by ISIS After Refusing to Lead Them to Valuable Artifacts

Hungary grabs Munkácsy's Golgotha

In any case, the two sides couldn’t agree on a price, and Pákh announced that he is packing the painting up and selling it to a Swiss-Russian buyer who will pay him $10 million. At this point the prime minister’s office placed the painting under the protection of the Hungarian government, which means that the painting cannot leave the country. The painting has thus lost practically all its value because who would buy a painting that cannot be moved out of Hungary? According to one opinion, this move by the government is perfectly legal because “it serves the defense of national culture.” Others think differently, claiming that the law regulating the protection of art objects states that the item in question must have been stored in Hungary for at least fifty years before it can be placed under “protection,” and clearly this is not the case with Pákh’s painting.

Musicians and audience synchronizing

“The music is not a prayer to God,” Mr. Townshend says in one of many revealing passages. “It’s a prayer to the audience. It’s about you. I don’t write songs about me, I write songs about you. That’s why I’m successful. You think they’re about me, so you can live in a sense through what you think I’m going through, but actually I’m writing about you.”

Tatiana Trouvé Unwinds History in Public Art Project

when Tatiana Trouvé, a highly regarded sculptor who works in Paris, was asked by the Public Art Fund to create a work relating to the park, her instincts told her to dream big. The piece she made, “Desire Lines,” which goes on view Tuesday at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza near 60th Street and Fifth Avenue, is — in a manner of thinking — the size of the park itself. It is composed of miles of colored rope that, if unwound from the various-sized wooden spools that hold them, would stretch along every inch of the 212 paths, by Ms. Trouvé’s count, that snake through the park’s 843-acre rectangle. […] Like the Borges short story about a map so large and detailed it corresponds precisely to the territory it maps (“In the deserts of the West, still today, there are tattered ruins of that map, inhabited by animals and beggars”), Ms. Trouvé’s installation plays in the netherworld between the real and the represented. That seems only fitting because, as she said in an interview last week, she came to know the park first through studying maps and pictures and only later set foot in the thing itself.

Performance art for hire

It is possible for “immaterial” artists to make money off the performance itself, of course. In the late 1950s and early ’60s, French conceptual artist Yves Klein sold a series of “immaterial zones,” or empty spaces within Paris, in exchange for gold. His patrons would then watch as he threw half of the payment into the Seine; the transaction was completed when the purchaser burned a certificate of authenticity confirming the amount of gold transferred. Contemporary British-German artist Tino Sehgal has sold several performance pieces to museums, including MoMA and the Guggenheim. He provides no written contracts, insists that the directions for reenacting his works be delivered via word-of-mouth, and requires that collectors never photograph or film his “constructed situations.” Online auction house Paddle8 last year sold a one-time performance by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson for more than $36,000.

Marina Abramovic's odd jobs

“We milked the goats in Sardinia to get sausages and bread. … We made [sweaters] and sell them on the market,” says Abramovic. For one month, Abramovic even worked as a mail carrier in London—which didn’t end well. “First it took me so long time to deliver all the letters,” she says. “And I decide that every letter who was written with typewriter machine must be bad news or a bill, and I throw them away. And I only deliver letters written by hand and become much faster. Only beautiful letters. After four weeks working, they could not prove anything, but they asked me to give back uniform, which I did.”

Marina Abramovic Tries to Monetize Performance Art

“There is this contradiction,” says Abramovic, who has a pronounced Serbian accent. “I’m very high on every art list or whatever, but as for market value, I’m less than any mediocre, how do you call it, young art.” | Focus Yourself: Cutting Away the Distractions

Find your distractions. Learn which ones feed you, charge your energy back up. And eliminate or limit the ones that pull your spirits and motivations down. Today, you still have most of your life ahead of you. But the sooner you discover your energies and contain your passions by capturing the excess energy in your creative process, the further along the path you will be by the time you reach my age.

Happy 80th birthday nagypapa!

Is the science of networking the new art?

A Gen‑X graphic-artist friend has told me that the young designers she meets are no longer interested in putting in their 10,000 hours. […]10,000 hours is less important now than 10,000 contacts. A network, I should note, is not the same as what used to be known as a circle—[…]the network is a far more diffuse phenomenon, and the connections that it typically entails are far less robust. A few days here, a project there, a correspondence over e‑mail. A contact is not a collaborator. Coleridge, for Wordsworth, was not a contact; he was a partner, a comrade, a second self. It is hard to imagine that kind of relationship, cultivated over countless uninterrupted encounters, developing in the age of the network. What kinds of relationships will develop, and what they will give rise to, remains to be seen.

On The Road draft cover by Jack K (shades of Steinberg?)