Beginning of the year listicles covering everything from essays to dystopias, as well as free images, gay tours of the Vatican and unionization attempts at California art schools. Plus, The Broad museum is unveiled and the response is, like, totally whatevs and, according to sundry essayists, both art and artists are dead or dying. I guess that means I'll have to pack up my taco stand and start writing about reality TV. Welcome to 2015, folks. It's the Roundup!
— A thoughtful and positive way to start 2015: this essay by Steven Pinker and Andrew Mack on why the world is not falling apart.
— As a counterbalance: Wired magazine's Year in Dystopia, covering everything from the Sony hacks to the growing plutocracy.
— Plus, Artnet comes through with 30 art writing clichés to avoid in the new year. I'm guilty of a couple of 'em. To atone, may I suggest the addition of "time-based media" to the list. Which is basically a really uninformative art world way of saying "video."
— The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., has digitized every last one of the 40,000 objects from the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the institution's museums of Asian art. The images can be found at open.asia.si.edu and include everything from this dramatic Utagawa print of a dragon to shards of clay vessels.
— Kind of related: The Times' Christopher Knight on why museum admission should be free.
— PJ Harvey is recording her next album in a publicly visible studio in London. And it will be a work of art.
— "The way of looking at art has changed. It's shifting radically, partly because of art fairs. We all used to sit in front of paintings for a long time, almost like you would sit in front a television set. You would sit and really look at it. Now people just pass by." From a terrific interview with Joan Jonas, who will represent the U.S. at the next Venice Biennale, in Interview Magazine.
— We have another one of those L.A.-is-a-burgeoning-art-center stories, this time from the Wall Street Journal. Apparently, L.A. will be a true art center once it has a globally renowned art fair. Because what any art scene really needs to achieve credibility is a trade show selling big, shiny objets and $5 Cokes.
— Sort of related: Jonathan Griffin of Frieze thinks 2014 was just OK for art in L.A. A good ego-check.
— Plus, the New York Times Magazine profile that's burning up the art world Facebooks: how the notorious art speculator Stefan Simchowitz has helped give quick rise to a generation of young artists outside the traditional gallery system. He calls it "investing." Many others call it "flipping" (which comes at terrific cost to the artist). All I know is that if the New York Times is gonna show up at your house, dude, put on some pants.
— And because art is getting deader all the time: JJ Charlesworth's "The Ego-Centric Art World is Killing Art."
— Also, culture is too human-centric, argues biologist E.O. Wilson. My colleague Charles McNulty pens a thoughtful essay on Wilson's ideas and what they might mean for the arts, especially theater.
— Speaking of great essays, Ben Davis over at Artnet has a roundup of the year's best on art and culture. I'm still working my way through the list, which has terrific stuff — including a Jason Farago piece on MoMA's expansion plans that is totally ace. (Also, very flattered to be included for my Donelle Woolford essay.)
— And because there are never too many good essays: Design writer Mimi Zeiger has a strong piece on what Ferguson means for the architecture and design of our cities.
— A tour of the Vatican's art collections — from a gay perspective.
— And Christopher Hawthorne looks at the Southland's first potential bullet train station. Which is nowhere near the bullet train. My beloved SoCal, will you ever get your transportation infrastructure right?
— Last but not least, your moment of Wittgenstein — as interpreted by Buzzfeed in 2013. Epic.