Hiding In Plain Sight

A life-size statue which has stood for 500 years in a small town in Southern Italy has been identified as the work of Renaissance master Andrea Mantegna. It had been believed that none of Mantegna’s sculptures were still in existence, but a staggering two decades of research by art experts uncovered the provenance of the statue, which was first noticed by a museum director in 1978.

China’s Architectural Revolution

As China has gradually transformed itself from a closed economy to a capitalist-Marxist hybrid, the nation’s urban culture has changed as well, as the architectural rebirth currently going on in Beijing and Shanghai demonstrates. “It is turning the country into the world’s most boisterous architectural funhouse. Not since its birth in the Bauhaus almost a century ago has the modern revolution raged as hot as it does in China today.”

London To Blend Art, Science In New Center

“An extraordinary museum collection, which includes Napoleon’s tooth brush, Nelson’s razor, and a small piece of the 18th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham, will feature in a new centre for arts and science in London… The £20m centre is also to provide a permanent home for the 600,000 volume medical history library, the largest in the world outside the national medical history library in the US.”

Don’t Forget To Make It Look Nice

Like so many other American cities, Washington, D.C. has struggled to create what its former mayor called a “living downtown” with a distinct core of urban dwellers. But a new round of downtown residential construction is offering a chance at architectural revival, with the hope that a unique urban look will attract new residents. But for every great new building that goes up, it seems that four more uninspired, boxy concrete blobs rise as well. Are the city’s architects abandoning creativity in order to insure that their buildings have the requisite exercise rooms, rooftop pools, and other amenities supposedly demanded by today’s urban residents?

But Can We Skip The Tie-Dye Thing This Time?

The comparison is already being drawn between this year’s ultra-close, ultra-partisan U.S. presidential election and the Nixon/Kennedy race in 1960. But the similarity goes deeper than mere politics: the movies of 2004 are looking strikingly like the flicks churned out in the ’60s, presenting opposing takes on issues of national import and satirizing anything that sits still long enough to become a target.

The Underrated World Of Literary Instruction

“What Canadian school will emerge as the most influential nursery of writers? The creative writing program at the University of British Columbia? They’ve been graduating young writers such as Kevin Chong, Eden Robinson and Madeleine Thien, all published by major houses in the last few years, to considerable critical acclaim. Or will it be the creative writing program at Humber College? The latter has moved into the spotlight this year — although not so much because of the success of its students as because of the success of its instructors.”

MoMA’s Modesty

As New York prepares to welcome the Museum of Modern Art back to Manhattan, one striking architectural aspect of the museum’s new home should be noted: the lack of a striking architectural aspect. “[MoMA] won’t be housed in a titanium sculpture by Frank Gehry, an explosion of Daniel Libeskind shards or even one of Will Alsop’s boxes on stilts; instead it will be in a simple but elegant building designed by relatively unknown Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi… In the case of MoMA, modesty makes sense. The New York skyline long ago became a cacophony of styles and intentions; the last thing it needs is another voice screaming to be heard.”

Can Fame And Street Cred Coexist?

The new partnership between the UK’s National Theatre and the small, scrappy Shunt Theatre is raising eyebrows within the industry, and in fact, the Shunt originally passed up a chance to perform one of its shows at the National, for fear that it would be attracting the wrong crowd. But when the head of the National offered to help the Shunt acquire its dream theater, the temptation was too great to ignore. “By acquiring this striking new space and allying itself with the National Theatre, Shunt significantly increases its profile and ability to attract new fans. But it also risks undermining its underground credibility and alienating core fans.”

Loitering With Style

The art of human sculpture is a corner of the world of mime about which few people have much knowledge. And yet, for the dedicated individuals who make their living by covering themselves in metallic paint and standing still on street corners and in subway stations for hours at a time, it’s both an art and a sport, requiring the utmost in both creativity and physical conditioning.