Marginalia: Brainstorm,

Today’s “Marginalia” is a double feature, as we highlight two blogs worthy of any stylish reader’s attention. The first, Brainstorm: Lives of the Mind, is a blog about “ideas, culture, and the arts,” produced by The Chronicle Review and authored by a crack team of eight thinkers in fields ranging from literature to science. The entries are eclectic, thought-provoking, funny, and as the title suggests, not afraid to brew up a little intellectual controversy. We’ve especially enjoyed recent posts by Laurie Fendrich on the firestorm surrounding the now-infamous Aliza Shvarts senior art project at Yale. Fendrich, wisely choosing to leave the ethical debate to other commentators (as we will also, pure aesthetes that we are), judges the project instead as art—and by this standard, finds it to be less an outrage than a yawn:

“For those of us in the contemporary-art business, the Yale squabble isn’t all that interesting. Ms. Shvarts’ undergraduate project sounds so, well, so undergraduate. Contrary to what a lot of people may think, her project wouldn’t make it into a serious contemporary gallery and, if it did, it wouldn’t get much traction with the press or the public…Almost everyone in the art world has been there and done that, a long time ago.”

Given the nature of Shvarts’s project, this last comment might raise some eyebrows, but to prove the point, Fendrich has compiled a list of similarly “shocking” conceptual/performance art pieces that are two, three, and four decades old. (Warning: readers who are easily offended may wish to skip this link and wait for tomorrow’s post on incredibly adorable cats!)

Equally enlightening, and enlightened, on the subject of art is Franklin Einspruch of, who holds a healthy suspicion of “art that has other agendas” [i.e. beyond the aesthetic] and whose site conducts what he describes as an ongoing conversation about art with readers worldwide. Here at Abbeville, we’re such fans of his blog that we sponsored a giveaway contest for his readers, putting free copies of our new tome The Art Atlas in the hands of three lucky winners. The contest was over almost as soon as it started, but don’t worry if you missed out: non-free, but equally enticing, copies of the book are available at our main site (click that big beautiful cover image below):

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Filed under Art, Books and Publishing, Marginalia, Media

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