I’ve been spending my time looking at a lot of useful articles, books, websites, and videos. Here are some recent favorites:

The Death of the Artist, an Atlantic article by William Deresiewicz, provides a context for many of my quandries about finding “real” art. So much is commercial these days, which grates against my instinct for what art is about, but does being marketable disqualify something from being real art? Doesn’t a high price signal that a work of art is great? That’s what investors think, anyway. Deresiewicz offers a historical context for how we perceive of artists, from skilled craftspeople to spiritual geniuses to—now—creative entrepreneurs. He explains how our consumerist, networked, multi-platform world has shaped our art, which helps me understand it. But, like him, I’m still hoping for spiritual genius.

Forging an Art Market in China sets the scene for anyone who might think pricey Chinese artworks are really great art. Even I learned something new about all this: OK, so if you want to bribe a Chinese official, first give him or her a painting—anything will do, a copy of  Qi Baishi is fine—and then have him or her put it up for auction, and then go bid it sky high.  You get your art back, and your friend gets cash in hand, lots of it. Groan! Creative entrepreneurship, mentioned above, gets beyond the artist. Thanks, David Barboza and colleagues, for the great reporting.

For something more uplifting, see Docubase, which is a research project at MIT to archive the new forms of documentary storytelling that are appearing these days. Producers with a story have so many tools to work with: text, photos, video, and interactive tools can be combined in engaging new ways. Here’s one I like about a brush fire in Tasmania.

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