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Approximately 2,000 gold spirals from Boeslunde (Image courtesy Morten Petersen, Museum Vestsjælland)

In George Eliot’s novel Silas Marner, the delusional namesake character returns home to find what he thinks to be his missing hoard of gold on the kitchen table. But when he reaches out his hand to touch the coins, his fingers instead meet the shiny curls of a lost, sleeping child who has wandered in.

The story jumps to mind when looking at images of some 2,000 ancient gold spirals recently discovered in Denmark. They’re about an inch long, and some of them are as thin, Smithsonian Magazine observes, as a human hair.

The coils were unearthed in a field in Boslunde, where many other gold Bronze Age objects have been found. A couple years ago, two amateur archaeologists dug up four “oath rings” there, prompting archaeologists Flemming Kaul and Kirsten Christense — also curators at the National Museum of Denmark and Museum Vestsjælland respectively — to carry out proper excavations.

They soon found the gold spirals tangled together in a pile. Beneath them lay flakes of birch pitch that once formed part of the box that held them. Two gilded dress pins nearby allowed them to date the coils to roughly 900–700 BCE.


Laura C. Mallonee


Robert Irwin’s “Excursus: Homage to the Square3,” on view at Dia:Beacon. Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

A lot of contemporary art is agitating. Gratuitous sexual provocation and moral bullying; sensory irritation and intellectual grandiosity; gaudy spectacle and cults of personality. Roiled by such strident forms of sociopathology, today’s art and its attendant New York society can sometimes seem like a boiling caldron of bile and tears heated by a bonfire of money. In many ways, it’s not so different from the mainstream cultures of music, movies, television and politics, and it’s usually not as entertaining.

Of course, it’s not all that bad. I’m waxing hyperbolic by way of recommending a potentially soul-enhancing journey to Dia:Beacon, the museum in Beacon, N.Y., where a quasi-ecclesiastical, minimalist calm prevails and a reincarnation of a luminous late work by the California Light and Space artist Robert Irwin was recently unveiled.


Ken Johnson
New York Times


Mars from Distance of 560.000 Miles,” captured by Viking Orbiter II on June 17, 1976 (all images ©NASA)

In the early 20th century, the world watched in anticipation as Stetson-capped explorers disappeared into the Amazon jungle. By the 1960s, it was equally intrepid astronauts that commanded attention. Today, while anyone with a strong enough desire can visit the rainforest, very few will still ever enter outer space.

A collection of vintage photographs of NASA’s early missions might offer the next best thing. Currently on view at Daniel Blau in London, the images were taken from manned and unmanned aircrafts like the Apollo, the Viking, and the Voyager. They feature some of US astronautic history’s most iconic moments — Buzz Aldrin stepping on the moon, planting a flag on lunar soil — as well as close-ups of Mars, Venus, and Saturn.

Looking at them lets those of us who will never journey through the Milky Way experience its wonder vicariously. Most of all, they’re a reminder of just how much remains to be explored.


Laura C. Mallonee


The eyes have it … Hiroshi Sugimoto: 50 Glass Eyes. Courtesy of Hiroshi Sugimoto

On 23 April 1988, 14 months after the artist’s unexpected death, the sale of Andy Warhol’s personal effects began in New York. There were 10,000 items up for auction. In the six-volume catalogue that Sotheby’s published for the occasion, these lots seem to fit neatly into a connoisseur’s categories: art nouveau and art deco, drawings and prints, Americana, an entire volume devoted to jewellery and watches. The auctioneers had photographed much of this material at Warhol’s house on East 66th Street; his Native American artefacts are lavishly arrayed on the Sheraton dining table, spilling on to 14 Ruhlmann chairs. The impression is of a keen but democratic aesthete’s eye; folk art and mass-produced gewgaws caught Andy’s fancy as much as aspirational antiques. But the photographs record a canny fiction. Sotheby’s handlers had elegantly corralled an astonishing mess, the product of Warhol’s conspicuous but oddly secretive shopping habit. They had turned a morbid, chaotic hoarder into a proper collector.

The elegant distinction between pathology and taste is one of the subjects explored in Magnificent Obsessions, the Barbican’s new survey of artist-collectors present and (recent) past.


Brian Dillon
The Guardian

Michael Williams’s “Wall Dog” 2013, part of MoMA’s “The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World” exhibition. (Courtesy CANADA)

What sets so-called atemporal painting apart from painting that might be less kindly characterized as derivative or regurgitative? In her catalog essay for “The Forever Now,” a 17-artist exhibition which opens at the Museum of Modern Art on December 14, curator Laura Hoptman traces the definition of atemporality to sci-fi novelist William Gibson, for whom the term captures “a new and strange state of the world in which, courtesy of the Internet, all eras seem to exist at once.” While some might lump such a phenomena under the larger banner of postmodernism, Hoptman does not. “Unlike past periods of revivalism, such as the appropriationist eighties, this super-charged art historicism is neither critical nor ironic; it’s not even nostalgic. It is closest to a connoisseurship of boundless information, a picking and choosing of elements of the past to resolve a problem or a task at hand.”


Scott Indrisek
Blouin ArtInfo

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An example of ‘edible art’ is proof of what top chefs already know – a culinary masterpiece has to look the part as well as taste delicious. Psychologists found that a salad (left) tasted better when arranged to resemble Painting Number 201 (right) by the Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky

Forget fresh ingredients, expensive wine or quality spices, culinary masterpieces have to look the part to taste delicious.

It’s a concept that gourmet chefs have long exploited, and now scientists in Oxford have provided evidence to back up the claim.

In a recent study, psychologists found that a salad tastes better when arranged to resemble a work by the Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky.

So much so, that diners are willing to pay twice the price they would for a more rustic salad, thrown together with the same ingredients.

Franco-Columbian chef and one of the authors of the study, Charles Michel, designed the salad resembling the abstract artwork, Painting Number 201, to explore how the look of food affects how it tastes.


Ellie Zolfagharifard
Daily Mail

Design Museum reveals Designs of the Year shortlist
Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku is among the Designs of the Year nominations. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Folding helmets, smoke alarms that send you text messages and a pyramid-shaped school that floats on a lagoon in Nigeria are among the innovative solutions that make up the Design Museum’s Designs of the Year shortlist, announced on Monday.

From architecture and fashion to transport and digital design, the 76 nominations include the usual global stars – Zaha Hadid and John Pawson, David Chipperfield and Miuccia Prada – alongside smaller startups and student initiatives. Together, they provide a barometer of emerging trends and common themes, from the ubiquity of the smartphone to the growing number of independent designers and inventors turning to crowd-funding to see their ideas realised.


Oliver Wainwright
The Guardian

Frank Herfort, “Grand Park, Moscow” (2006 / 2009) (all images courtesy the artist and Kerber)

If you think Soviet architecture was strange — with its retrofuture angles and monolithic forms — you should see what came after the USSR’s collapse. German photographer Frank Herfort has spent years traveling all over Russia and the former Soviet territories, from metropolises to remote rural zones, to capture the bizarre architecture of the post-Soviet era.

Herfort’s photographs have now been published in Imperial Pomp: Post Soviet Highrise (2013, Kerber), and all the structures together look more like a speculative vision of a surreal future than reality. From 2009 to 2013 he journeyed to 20 cities to find the most ostentatious and bombastic of the odd mix of architectural forms that peaked in the 1990s and are just now receding. There are remnants of the Stalinist style with its stern classicism meeting Western modernism, and it all seems to be stretching for a more vibrant, and perhaps impossible, future. Time has collided in their designs.


Allison Meier


Visitors to New York on the occasion of the Super Bowl — and those New Yorkers who would rather not spend the afternoon and evening glued to a TV set — can supplement their visit to the Big Apple with a lesson in urbanism from Frank Lloyd Wright, whose ideas about cities, skyscrapers, and the countryside inspired MoMA’s new architecture exhibition, Frank Lloyd Wright and the City: Density vs. Dispersal.

Organized to celebrate the recent joint acquisition of Wright’s archive by MoMA and Columbia University’s Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, the show features models and drawings of various Wright skyscraper projects. Most impressive, however, is a 1934-35 scale model of Broadacre City, the community design proposal that occupied the architect from 1932 until his 1959 death. Wright hated compact cities like New York, and he wanted to build an alternate form of dispersed settlement that was neither urban nor suburban (though some scholars and architects think that Broadacre City, if built, would have resembled the suburbs). Wright envisioned an America where each family would live on one acre of land, with nearby small-scale manufacturing, community centers, and parklands — he wanted cities, not just their residential components, but also their services, transportation, and infrastructure to expand horizontally, not vertically. Broadacre City was never built, but Wright’s model still stands in opposition to the city it now calls home. Density vs. Dispersal is on view through June 1, but a comprehensive Wright retrospective dealing with the contents of his archive is in the works at MoMA for 2017.

Anna Kats
Blouin Art Info

Chapel of contention … Vandalism at Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp has ignited a row over its management. Photograph: SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP

Erupting like a strange fungal outcrop from the top of a hill in eastern France, Le Corbusier’s chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp has been a place of pilgrimage for devout architects and Catholics alike for 60 years, largely considered the finest work of the 20th-century’s most influential architect. Last week, one of its windows was smashed by unknown vandals, who broke in and threw the (almost empty) concrete collection box outside. The action caused international outcry about the protection of historic monuments – for this was not any old window, but the only pane bearing the mark of Corb himself, a small blue square showing the howling man in the moon.

“They broke into a thousand pieces the only glazing signed by Le Corbusier,” said Benoît Cornu, deputy mayor of Ronchamp. “He painted all the other glazing but on this clear panel, where he drew the moon, he had written his signature.”

Set deep into the battered rubble walls of the chapel, which extend up to 3m thick, the stained glass windows twinkle like tiny jewels beneath the heavy hull of the concrete roof. The multicoloured panels, which feature a range of the architect’s wild, primitive scrawlings, are set at the end of broad tapering apertures that puncture the south wall in a random scatter, like the windows of an advent calendar. But to one nun’s shock last Friday, there was no moon to be seen – only a jagged hole and a pile of glass shards.


Oliver Wainwright
The Guardian