Jeanne-Claude Gone

from the San Jose Mercury News

Jeanne-Claude, artist, dies at 74

Jeanne-Claude — whose collaboration with her husband, Christo, in creating massive environmental works of art, such as the 24-mile-long “Running Fence” in California in the 1970s, attracted worldwide attention for decades — has died. She was 74.

Jeanne-Claude, who, like her more famous husband, used only her first name, died Wednesday night in a New York hospital of complications from a brain aneurysm, her family said in a statement.

The husband-and-wife team had been involved in creating large-scale, temporary environmental art projects since 1961, including wrapping the Reichstag in Berlin in more than a million square feet of silvery polypropylene fabric in 1995.

In 1976, they installed “Running Fence,” which consisted of 2,050 white fabric panels extending across 241/2 miles in California’s Sonoma and Marin counties.

Returning to California in 1991, they installed 1,760 gigantic, custom-made yellow umbrellas along an 18-mile stretch of the Tejon Pass, about 60 miles north of Los Angeles. A bi-continental project known as “The Umbrellas,” it included the installation of 1,340 blue umbrellas in Ibaraki, Japan.

“The Umbrellas” had a tragic twist when heavy winds tore one of the 485-pound umbrellas from its stand and killed Lori Keevil-Mathews, a Camarillo insurance agent who was viewing the art project with her husband, Michael Mathews.

In 2005 came “The Gates,” in which more than 7,503, 16-foot-tall vinyl gates with free-flowing saffron-colored fabric panels were set up along 23 miles of walkways in New York City’s Central Park — at a self-financed cost of $21 million.

[ click to continue reading at the SJ Merc ]

Bacon’s Eye

from The Guardian UK

Demons and beefcake – the other side of Francis Bacon

Charlotte Higgins, chief arts writer

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon had his right eye sewn back in place after he was thrown through a window by lover Peter Lacy. Photograph: Jane Bown

The territories of Francis Bacon‘s soul have been explored widely; they have been the subject of a film, books and endless speculation. But the senior art historian John Richardson – who, at 85, is working on the last volume of his acclaimed biography of Picasso, and who knew Bacon from his 20s – has now laid down his views and recollections of Bacon, amounting to a reappraisal of his life and work.

Writing in the forthcoming issue of the New York Review of Books, Richardson argues that Bacon’s sado-masochistic relationships lay at the heart of his best work, but with terrible consequences for his lover George Dyer, whose fragile mental state Richardson attributes to Bacon’s endless “goading”.

Having provoked Dyer into “a state of psychic meltdown” he “would exorcise his guilt and rage and remorse in images of Dyer aimed, as he said, at the nervous system”. This “goading” resulted in Dyer’s suicide, writes Richardson.

An earlier relationship, with Peter Lacy, was violent to the extent that “he hurled Bacon through a plate glass window. His face was so damaged that his right eye had to be sewn back into place”.

Bacon’s art went rapidly downhill when sado-masochism ceased to be a part of his life, argues Richardson, who describes the “angst-free, soft-porn glow” of his later work.

Richardson, who has hitherto held back from revealing his full memories of Bacon since the artist’s death in 1992, also pours scorn on critics, such as the late David Sylvester, who attempted to defend the self-taught Bacon’s “inability to draw”. He calls the celebrated Screaming Popes series “either magnificent flukes or near-total disasters….”

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

The First Modern Woman

from DailyLit

Madame de Staël: The First Modern Woman


Madame de Staël has been made available for free through January 2010 thanks to the sponsorship of Diane von Furstenberg. Diane read the book recently and liked it so much that she wanted to share it with readers everywhere. If you’d like to get the paperback—for yourself or for a gift—click here to buy it from Amazon.

Few women, indeed few people, have had a greater hand in shaping their culture than the 18th century aristocrat Germaine de Staël. And few have done so in more spectacular fashion. For twenty years the Swiss-born Parisienne, the daughter of Jacques Necker, Louis XVI’s finance minister, held sway over French society. Her reign spanned both the final days of Louis and the Napoleonic period. A prolific writer and notorious séductrice, she enjoyed whirlwind affairs with some of the most influential men of her time. Always attracting controversy, a staunch defender of constitutional rule, she was demonized by Napoleon for her forthrightness, her powerful intellect, and her prestigious salon, a hothouse of subversive ideas and sexual intrigue. The Emperor exiled her, on and off, for the last two decades of her life. To the end she was a force to reckon with: Lord Byron was among those who attended her in her final years.

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J. Edgar Hoover Obsessed With Studs

from AP via the Fresno Bee

File shows FBI watched writer Terkel for decades

CHICAGO — An FBI file released to a New York media outlet shows the agency kept watch on the late Chicago author Studs Terkel for decades.

It also shows that Terkel once applied for a job with the FBI but was turned down.

The file was obtained by the NYCity News Service under the Freedom of Information Act and posted on its Web site over the weekend. The news service says the FBI refused to release the entire file.

Terkel was an avowed liberal who supported the civil rights movement and opposed the Vietman War. He also was blacklisted during the McCarthy era, when studios refused to hire actors, writers, directors and others suspected of having pro-communist sentiments.

[ click to continue reading at the Fresno Bee ]

Darwin Rescued From 40 Years In The Toilet

from AFP via Google News

Rare Charles Darwin book in toilet in Britain

LONDON — A first edition of Charles Darwin’s seminal “On the Origin of Species” will be sold this week after it was found in a family’s toilet in southern Britain, an auction house said Sunday.


The book, which was first printed in 1859, was bought by a family for just a few shillings in a shop about 40 years ago, Christie’s auction house said.

The family has since kept the work on a bookcase in the guest lavatory at their home in the Oxford area, it said.

The book will go under the hammer in London on Tuesday, to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the publication of the father of the theory of evolution’s famous work.

The book, about 1,250 copies of which were first printed, is expected to fetch 60,000 pounds (66,000 euros, 99,000 dollars).

He realised the book in the toilet was something special, matching the binding of the work in the picture.

[ click to read full AFP article at Google News ]

America’s Abundant Treasure

from The Guardian UK

Gang ‘killed victims to extract their fat’

Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent

Peruvian police have arrested a gang which allegedly killed scores of peasants, drained their bodies of fat and sold the liquid abroad as an anti-wrinkle cosmetic.

Three suspects have confessed to killing five people for their fat, said Colonel Jorge Mejia, chief of Peru‘s anti-kidnapping police, but the number of victims was believed to be much higher and to date back decades.

Two of the suspects were arrested at a bus station in the capital, Lima, carrying bottles of liquid fat which they claimed were worth up to £36,000 a gallon.

Police named the band the “Pishtacos” after a myth dating to pre-Columbian times of killers who slaughtered victims with machetes to extract fat. The gang allegedly operated in Huanuco, a rural province dotted with Inca temples between the jungle and Andean peaks.

Six members remained at large including the alleged leader, Hilario Cudena, who has been killing to extract fluid for more than three decades, said police.

[ click to read full article at The Guardian ]

“Getting Shaq, one of the largest people in the world, to curate a show about scale is really fun.”

from Bloomberg News

Shaq Takes Shot at Art as Curator of Show ’Size DOES Matter’

Interview by Lindsay Pollock

Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) — Shaquille O’Neal, the 7’1” all-star center with the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers, has discovered that art is no slam dunk.

Moonlighting for the first time as a curator, O’Neal is overseeing “Size DOES Matter,’’ an exhibition on the theme of scale in contemporary art coming in February to New York’s nonprofit Flag Art Foundation

The writer James Frey, a collector of art by Damien Hirst and others, and a partner in a contemporary New York gallery, is writing an essay for the exhibition catalog.

“This won’t be like another nice show at MoMA or the Met,’’ Frey said, referring to New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Getting Shaq, one of the largest people in the world, to curate a show about scale is really fun. He does a lot of things that are unconventional for a guy of his stature.’’

Miami Heat for Real

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Tree Wins – Crane Destroys House

from The Press Democrat

Crane smashes through Santa Rosa house


Efforts got underway early Tuesday to ready for the removal of a toppled crane that smashed through the top of a northwest Santa Rosa home Monday afternoon.

The problem began Monday when a crane weighing more than 100,000 pounds toppled backward and sliced a Santa Rosa home nearly in half as workers attempted to remove a 150-year-old tree.

Kyle Dales was in the front yard cutting firewood from removed sections of the tree when the crane began to topple.

“I just started running with the chain saw and screaming at my girlfriend and sister,” he said. “The shaft of the crane ended up in the living room.”

Kevin and Michelle McCarthy stood in quiet shock as they looked at their destroyed home. Tears rolled down her face. A neighbor offered Kevin McCarthy a beer, which he declined.

Earlier in the day, Michelle McCarthy had been in a car accident. The couple were in Marin County dealing with that crash when one of their neighbors called to tell them that their house had been destroyed.

[ click to read full article at The Press Democrat ]

42.5s to 1000mph

from New Scientist


Strapped into a custom built seat, Andy Green prepares for the ride of his life. The pancake-flat desert stretches out for miles ahead. The computer indicates all systems are normal. He eases off the brakes and puts his foot down on the throttle. The jet engine roars into life. In precisely 42.5 seconds he’ll be travelling 1000 mph. In a car.

“It’s almost impossible to tell the difference between going supersonic in a car and in an aircraft,” says Green. He is the only person on Earth who can say that from personal experience. Green was a fighter pilot for the UK Royal Air Force for 20 years, and he is also the fastest man on wheels. In 1997, driving a vehicle called ThrustSSC, he set the world land speed record of 763 miles per hour, becoming the first and only person to break the sound barrier in a car (761 mph under standard conditions).

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Kubert’s Gallery of Heroes

from The New York Times

A Gallery of Heroes, Up for Sale

Joe Kubert, a comic book artist since 1938, has little interest in the accumulated work of his last seven decades; his focus is on new projects, he said recently.

But comic book fans who feel differently about this celebrated illustrator will have a chance to peruse and even own some of that older work this week, when 18 covers and interior pages, published from the 1940s to 1990, are put up for sale.

Mr. Kubert, 83, has turned over a large trove of his original work to Heritage Auctions in Dallas, which will hold the first of several auctions, live and online, on Friday.

“Joe’s obviously one of the very small handful of great artists that has worked in comics over the last 50-plus years,” said Todd Hignite, a consignment director for Heritage who specializes in original comic art. Mr. Hignite searched through Mr. Kubert’s home, business office and storage space in northern New Jersey to amass the selection.

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