State of the Arts







August 2018
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In recent months, the term "fascism" has appeared frequently in the media. Many pundits have argued that the political tactics and rhetoric of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump echo those of fascist leaders like Benito Mussolini and Hitler. On the other hand, a smaller number of pundits have made the same claim about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Furthermore, the 2016 Olympics in Rio marked the 80th anniversary of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which expressed the fascism of Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.

In this episode, we discuss the rise of modern fascism; outline the major characteristics of fascist aesthetics; and look at a few examples of fascist aesthetics in practice, from the 1930s to the present day.

Direct download: Fascism_-_91216_6.13_PM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:20pm EDT

​​In 2011, shock waves erupted in the art world when the long-established New York gallery Knoedler & Company announced it was closing. Knoedler had been in major dealer in modern art, handling works by mid-century American masters like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Robert Motherwell. The closure of the gallery coincided with persisting rumors that a number of works the gallery had sold were highly convincing forgeries. In the past few years, details have emerged that link the gallery to a dubious dealer and Chinese immigrant who painted works resembling those of well known artists in his apartment in Queens.

In today's episode, we discuss the Knoedler case, as well as the notions of "originality," "authenticity," "copying," and "forgery." As we will see, these complex ideas become more complex--and even contradictory--when translated between the cultural contexts of the US and China, where copying now operates on an industrial scale in the notorious Dafen Oil Painting Village.

Direct download: Knoedler_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:43am EDT

In this special Memorial Day Weekend episode, we interview Harriet F. Senie, Professor of Art History and Director of the M.A. program in Art History and Art Museum Studies Program at City College of New York, and co-founder of the organization Public Art Dialogue. Our topic is her recent book Memorials to Shattered Myths: Vietnam to 9/11 (Oxford University Press, 2016). Using the case studies of the Vietnam Memorial and the 9/11 Memorial, which open and close the book, we discuss how the function of public memorials has evolved over the past few decades: whereas memorials formerly helped the public to make sense of history, now, they're more likely to prompt private experiences of grief. We'll learn how and why this transition was made, and consider its negative impact on our ability to properly "memorialize" the tragedies of our time.

Direct download: Harriet_Interview_Final_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:58pm EDT

In today's Valentine's Day-inspired episode, we delve into the history of Japanese erotica, with the help of our friend, Maggie Mustard. Maggie is a PhD Candidate in Art History at Columbia University specializing in Japanese art, and is also the inaugural Teaching Fellow at the New Museum in New York City.

(Please note that the images we discuss are of an overtly sexual nature, therefore this episode could fall into the realm of NSFW!)

Direct download: Japanese_erotica_-_31016_4.45_PM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:41pm EDT

Chances are you probably remember "Beast Jesus"--the fresco painting in a Spanish church that was lovingly "restored" by a local parishioner in 2012, and soon became the laughing-stock of the internet. In today's episode, we discuss this and three other acts of conservation and restoration of works of art and architecture. In addition to explaining what made these acts controversial, we consider why conserving and restoring works of art raises philosophical questions about how we define, understand, and value works of art.

Direct download: Conservation_-_13016_2.11_PM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:26pm EDT

It's our 20th episode, so we decided to talk about two things that are near and dear to us: cats and art. Listen as we discuss four works of art that feature cats as well recent exhibitions of cat imagery, and ultimately try to answer the question: what can cats tell us about art?

Direct download: Cats_-_112215_1.24_PM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

This past August-September, a seaside town in England hosted a very different kind of holiday attraction: a dystopian theme park by the anonymous street-artist-turned-legit-artist Banksy. Called "Dismaland," the park, erected on the site of a derelict lido, was actually a curated exhibition of works by dozens of artists, all of which expressed critical views of mainstream culture and politics. 

In this episode, we introduce you to Dismaland through a discussion of street art and Banksy's oeuvre; look closely at a few works on display; consider the ways in which Dismaland intersects with three major trends in contemporary art; and talk about the fate of Dismaland as recycled materials for a notorious refugee camp near Calais, France. 

Direct download: Dismaland_-_103115_5.36_PM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:51pm EDT

Continuing with our recent theme of New York City architectural and cultural gems, today's episode delves into one of the most vital elements of the city's infrastructure: its transportation system. Listen as we discuss the Metropolitan Transit Authority's Transit Museum (located in a decommissioned subway station), and the crown jewel of the train system, Grand Central Terminal.

Direct download: GTC__MTA_-_92815_5.24_PM.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:21am EDT

Joseph Mallord William Turner has been the subject of a number of projects recently, from the 2014 biopic Mr. Turner to the exhibition J. M. W. Turner: Painting Set Free (currently on view at the De Young Museum in San Francisco). For today's episode, we discuss Turner's depictions of the sea, a subject he represented throughout his career and which helps us understand the complexity of his art and ideas: the picturesque, sublime, engraving, etching, Immanuel Kant, Goethe’s color theory, Isaac Newton—we’ve got it all in here!

Direct download: Turner_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:26am EDT

It's that time of year (well, one of those times of year) when tourists flood our city of New York. If you're planning a visit, check out today's episode, in which we discuss some of our favorite less-traveled haunts!

Direct download: NYC_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:13am EDT