Recent stories of note:
“Photo ban lifted on Picasso’s Guernica after 30 years”
Gareth Harris, The Art Newspaper
Room 205.10 of Madrid’s Reina Sofía museum, home to Guernica (1937), had long been a quarantined zone. For decades, its guards stood stalwart in stopping the spread of what they perceive to be an infectious disease: cameras and, more recently, phone cameras. Use of the devices had been forbidden ever since Guernica was relocated to the museum in the Eighties, though no official explanation has ever been proffered as to why. The most obvious answer has to do with conservation of the piece in the face of flash photography, but the more interesting, often unspoken, reasoning might have a more spiritual flavor: photographs of the work, some fear, are cheapening. That is, a picture of the work, especially when viewed on a small screen, obscures and minimizes the painting and in doing so diminishes the tragedy it intends to communicate. Now, however, the ban has been lifted. Apparently, people were standing in front of the painting for too long. A spokesman for the museum stated that the change will speed up “the pace of the public,” who supposedly weren’t hurrying through the room fast enough.
“Requiem for a Dumpster Full of Books”
Lance Morrow, The Wall Street Journal
Lance Morrow, meanwhile, is holding fast against the temptations of screens and sped-up media consumption. His homage in The Wall Street Journal to the printed word recognizes the convenience and utility of electronic books, but nonetheless refuses to let us forget the rewards unique to paper and ink. For one thing, physical books are immune to the vicissitudes of an electronic world out of our control—no hard copy of a book has ever been destroyed by data gone awry or been censored post-publication by overeager publishers. Of course, many a hard-copy book has fallen prey to such wicked traditions as book-burning. But even in this, Morrow finds a sacrifice to be admired: the mere fact that such destructive acts have been committed against books speaks to their value, and to the evil of those doing the burning. Morrow’s argument for physical media is a vital one, especially in a world that has become so excited by the promise of digitization that it sometimes forgets the necessity of preserving its physical roots, as Isaac Sligh pointed out elsewhere in the Journal this week.
“A Spectacular Marble Cube Rises at Ground Zero”
Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times
On Wednesday, the ribbon was cut at the entrance to the Perelman Performing Arts Center, a new house for the arts on the west side of the World Trade Center. The building is the latest effort in the process of cultural reclamation that has been taking place at the site for the last twenty-two years, and it’s a grand one at that. A giant marble cube in a sea of steel and glass, the building holds three theater spaces that can be reconfigured on the fly, meaning it should be just as conducive to opera as it is to symphonies or to lectures. This flexibility serves as a correlative to the surviving innovation and dynamism of Lower Manhattan, and the World Trade Center more specifically, making its unveiling this last week all the more meaningful.