Judging Books by Their Covers

C. Max Magee … we thought it might be fun to compare the U.S. and U.K. book cover designs of this year’s Morning News Tournament of Books contenders. Book cover design never seems to garner much discussion in the literary world, but, as readers, we are undoubtedly swayed by the little billboard that is the … Continue reading

How Does the Brain Perceive Art?

In 1995, the Metropolitan Museum of Art mounted a controversial exhibition entitled “Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt,” in which works considered to be genuine Rembrandts were displayed alongside those done by his students and admirers. (These lesser paintings are often dismissed as “the school of Rembrandt.”) The point of the exhibition was to reveal the fine line between … Continue reading


A new exhibition reminds us of Alice In Wonderland’s enduring influence on visual art. But its impact extends much further. Why do Lewis Carroll’s books still have such a hold on us? Richard Jenkyns Nyima 438 (2009) by the Swiss artist Annelies Štrba. This Alice in Wonderland-inspired painting will be on show at Tate Liverpool … Continue reading

Analog Photography Project

Jakob Schiller One of the FOCUSED camera kits ready to be shipped. (Clockwise from top left) 35mm manual body preloaded with ISO 200 film, 50mm f/1.8 manual focus lens, journal notebook for photographer notes, emergency roll of film, and strap. Photo: Chip Litherland Sometime in early November, Florida photographer Chip Litherland will load five 35mm … Continue reading

Still Waiting for Superman

Dave Eggers and Matt Damon’s American Teacher is almost as flawed as last year’s big school reform movie. Dana Goldstein What is it with documentaries offering silver bullet solutions for the woes of the American public education system? Last September, the big school reform movie was Waiting for Superman, which posited that the proliferation of … Continue reading

Classic Nude Portraits

Archive Photos Curves ahead! These revealing photographs of models, actors, musicians, and athletes were culled from Vanity Fair’s glossy archives—our “best undressed,” you might say. This fashionable season, it’s our ode to those who might look great in clothes—but look even better in the buff. By Vanity Fair Photograph by Patrick Demarchelier. Photograph by Nick … Continue reading

Fugitive director admits rape woman ‘double victim’

Roman Polanski has admitted a woman he raped when she was 13 was a “double victim”, in his first public signs of contrition made during a documentary that premiered at the Zurich Film Festival this week. Andrew Hough The 78 year-old the Oscar-winning director conceded Samantha Geimer had been left scarred by his abusive actions … Continue reading

Machine Gun Menace

Hollywood shouldn’t glorify this bible-thumping, pistol-packing vigilante. BRETT KELLER "The Lord I serve is the living Lord Jesus. And to show you he’s alive, I’m going to send you to meet him right now!" — from Another Man’s War, by Sam Childers As a blockbuster plot, it’s hard to beat: The Rev. Sam Childers was … Continue reading

Dating Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The ideological monoliths of the Cold War are gone. Can a film about a secret service traitor have any resonance for the modern audience, beyond the historical? James Elwes Leonid Brezhnev’s visit to Washington in 1973, the year before le Carré’s novel was published, began a period of improved relations between the United States and … Continue reading

The Mind’s Eye

Long preoccupied with technology, David Hockney is exploring a new artistic medium that uses high-definition cameras, screens, software, and moving images to capture the experience of seeing. Martin Gayford One of your basic contentions, I say to the British artist David Hockney, is that there is always more to be seen, everywhere, all the time. … Continue reading

Ken Loach

Meet one of Britain’s most controversial filmmakers. David Archibald Ken Loach London audiences have a rare opportunity this week – to attend the first public screening of a film that so incensed its funders they wanted it incinerated. In 1969, Save the Children commissioned Kestrel Films, established by director Ken Loach and producer Tony Garnett, … Continue reading

Brighton Rock

A new adaptation of Graham Greene’s masterpiece. Dana Stevens Sam Riley in Brighton RockThe old saw that great novels never make great movies has some pretty robust evidence on its side. But Brighton Rock, Graham Greene’s compact masterpiece of a gangland thriller, at least gives rise to consistently decent ones. The 1947 John Boulting version … Continue reading

German-Hating Frenchman Sparked Nefertiti Row

Germany and Egypt have long been at odds over the return of the famous bust of Nefertiti. Now documents found in archives show that the conflict was started by a Frenchman who had fought the Germans in World War I and considered them to be swindlers. He may have been right. Michael Sontheimer and Ulrike … Continue reading

Features Postmodernism is dead

Edward Docx A new exhibition signals the end of postmodernism. But what was it? And what comes next? I have some good news—kick back, relax, enjoy the rest of the summer, stop worrying about where your life is and isn’t heading. What news? Well, on 24th September, we can officially and definitively declare that postmodernism … Continue reading

Shot in the Dark

How Adrian Grenier Found Dad Again Michael Venables Image: HBO Home Video The film Shot in the Dark was originally released in 2002, and was released on DVD in June of this year by HBO Documentary Films. The documentary is directed by and also stars Adrian Grenier. So, “Does a father really matter?” In 2001, … Continue reading

I Stole the Mona Lisa?

The world’s most famous art heist, 100 years on. Simon Kuper The Mona LisaOn Monday morning, Aug. 21, 1911, inside the Louvre museum in Paris, a plumber named Sauvet came upon an unidentified man stuck in front of a locked door. The man—wearing a white smock, like all the Louvre’s maintenance staff—pointed out to Sauvet … Continue reading

The Cutting-Edge Physics of Jackson Pollock

Lisa Grossman Jackson Pollock, famous for his deceptively random-seeming drip paintings, took advantage of certain features of fluid dynamics years before physicists thought to study them. “His particular painting technique essentially lets physics be a player in the creative process,” said physicist Andrzej Herczynski of Boston College, coauthor of a new paper in Physics Today … Continue reading

Shoot Now, Focus Later

Christina Bonnington Ren Ng, the founder of Lytro, is passionate about light field photography and making the technology available to consumers. Photo: Christina Bonnington/Wired.com After buying his first digital camera, Ren Ng tried to snap a shot of a family friend’s vivacious 5-year-old daughter. Like many young, active children, it was incredibly difficult to focus … Continue reading

ArtRage: quality digital painting on the cheap

Dave Girard If Wacom’s ever-increasing array of consumer-oriented tablets is any indicator, it’s not just professionals who are looking to get their fingers wet with some pixel paint—and not everyone can afford Painter, Corel’s undisputed champion of natural media painting. Ambient Design’s ArtRage has built up a reputation as an inexpensive Painter alternative, and it … Continue reading

Leica’s Iconic Shooter Keeps Clicking

Leica MP · $5,000 base, $8,690 as tested Reviewed by Jon Snyder What can you say about a camera whose design has barely changed in half a century? First introduced in 1954, the M series is the German manufacturer’s flagship collection of range finders. Leica M system cameras have long been held in the absolute … Continue reading

The truth is in there

When we realize everyone might be lying, most of us just give up. For Errol Morris, that’s just the beginning. By Leon Neyfakh IT USED TO BE that Errol Morris would come into his office in Inman Square every morning knowing more or less what he and his staff were going to do that day. … Continue reading

Photographer Elliott Erwitt

on His Lifetime Achievements Elliott Erwitt has a new iPad app, a new book, a new award, and a very old cuckoo clock. The legendary photographer shares his thoughts on all of these things—plus what he considers to be his greatest and most memorable achievements—in a discussion with VF.com’s Erica Singleton. By Erica Singleton Photographs … Continue reading

The Dream Life of Penélope Cruz

Jason Gay | photographed by Mario Testino BORN IDENTITY “It is a revolutionary experience,” says Cruz of motherhood. “It transforms you completely.” Dolce & Gabbana lace cap-sleeved dress. Photographed by Mario Testino REIGN IN SPAIN Cruz is the first Spanish-born actress to be nominated for an Academy Award, the first to win, now the first … Continue reading

Pissed-Off Painters Take Revenge

Rachel Somerstein The Gold Scab (detail) Photo: Molly Eyres Sandra Three—The Killer Critic R. B. Kitaj LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art paints over Italian street artist Blu’s mural Photo: Casey Caplowe Poster of MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch Photo: LA RAW Early last December, Italian street artist Blu painted a mural for LA’s Museum of Contemporary … Continue reading

Shipping Containers As Mobile Theaters

By Angela Watercutter USA Network will show a series of eight shorts in these traveling mini theaters made from shipping containers. Used shipping containers have been transformed into brightly colored miniature movie theaters for special screenings of eight short films. The interior of one of the mini-theater shipping containers. Images courtesy USA Network The mini … Continue reading

Rosie the Riveting

Krista Smith and Mark Seliger spotlight Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, star of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. By Krista Smith• Photographs by Mark Seliger … Born in Devon, England, Huntington-Whiteley got her start in fashion at an agency while she was still in high school. After a year as an intern, spent mainly getting coffee, she was … Continue reading

Meet Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

by Sarah Mower | photographed by Bruce Weber They may be only five feet one apiece, but the Olsen twins are much bigger than you’d think. This is the year they’ve jointly jumped hurdle after hurdle toward winning credibility for The Row. First there was their impressively wearable blush-tinted spring collection, which they wrested from … Continue reading

Angelina Jolie Throughout the Years in Vogue

Angelina Jolie is no stranger to the pages of Vogue. The actress was first featured on the cover of the magazine in April 2002, and now many years (and many children) later she’s back looking more stunning than ever. See her evolution throughout the years—from brooding bad girl who snagged an Oscar to international human … Continue reading

Sendak, picturing mortality

He’s "a little crotchety with the world," but savors memories of a mural now in Phila. By Amy S. Rosenberg, Inquirer Staff Writer   A detail of the mural Maurice Sendak created for a Manhattan family. Its new home is the Rosenbach… ‘I’m not feeling great," Maurice Sendak is saying. "I’ve been rather sick, to … Continue reading

Mathematical model reveals how tattoos age

Catherine de Lange, contributor The tattoo now and in 30 years (Image: Simon Dack/The Brighton Argus) People may choose to wear a tattoo as a sign of religious commitment, to declare their love, or… well, for other reasons.  But no matter what the design, all tattoos fade and smudge over the decades, because the permanent … Continue reading

The Bainbridge vase

The story of an antique Chinese vase, found in a house clearance in Pinner and sold for £43m in a small auction room, was a suburban fairytale. Was it also too good to be true? Sam Knight … “A Superb and Very Rare yang cai Reticulated Double-Walled Vase, six-character mark in underglaze blue of Qianlong … Continue reading

Ayn Rand’s adult-onset adolescence

By Michael Gerson The movie “Atlas Shrugged,” adapted from Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel by the same name, is a triumph of cinematic irony. A work that lectures us endlessly on the moral superiority of heroic achievement is itself a model of mediocrity. In this, the film perfectly reflects both the novel and the mind behind … Continue reading

Radical Graffiti Chic

Sponsored by L.A.’s aristocracy, the Museum of Contemporary Art’s new show celebrates vandalism. Heather Mac Donald David McNew/Getty Images Some call it art: the 4th Street Bridge in Los Angeles, a city-designated monument defaced by graffiti. Drive behind the Geffen Contemporary, an art museum in downtown Los Angeles, and you will notice that it has … Continue reading

Art in the Time of War

Richard J. Evans THE LOOTING of artifacts and cultural objects in times of war and violent political upheaval continues to arouse international concern in the twenty-first century just as it did in the twentieth. The plunder of archaeological sites in Egypt during the recent revolution (after they were abruptly abandoned by teams of archaeologists who … Continue reading

From Brassaï to Bing, Stunning 20s and 30s Night Photography

Photographers have long ventured into the night, aiming to illuminate intriguing and elusive nocturnal scenes, but only a few ever mastered the midnight medium. From April to June 2011, New York’s Bruce Silverstein Gallery will show “Night”—an exhibition spotlighting innovative European photographers Brassaï, Ilse Bing, Robert Doisneau, and André Kertész, who together pioneered nighttime photography … Continue reading

Weird geometry

Art enters the hyperbolic realm Hyperbolic space is a Pringle-like alternative to flat, Euclidean geometry where the normal rules don’t apply: angles of a triangle add up to less than 180 degrees and Euclid’s parallel postulate, governing the properties of parallel lines, breaks down. That fascinates mathematical artist Vi Hart, who creates hyperbolic "tilings" from … Continue reading

Every Woody Allen Movie

By Juliet Lapidos Woody AllenLike Ian Fleming and P.G. Wodehouse, Woody Allen returns compulsively to the same creative ground. In Allen’s case, it’s ground trod by anxious, well-to-do white people, who swap partners and drop cultural references in an empty, godless universe. The extent of the similarities from one film to the next is remarkable. … Continue reading

Atlas Needs Help

By Quin Hillyer True confessions: Dagny Taggart is the only fictional character I ever fell in love with — or at least, when reading the first third of Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged some two decades ago, I was so smitten with the heroine that I wished somebody like her would show up in real … Continue reading

Bill Cunningham

by Ian Buckwalter Zeitgeist Films Snap and go: For more than 50 years, Bill Cunningham has navigated New York on his bicycle — he’s had 27 stolen — chronicling the fashion spectrum from sidewalk to catwalk. Every morning, Bill Cunningham takes his bike out of a closet down the hall from his tiny studio apartment, … Continue reading

Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House

An engaging, playful, and theatrical building. By Edwin Heathcote Guangzhou Opera House When construction began on Guangzhou Opera House in 2005, the site was surrounded by farmland. As the building rose, so did the city around it. Guangzhou, in the sprawling industrial Pearl River Delta, had outgrown its traditional centre (based around the old city … Continue reading

Plasticize Me

by Peter Manseau, March 2011 Will recent advances in human tissue preservation change the way we think about bodies, death, God… and China? Photograph via Flickr by Swamibu Questions concerning the ethical treatment of the dead have been with us at least since Sophocles, for whom a single act of leaving a corpse unburied brought … Continue reading

Cherchez La Femme Fatale

by Kevin Nance She’s in trouble, she says, and needs his help. He hesitates a second while his brain tries to work. Whatever her problem is — something about her husband working her over, the sick bastard — she can take care of herself, from the looks of her. But hello, the looks of her: … Continue reading

Parallel Universes and Corpse Brains: Source Code Takes Science on a Trip

By Hugh Hart Jake Gyllenhall ponders a time-fork in Source Code. Image courtesy Summit Entertainment In upcoming sci-fi flick Source Code, an Iraq War veteran uses “time reassignment” technology to crack open alternate realities in an effort to stop a terrorist from blowing up Chicago. While the premise sounds outlandish, it’s actually based on principals … Continue reading

The Battle for Marjah

By Joshua Foust One year ago thousands of U.S. Marines and Afghan forces staged an assault on Marjah, a small, isolated farming community in the center of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. Most coverage of the fighting came from embedded journalists writing for newspapers. HBO, however, sent a documentary film crew to capture the fighting … Continue reading

Faded Sunflowers: Why Van Gogh’s Yellows Are Turning Brown

Walking the halls of one of the world’s great art museums, it’s easy to regard familiar classic paintings as eternal and unchanging. But this is not the case. Paintings are a mix not only of color but of chemistry—and chemistry changes. In some of Vincent van Gogh’s works, the striking, sunny yellows have faded and … Continue reading

The Last Roll of Kodachrome—Frame by Frame!

A celebrated photographer makes a passage to India—and marks the end of an era. By David Friend  Photographs by Steve McCurry  Frame 11: Indian writer and actress Shenaz Treasurywala, in India, June 2010. Frame 15: A Rabari tribal elder, photographed in India, June 2010. Frame 16: A Rabari tribal elder, photographed in India, June 2010. … Continue reading

Orgasm Inc. Probes Pleasure Profiteering

By Scott Thill Indie sex-and-science documentary Orgasm Inc. deftly deflates the pharmaceutical industry’s hunt for a lucrative cure to female sexual dysfunction. Fresh from a decorated festival run, Liz Canner’s movie digs into the fake disorder, also called female sexual arousal disorder, as well as the latest attempts to turn feminine sexuality into a treatable … Continue reading

Viewing Conditions: On Jonathan Rosenbaum

Akiva Gottlieb  Not long ago, I received a package from a person I have never met. Inside I found no message—only the initials “JLG” scrawled on a DVD-R, and though I’m no die-hard Godardian, I recognized the object as a totem designed to set my small-town cinephile’s heart aflutter. Jean-Luc Godard’s newest polyglot provocation, Film … Continue reading

Everyone’s a critic now

A refusal to heed the advice of highbrow cultural critics is nothing new. But when the public can quickly share their own – different – views on Twitter, Facebook, myDigg and other social media, is criticism dead? Neal Gabler, The Observer  Boardwalk Empire received universal critical acclaim, but after opening strongly viewing figures rapidly declined. … Continue reading

Sundance 2011: Bobby Fischer Against the World and Page One

by John Lopez  Fischer. Photo courtesy of Harry Benson. As the premiere venue for documentaries, Sundance boasts a selection of primo nonfiction films that make PBS programmers weep with envy. Any diehard wine-sipping liberatti could find himself in doc heaven, theater-hopping from topic to topic: mountaintop-removal coal mining in The Last Mountain; African electioneering in … Continue reading