“Selma” and the larger truths that an artful drama can reveal....Libraries endangered in areas ruled by Islamic State....A show by an influential European artist is canceled in Mexico City....And a history of barely planned urbanism on the Vegas Strip. Plus: selfie sticks, dingbat apartments and making your own Twitter poetry. It’s all in the Roundup:
— Let’s start with Hollywood: specifically, this staggeringly wonderful essay by Mark Harris in Grantland about how those who have criticized Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” have missed the larger historical truths it gets right. “The rush to defend [Lyndon] Johnson’s reputation is, among other things, a way of not talking about King,” he writes, “and the need to sternly repudiate a movie that does not enshrine LBJ speaks volumes about who gets to do the talking and who is, even today, still viewed as an interloper.” Essential reading.
— The Islamic State has been ransacking libraries in Mosul, in northern Iraq, according to reports from the Associated Press. Presumed destroyed are early 20th-century newspapers as well as maps and books from the Ottoman Empire. (The Art Newspaper)
— Artist Andres Serrano, famous for his notorious and controversial 1987 photograph “Piss Christ,” writes a piece for Creative Time Reports on the importance of free speech in the age of Charlie Hebdo. “Freedom of expression comes at a price,” he states. “It means putting up with people, ideas and arguments you don’t like.”
— Molly Crabapple, an artist who has tackled such difficult issues in her work as labor in the Middle East and policing in Ferguson, says the FBI has been keeping tabs on her. This month, she created a series of sketches for Vanity Fair about life in territories controlled by Islamic State. (Art F City)
— The Museo Jumex in Mexico City has canceled a show by Vienna actionist Hermann Nitsch — an artist who frequently uses animal carcasses in his performances — without explanation. The Austrian ambassador to Mexico has issued a statement in support of the artist.
— Picasso’s granddaughter is planning to sell works by the artist from her inheritance. And it’s sending ripples of concern throughout the market.
— Add this to your selfie-history timeline: Selfie sticks are being banned from some New York museums.
— At any given time, a museum will only show a tiny portion of its permanent collection. The BBC has an interesting report about the masterful objects that rarely go on view, including the L.A. County Museum of Art's precious Ardabil carpet. And from our own archives, Jori Finkel wrote in 2013 about art in storage at LACMA and other museums.
— Speaking of LACMA, Catherine Wagley over at the L.A. Weekly has an interesting piece about how the museum has been actively collecting contemporary art from the Middle East — now on view in the exhibition "Islamic Art Now."
— This is super-duper geeky interesting: Art F City has a conversation between two scholars about beauty, body image and cosmetics during the Renaissance. They talk about everything from shape to body hair to why beards likely got so popular in the early 16th century.
— L.A. artist Joe Sola got a car salesman to hawk his wares at Art Los Angeles Contemporary.
— The Guardian has a whole history of artists doing stuff in boxes. Somebody please do something in a sphere, because this is getting pretty ridic.
— Business in the back, party in the front: in praise of L.A.’s humble dingbat apartments.
— KCET has a terrific history of the Atomic Cafe, the storied punk hangout that once inhabited the building at Alameda and First Street in downtown — in an area that is now being razed to make way for a regional connector for L.A.'s metro system.
— An interesting story about the history of urban planning — and complete lack thereof — on the Las Vegas Strip in the Guardian. Especially notable is the shift over the years from an automotive to pedestrian experience.
— The first-ever building designed by color-field artist Ellsworth Kelly will be built on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. The piece will be considered part of the Blanton Museum of Art’s permanent collection. Artnet has a report and lots of images of the schematics.
— London-based architect David Adjaye, who has designed the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver and the soon-to-be-completed National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., is creating a $21 million art center for Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y. Archdaily has the renderings.
— Archiving in the age of the Internet: a somewhat terrifying piece by writer Carter Maness on losing years' worth of articles every time a website goes belly-up.
— Slate has an ongoing series in which domestic American issues are covered using the same tropes and tones typically reserved for foreign reporting. The one about the measles epidemic in California is pretty spectacular.
Find me making poetry on Twitter @cmonstah.