CAA News Today

News from the Art and Academic Worlds

posted by Christopher Howard — Aug 07, 2013

Each week CAA News publishes summaries of eight articles, published around the web, that CAA members may find interesting and useful in their professional and creative lives.

The Young Wellesley Professor Who Invented Contemporary Art

When you think of the cities that helped define cutting-edge art in the twentieth century, you think of Paris, New York, maybe Berlin. In the standard histories, Boston plays a decidedly background role, with the city’s gatekeepers ensuring that the wild works by artists like Picasso, Braque, or Mondrian didn’t soil their elegant private and public collections. “Boston is very dead so far as contemporary art is concerned,” complained a young Wellesley art-history instructor, Alfred Barr Jr., writing to a friend and gallery owner in New York in 1926, well after modernism had caught fire elsewhere. (Read more in the Boston Globe.)

How to Build a Digital Humanities Took in a Week

Twelve scholars convened at the George Mason University last week to build a web application for the digital humanities as part of the “One Week | One Tool” challenge, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The participants—who included web developers, faculty members, museum professionals, undergraduate and graduate students, and a high-school librarian—spent five days brainstorming, designing, and developing their tool. (Read more in the Chronicle of Higher Education.)

Arts Majors Jump Ahead of Tech Grads in Landing Jobs

Here’s a surprise for college students: recent graduates with technology degrees are having a tougher time finding a job than their peers in the arts. The unemployment rate for recent grads with a degree in information systems is more than double that of drama and theater majors, at 14.7 percent vs. 6.4 percent, according to a recent Georgetown University study. Even for computer science majors, the jobless rate for recent grads nears 9 percent. (Read more in USA Today.)

Protecting Detroit’s Artwork Is a Job for Detroit

By now, everybody knows that the city of Detroit has finally filed for bankruptcy—and everybody in the art world knows that its museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, is in deep trouble. Here’s why: Detroit owes roughly $18 billion that it doesn’t have. The sixty-thousand-plus works of art in the permanent collection are owned by the city, not the museum (as is normally the case). According to the Detroit Free Press, the thirty-eight most important pieces have a market value of about $2.5 billion. What next? (Read more in the Wall Street Journal.)

Only the Artists Can Save the Arts Critics

How do you put a price on thought? How do you price an opinion? How do you even price the creative thought that the opinion was formed on? How do you do this in a culture—I think that’s the right word—where people are used not only to getting opinion for nothing, but expect good information for nothing as well? (Read more in the Guardian.)

Caveat Emptor: An Art Exhibit Made Entirely of Forgeries Confiscated by the FBI

Upon entering Caveat Emptor you will likely recognize the exhibition’s work with confidence. Iconic pieces made famous by art legends such as Chagall, Warhol, Gauguin, and de Kooning adorn the walls, and yet, you probably haven’t heard of a single artist showing. That’s right, Caveat Emptor, which translates to “let the buyer beware,” is composed entirely of forgeries that have been confiscated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (Read more in the Huffington Post.)

The Hole in Our Collective Memory: How Copyright Made Midcentury Books Vanish

Last year I wrote about research being done by Paul J. Heald at the University of Illinois, based on software that crawled Amazon for a random selection of books. At the time, his results were only preliminary, but they were nevertheless startling: there were as many books available from the 1910s as there were from the 2000s. The number of books from the 1850s was double the number available from the 1950s. Why? Copyright protections—which cover titles published in 1923 and after—had squashed the market for books from the mid-twentieth century, keeping those titles off shelves and out of the hands of the reading public. (Read more in the Atlantic.)

Did You Hear That? It Was Art

Nothing? Listen again. Note the sound of your computer’s fan amid distant sirens. Hear your spouse in the next room, playing the Bowie channel on Spotify while chatting on the phone with your mother-in-law. Farther off, a TV is tuned to the news and a stereo plays Bach, while a mouse skitters inside a wall. And know that every one of those sounds can now be the subject of art, just as every vision we see and imagine, from fruit in a bowl to the color of light to melting clocks, has been grist for painting and sculpture and photos. (Read more in the New York Times.)

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