A survey of the prints by the greatest painter of the German Renaissance

Albrecht Dürer’s Self-Portrait at age 28. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Many details of the life of the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer have survived into the modern era. This is because the artist kept great notes, as though he himself believed that his own life was something of great import. In addition to his paintings, the artist’s production includes some 105 intaglio prints and 346 woodcuts, making him one of the most prolific graphic artists of the first century of European printmaking. …


In many ways, her work prefigures the contemporary preoccupation with the anthropocene

Lee Bontecou, “Untitled” (1961). Welded steel, canvas, black fabric, rawhide, copper wire and soot.

When I was a teenager, I saw this piece at MoMA for the first time and it took my breath away. At the time, I was doing some welding and had this idea to stretch fabric inside planes created by a metal armature. When I saw that Lee Bontecou had already done it, I knew two things. First, I knew I never had to stretch fabric inside a metal armature; Lee Bontecou had already done it better than I ever could. Second, I knew that I wanted to…


A brief introduction to Jean-Louis Baudry’s apparatus theory

Apparatus theory was an influential contribution to film studies in the 1970s. The theory combined Louis Althusser’s idea of the ideological state apparatus with a psychoanalytic approach inspired by Freud. The purpose of this post is to provide a basic introduction to this theory as expressed in the works of Jean-Louis Baudry. (It is adapted from a presentation I gave as a student in a graduate film and media seminar, and is intended to be used as a supplement to, not a replacement for, the quoted texts.)

In his classic writings on…


The cryptoart hype is designed to help people get rich doing something morally reprehensible

This collage by the digital artist Beeple sold at Christie’s for $69.3 million. Image via Christie’s.

Just a few weeks ago, few people outside the niche world of cryptocurrency trading knew what an NFT was. This changed about a month ago when celebrities like Grimes began producing their own NFTs. Then on March 11, the auction house Christie’s made headlines for selling a digital collage of 5000 images by the artist Mike Winkelmann (who uses the moniker Beeple) for $69.3 million. This staggering sum is the third highest price ever realized at auction for the sale of work by a living artist.


Trump delivers the first speech of his post-presidency from a stage that is definitely shaped like a Nazi symbol

This past weekend saw Donald Trump’s first post-presidential appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando.

Days before Trump took the stage, CPAC was already trending on Twitter. This was partly because of a weird golden statue of Trump wearing what looked like American flag swim trunks, and partly because many people had pointed out that the stage was clearly shaped like an Odal rune, an insignia used by the Nazis and more recently, as the logo of the American Nazi Party.

Before we go any further, let’s talk about the stage. As people began to tweet…


Installation view of Hilma af Klint, Painting the Unseen, Serpentine Galleries, 2016. (photo by the author)

This is a photograph of three paintings from Hilma af Klint’s series Paintings for the Temple, completed in 1915, which I took at the Serpentine Galleries in London in 2016. This show followed a major retrospective organized by the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, and the Picasso museum in Málaga. Most recently, her work traveled to the Guggenheim. This exhibition drew over 600,000 visitors, making it the most visited exhibition in the museum’s history. Pretty impressive, from an artist that very few people had heard of prior to 2013. …


Self-representation and subverting the gaze from 40,000 BCE to the present

If you have ever taken an art history class, you have probably come across a photograph of this object:

Venus of Willendorf. Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

The Venus of Willendorf, named for a village in Austria near the site where it was found, is a limestone figurine, about 4 and a half inches tall. It was probably carved between 28,000 and 25,000 BC. Since its discovery in 1908, this statue has been the subject of debate about its purpose and function.

The name ‘Venus’ is of course something of a misnomer, as this object predates the…


How two films and a sculpture frame the Black Panther’s legacy

One of the last art exhibitions I went to before the pandemic made the world stand still was Soul of a Nation: Art In the Age of Black Power 1963–1983 at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Among the most arresting objects in the exhibition was a freestanding green door with red trim which appeared to be full of bullet holes.

Dana Chandler, Jr. Fred Hampton’s Door 2 (1975). Acrylic paint on wood, 80 x 30"

This is Dana C. Chandler, Jr.’s Fred Hampton’s Door 2 (1975). It is a visual representation of the violence visited on the Black Panther leader on December…


Most Redditors won’t make money on GameStop stock, but that’s not the point.

By now, virtually everyone with an internet connection has heard about the GameStop stock rally, even if they aren’t entirely sure of all the logistics behind it. To briefly recap: over the past week or so, Redditors on the forum r/wallstreetbets encouraged one another to buy stock in the beleaguered video game retailer en masse, causing its value to skyrocket. This posed a significant problem for hedge funds that have been profiting off the short sale of GameStop stock. In a nutshell, a short sale is a…


A Glitch In the Matrix weighs the pros and cons of simulation theory

Still from Rodney Ascher’s A Glitch in the Matrix (2020)

[Mild spoilers follow.]

In 2003, a 20–year-old man who had become convinced that he was living in a The Matrix-style simulation shot and killed both of his parents. “When I pulled the trigger,” Joshua Cooke recalls, “it messed me up really bad because it wasn’t anything like I had seen on The Matrix. Real life was so much more horrific.”

A long interview with Cooke, conducted from prison where he is serving a 40 year sentence, stands at the dark heart of Rodney Ascher’s new film A…

Emily Pothast

Artist and historian. PhD student researching religion, material culture, media, and politics. Bylines at The Wire Magazine, Art in America + more.

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