Some stories we’ve been reading this month:
- Artists’ model Jane Morris served as muse to the Pre-Raphaelites, married one and became the undying love of another–and was a fascinating person all around.
- Zoos make money selling paintings made by animals. Are they art?
- For unknown reasons, René Magritte cut up a painting into four pieces and reused the canvas for new works. Conservators recently discovered one of the pieces–but there’s still one missing.
- Paul Klee’s response to crashing fighter planes during WWI was, uh, unique.
- One of the leading experts on Degas has changed his long-held (and combative!) stance and now thinks that a long-disputed plaster of the artist’s “Little Dancer” is indeed an earlier model of the famous sculpture.
- Not sure which of the stories behind this hyper-realistic sculpture is true, but it doesn’t matter because the piece itself is unbelievable.
- Is Edward Hopper’s gloomy painting Nighthawks optimistic? Watch the video.
- The only portrait made of Shakespeare while he was alive might be getting touch-ups, and it could change what historians think the Bard looked like.
- William Empson, best remembered for Seven Types of Ambiguity, a classic of literary criticism, also wrote a book about Buddhist sculpture, but a friend confessed to losing the manuscript in a taxi. Decades later the book has been found–and it looks quite interesting.
- When no preconceived image of flying saucers existed, how did book designers tackle UFOs and alien invasions?
- When architectural photographer Elizabeth Felicella was not working for clients, she spent her free time photographing all 210 branches of New York City’s Public Library system.
- Beautiful: Cy Twombly and poetry.
- A decorated floor uncovered in the buried ruins of an ancient synagogue in Israel may depict a legendary meeting with Alexander the Great. Even if it’s not Alexander, the mysterious mosaic itself is great.
- Archaeologists at Turkey’s neolithic site of Çatalhöyük have unearthed an intact complete female figurine.
- Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Museum installed a monumental statue of Athena Parthenos from Pergamon on special loan from the collection of the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Watch how they did it.
- Who says the old masters don’t speak to us today? A new project pairs modern news photos with old masters, using machine learning to match artwork with images coming from the 24/7 news cycle.
- Don’t bury me in a suit, bury me in a suit of mushrooms that will encourage bodily deterioration and remediate any environmental toxins in the flesh.
- The sad but fascinating story of how a failed homesteader who died a ruined man became the principal documentarian of America’s pioneer period.
- If there’s one upside to scientists’ embarrassing mishaps in the field is that they could end up being immortalized in cartoons.