Do you want a bag for that?

Remember Aaron Thompson, the Carry a Bag Man? Here’s another high street historian.

A celebration of the humble paper bagThe Guardian
Graphic designer Tim Sumner was introduced to the idea of paper bags as a cultural artefact a decade ago by his tutor at the University of Central Lancashire. “I’ve since amassed over 1,000 bags of my own from around the world.” Now he plans to showcase his collection – the largest in the world, he thinks – in a book, To Have and to Hold, which he’s funding on Kickstarter. “The bag designs document not just social history, but the rise and fall of our high street and changes in culture and fashion.”

If you think paper bags are mundane, Tim Sumner asks you to think againIt’s Nice That
It’s not news that we’ve all become rather consumption-obsessed these days; we must buy the latest and greatest of everything. Tim wants to reflect on our “relatively recent consumer past, social history and the changes in our visual culture”. As a designer, he says that he can’t help but enjoy looking through the archive: “The bags are very nostalgic to everyone, not just designers. They are a smorgasbord of typography, colour, patterns, and illustration spanning over 100 years.” The archive includes recognisable identities from places including Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, The British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, as well as lesser-known and perhaps even more rich designs like “a hand-crafted design that has been created by the local green-grocer”.

Ephemera from a buy-gone era?

Is this progress?

Another melancholic series of photographs documenting our changing environment, this time of the United Arab Emirates.

Depicted through poignant landscapes, the grim reality of consumption by Richard Allenby-PrattIGNANT
The UAE is less than half a century old; before the formation of its federation, the region had only really changed on a geological timescale—“a timescale so vast that the human mind cannot even begin to perceive it,” he explains, “and yet, in one human generation, we have altered or in some way touched, almost every square kilometer.” In the series, Allenby-Pratt depicts exactly this disruption, with otherworldly scenes that seem both futuristic and as if time was standing still. He portrays structures that should appear totally out of context, if not for human intervention: endless fields of solar panels and carparks, nuclear facilities under construction, and power lines far out into the ocean, are just some of the creations humankind applauds as progress, while ignoring the more vitally important creations of nature.

Landscape doodling

Clive Thompson had a very specific way of doodling when he was a kid, quite etch-a-sketchy. It reminded me of the patterns I found myself making at school when I should have been doing something more productive. He’s turned his into a web app, so we can all take our lines for a meander round the screen.

A machine for helping you doodleBetter Humans
Doodling helps cognition — so I built an app based on the strange way I doodled back in elementary school.

But why limit ourselves to just a computer monitor? Let’s take our lines for a wander around the whole world.

Land lines: Start with a line, let the planet complete the pictureChrome Experiments
Satellite images provide a wealth of visual data from which we can visualize in interesting ways. Land Lines is an experiment that lets you explore Google Earth satellite imagery through gesture. “Draw” to find satellite images that match your every line; “Drag” to create an infinite line of connected rivers, highways and coastlines.

What makes a classic?

Are all these articles I’m sharing about covers of books, rather than the books themselves, making me look a little shallow? So it goes.

How Penguin’s Modern Classics dared us to judge a book by its coverThe Guardian
“From the beginning, built into the DNA of Penguin, has been this idea that the books need to be beautifully designed,” [says Henry Eliot, author of The Penguin Modern Classics Book]. “If anything has characterised the Penguin design ethos, it’s a kind of elegant simplicity – there’s something deceptively simple about a Penguin cover. It takes a huge amount of work to put them together.” […]

More unsettling is the work of Hungarian-born French cartoonist André Francois. Eliot singles out his cover of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, “where each eye of the face is made up of a mouth with another set of eyes. It’s just such a scary, striking image. It reminds me of Escher or one of Borges’s short stories – there’s something queasy and vertiginous about it.”

A tale of two (or 1,001?) Warhols

Imagine finding millions of dollars in your garage.

Rock Legend Alice Cooper is selling the Warhol he forgot he owned—then found in his garageThe Art Newspaper
Cooper rediscovered the silkscreen—which had been given to him by his girlfriend, Cindy Lang, “during some crazy years”—a few years ago, rolled up in a tube in his garage. “One day I was talking to [the actor] Dennis Hopper when he was still alive and he said he was selling a couple of his Warhols and I remembered mine and said ‘I think I have still a Warhol somewhere. So I went digging around looking for it.”

Here’s a slightly different approach to selling art, reminiscent of how Banksy would sometimes troll the art market.

Hundreds of Andy Warhol fakes, and one original drawing worth $20k, sold for $250 eachThe Art Newspaper
The original Warhol was scanned and 999 copies were redrawn by a robotic arm. According to a video on the collective’s website, each copy then underwent a degradation process before being authenticated as Possibly Real Copy Of ‘Fairies’ by Andy Warhol by MSCHF, then shuffled together and sold for $250 each. The drawing was supposedly purchased in 2016 for $8,125.

Faking it

Handwriting can be bold and mad, or beautifully meaningless, but always personal and genuine, right? Designer Jon Hicks wanted to convert his dad’s “distinctive architect’s handwriting” into its own typeface.

Bryan FontHicks
There were several stylistic choices my dad made in his handwriting that were vital to reproduce in the font. For example, the shape of the lowercase T altered depending on whether it was written cursively or on its own.

It’s very cool, though the motivation behind it could be seen as a little … morbid?

I’ve had a focus for getting this font ready, as I wanted to use it on the Order of Service for his funeral.

That reminded me a little of Bobby McIlvaine’s diary and the desire to hold on to something handwritten by a lost loved one. Except that this Order of Service has been kind of faked — you don’t write your own, surely?

Anyway, here’s another.

Creating a handwritten font for Culture AmpUX Collective
If you think about your own handwriting, there are always letters that you customise and (whether consciously or subconsciously) have become distinctly yours. I remember that era in school where many of my friends customised their handwriting with little love heart or open circle dots on their i’s ….ah simpler times. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about little quirks that come from the way you hold your pen badly (as I am notorious for) or because you the way you learnt to construct a letter was backwards. Those are what moves handwriting from feeling like anybody’s to yours. That’s what this typeface needed.

Ubiquitous book design

Noticed something blobby these days? (No, not that one.)

Behold, the book blobPRINT Magazine
This design trend, well into its third or fourth year in the major publishing houses, has attracted plenty of nicknames and attendant discourse online—culture critic Jeva Lange calls it “blobs of suggestive colors,” while writer Alana Pockros calls it the “unicorn frappuccino cover,” and New Yorker writer Kyle Chayka once referred to it on Twitter as “the Zombie Formalism of book covers.”

As the article goes on to say, spotting such trends in book cover design is far from breaking news.

Why do so many book covers look the same? Blame Getty ImagesEye on Design
This summer, Morrison, who goes by Caustic Cover Critic at his @Unwise_Trousers Twitter account, posted a collage of 20 Fog Men on 20 book covers. They comprised but one subset of a folder on his computer, titled, “One Image, Many Covers.” Over a few mid-June days, he emptied that folder all over Twitter, drawing the attention of authors, designers, and readers alike. Among the members of the One Image Many Covers All-Star Team: Some askew knees (three covers); a 1933 George Hoyningen-Huene photograph of model Toto Koopman in evening wear (eight covers); a woman expressing despair on the prairie (10 covers); a spectral, Victorian-ish lass toting an empty birdcage (10 covers); a top-hatted man lurking in the middle distance alongside a wrought iron fence (nine covers); a naked woman asleep on gravel (11).

That was from 2019, this next article is from 2015.

Why do so many of this year’s book covers have the same design style?Slate
But lately, another cover design trend has been popping up on this summer’s crop of beach reads: the flat woman. Inspired by the “flat design” that’s become standard on the Web, these covers take on a minimalist style characterized by bright colors, simple layouts, and lots of white space. Several different designers and publishers have used this approach on hardcovers and paperbacks alike, especially those aiming for the upmarket-but-still-commercial-fiction-for-ladies sweet spot.

And this one’s from 2008.

Chick lit cover girls, without headsGawker
On one hand, we can understand obscuring the faces—it’s less specific and makes the female protagonist easier to project oneself onto. (It’s probably been focus-grouped to death.) On the other hand—they look weird when put all together in a gallery, don’t they?

Recognising the female gaze

News of a fascinating exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The New Woman Behind the CameraThe Metropolitan Museum of Art
Featuring more than 120 photographers from over 20 countries, this groundbreaking exhibition explores the work of the diverse “new” women who embraced photography as a mode of professional and artistic expression from the 1920s through the 1950s. During this tumultuous period shaped by two world wars, women stood at the forefront of experimentation with the camera and produced invaluable visual testimony that reflects both their personal experiences and the extraordinary social and political transformations of the era.

Neglected 20th-century women photographers begin to get their dueHyperallergic
It is a breath of fresh air to see some of the show’s more familiar names — Ilse Bing, Germaine Krull, Margaret Bourke-White — finally get their due, as they are too often relegated to the corners of exhibitions to say, in effect, “Oh, and there were women too!” Bing, in particular, is a star of the show, as her “Self-Portrait with Leica” (1931) asserts an unwavering female gaze. Like Annemarie Heinrich and Florence Henri, whose work also features in the exhibition, Bing uses mirrors to toy with photography’s flattening of three-dimensional space, obscuring the distinction between reality and reflection, subject and object. When we view beautiful women in pictures, they do not typically look back at us, judging our gazes; Bing’s camera thus becomes a sort of weapon, a radical self-defense.

I wonder if Masha Ivashintsova or Audrey Tautou make an appearance.

Is ‘to Andersonize’ a new French verb?

Let’s stay in France with these articles about Wes Anderson’s new film, The French Dispatch, based loosely on The New Yorker’s writers and editors. Whilst it’s fascinating to read about the real life editors and reporters that inspired the film, I’m more interested in its aesthetics.

The New Yorker writers and editors who inspired “The French Dispatch”The New Yorker
According to David Brendel, who worked closely with Anderson on “An Editor’s Burial,” an anthology of New Yorker articles and other writing that inspired the film, the filmmaker discussed the significance of the movie’s vibrant visual language during post-production. “This is a world where all of the eccentricities are preserved, and it’s as if the magazine’s offices and culture back then were as colorful as its covers,” Brendel said.

When Wes Anderson comes to town, buildings get symmetricalThe New York Times
The top floors of the building, which include a sign so wordy (The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun) that it continues across the upper-floor windows, were actually designed as a miniature. That miniature was digitally merged with the real building to give the top of it a more stylized look. The townscape of buildings in the background to the left is also a digitally added miniature. But on the ground level, the fronts were constructed for the film.

I noticed that this photo of the original building is credited to Accidentally Wes Anderson, the website that highlights similarly interesting and idiosyncratic places from across the globe. It was nice to see some local architecture featured there, amongst all the others.

Accidentally Wes Anderson: Instagram finds stylised symmetry in real citiesThe Guardian
He says his account, @AccidentallyWesAnderson, has found favour with “an engaged group of explorers with a keen eye”, who send him thousands of submissions every week. The community he has built around Anderson’s aesthetic was recognised last month, when Koval was able to exclusively share the artwork for Anderson’s upcoming film, Isle of Dogs: “not accidental, but very much intentional Wes Anderson”.

That’s all been gathered up in book form, now.

‘Accidentally Wes Anderson’, a book of real locations that look like they’re made specifically for his filmsLaughing Squid
Wally Koval, the man behind the popular Accidentally Wes Anderson Instagram account that features real-life locations that look like they’re made in the distinct style of Wes Anderson specifically for his films, has put their photographic collection into a hardcover book with a sewn binding. The book showcases 200 different locations over 368 pages and features a foreword by Anderson himself.

But back to the movie, or rather the music video of the movie (with Jarvis Cocker!).

Watch Wes Anderson’s animated music video for The French Dispatch’s ‘Aline’Dazed
Wes Anderson has directed a new, animated music video for Jarvis Cocker’s rendition of the 1965 Christophe track “Aline”, performed as the fictional pop star Tip Top. The song is one of several French pop covers to feature on Cocker’s musical counterpart to Anderson’s The French Dispatch. Titled Chansons d’Ennui, the record will also include versions of tracks by Serge Gainsbourg, Brigitte Bardot, Marie LaFôret, Jacques Dutronc, and more.

I note its style is very similar to the design of the initial movie poster, though they seem to have gone in a very different direction for this new set of posters.

12 new posters for The French Dispatch feature each of its characters within the wonderful world of print journalismIt’s Nice That
The New Yorker is known for its beautiful covers. Each month, the publication delivers a new painted or illustrated cover for its readers, so it was important for the creative team behind the posters to emulate the covers and making sure the fonts stand out on the poster design. The result is clean and punchy posters which facilitate design elements to shine through, thus allowing for a clear and consistent design identity to be born of the cinematic world.

Looks like we’re heading off to Spain for the next one.

Wes Anderson is shooting a new film in Spain this summerDazed
Sets for Anderson’s as-yet-untitled project can be seen on the outskirts of the town in south east Madrid, says the Spanish newspaper, ready for shooting in July, August, and September. These sets reportedly include a mock train station and landscapes typical of a classic Western (though the film isn’t said to be of that genre).

That’s a wrap

Isn’t it great to see Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s last wish become such a majestic reality.

Work begins on wrapping Arc de Triomphe for Christo artwork – The Guardian
Shortly after the sun rose over central Paris, the first of the orange-clad rope technicians hopped over the top of the Arc de Triomphe and began to abseil down the landmark unrolling a swathe of silvery blue fabric that shimmered in the early light. […]

The monumental feat of wrapping the Arc de Triomphe in 25,000 sq metres of material and posthumously fulfilling a 60-year dream for the artist Christo, had begun.

Here’s why the Arc De Triomphe was just wrapped in fabricNPR
The project was not as simple as simply closing a large set of drapes.

Paris’ iconic Arc de Triomphe gets wrapped in shimmering fabricMy Modern Met
This temporary installation officially opened on September 18, and the monument will remain wrapped for 16 days. In order for pedestrians to interact with the fabric, the Place Charles de Gaulle intersection will temporarily be turned into a car-free area.

Live stream & timelineChristo and Jeanne-Claude
“It will be like a living object that will move in the wind and reflect the light. With its moving folds, the monument’s surface will become sensual. People will want to touch the Arc de Triomphe.” (Christo)

You can see it for yourself, for a while at least.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped – Live ViewChristo and Jeanne-Claude: YouTube
L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, a temporary artwork for Paris, will be on view for 16 days from Saturday, September 18 to Sunday, October 3, 2021.

There will be plenty left behind, though, when this is all wrapped up and put away.

Christo’s ‘L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped’ — A legendary installation 60 years in the makingDesignboom
As with all of Christo’s projects, ‘L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped’ will be entirely funded by the artist through the sale of his preparatory studies, drawings and collages of the project as well as scale models, works from the 1950s and 1960s and original lithographs on other subjects. It will receive no public or private funds.

During the presentation, Sotheby’s Paris will show ‘the final Christo’, an exhibition of 25 original works, including imagery, juxtaposing maps, architectural plans, photographs and engineering drawings in pastel and paint, drawn in preparation for the wrapping. Each work will be available for private sale, with proceeds to benefit both the upcoming project, and the Christo & Jeanne-Claude Foundation, established to safeguard the artists’ legacy for future generations.

As Christo’s swan song L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped becomes a reality, this book details its incredible designIt’s Nice That
60 years after their meeting, and after the passing of both Christo and Jeanne-Claude (in 2020 and 2009 respectively), the historic Parisian landmark is currently being wrapped in 25,000 square meters of recyclable silvery blue polypropylene fabric and 3,000 metres of recyclable red polypropylene rope, as per the artists’ request. Their posthumous installation is documented in a new softcover book published by Taschen gathering photography, drawings, and a history of the project’s making.

Water music

After its test launch in August, Livio De Marchi’s floating violin headed off down the canals of Venice, like something from a Bosch Parade.

A giant violin floats down Venice’s Grand CanalThe New York Times
The craft, called “Noah’s Violin,” set sail accompanied by an escort of gondolas, and in no time a small flotilla of motorboats, water taxis and traditional flat-bottomed Venetian sandoli joined the violin as it glided from city hall, near the Rialto Bridge, to the ancient Customs House across from Piazza San Marco, about an hour’s ride. […]

It was mostly smooth sailing, though De Marchi mumbled anxiously whenever the prow (the neck of the violin) veered too sharply to one side or other. But even though the musicians played standing up (barefoot for a better grip), they scarcely missed a note. At one point the score for the viola flew off the music stand and into the water, but it was quickly recovered.

As is often the case in Italy, the real hitches along with way were bureaucratic. “We were told we needed a vehicle registration plate, but officials didn’t know how to classify it,” said Mario Bullo, a carpenter in the consortium. At first, they were issued the same plates given to rafts. “But the traffic police objected, saying that’s not a raft, it’s a violin,” he said with a shrug.

Il violino di Noè – Bach BWV 1043, adagioAngelica Faccani: YouTube
A fragment from Bach’s two violins concerto adagio played in Venice at the inauguration of Livio de Marchi’s ‘Noah’s Violin’.

They were playing Vivaldi, a Venice native, but perhaps Handel would have been appropriate too?

Getting stuck and unstuck

Do you ever get stuck with your blog? I certainly do, as these gaps between posts can testify. Here, Tim Davies shares his obstacles and succinctly reminds us why he — and many of the rest of us — sticks with it.

Overcoming posting-paralysis?Tim’s Blog
The caption of David Eaves’ blog comes to mind: “if writing is a muscle, this is my gym”. And linked: writing is a tool of thought. So, if I want to think properly about the things I’m reading and engaging with, I need to be writing about them. And writing a blog post, or constructing a tweet thread, can be a very effective way to push that writing (and thinking) beyond rough bullet points, to more complete thoughts.

And for inspiration, check out these visualisations of creative processes.

ProcessMelike Turgut
No matter how much we all try to ground our ideas in simplicity, the process of solving a creative problem is often chaotic. With this project, I try to make sense of the chaos by trying to pin-point the stages of my creative process. I use time as my constant [represented as a straight red line] and map my process around it.

Art, close up

This reminded me of Tezi Gabunia’s tiny art galleries.

Honey, we shrunk the art! The return of the micro galleryElephant
Simon Martin believes it’s the little things that count. As the coronavirus pandemic forced museums the world over to temporarily close, the director of Pallant House Gallery quietly reached out to a cohort of British contemporary artists with a simple yet challenging proposition: to create a small-scale artwork measuring no more than 15 sq cm.

More than 30 creative luminaries have contributed original works to the 2021 Model Art Gallery, ranging from a pair of terracotta vessels by studio potter Magdalene Odundo and a painting by Sean Scully, to a Julian Opie sculpture and a miniature print from photographer Khadija Saye, the only work from her Crowned series not destroyed in the Grenfell Tower fire which took her life.

It’s not the first time the Chichester institution has scaled down: the earliest model gallery in Pallant House Gallery’s collection, The Thirty Four Gallery, debuted in 1934 after art dealer Sydney Burney invited his contemporaries (including Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Vanessa Bell) to create miniature artworks to fill a dollhouse for a charitable cause. Lost for decades, some of the works were later rediscovered in a suitcase by Burney’s grandson. The model was recreated by Pallant House Gallery in 1997 based on photographs of the original designed by the architect Marshall Sisson.

A persistent photographer

An interview with Ian Treherne, a photographer with a certain sense of urgency.

“I’ve managed to break a few boundaries along the way”: Meet the blind photographer who captured this year’s ParalympiansIt’s Nice That
Ian says that he enjoys making people question how he can be both blind and a photographer, he likes “hurting their brains. I’m just super happy that I can inspire other people to pick up the camera and tell themselves, ‘I’m allowed to do this,’ because I know people feel like they’re not allowed to do it.” Paralympians, in his eyes, are superhuman: “bloody brilliant”. They’re showing us, he explains, that with a certain level of commitment, practice and dedication, you can really achieve what it is that you want to do.

“The box that I’m being put in is only based on seven per cent of people in the UK. There are people that are totally blind, in total darkness. That’s the universal idea of what a blind person is, but that’s only seven per cent of us, so it’s a really small number. There’s another 93 per cent of people that have been questioned as to why they’re holding a white cane whilst looking at their phone.”

This profile of him from a few years ago gives us a sense of what he’s up against.

How a blind photographer sees the worldBBC News
Completely self-taught, Treherne is influenced by photographers David Bailey and John French – and also by his blindness. With their dark peripheries, his black and white portraits “mimic” his eye condition. “I’m not going to lie, it is extremely difficult for me,” he says. “It is insanely hard working with this tiny window of sight. There are shoots I can’t do but I don’t know any other way and I just utilise what I’ve got left. I’ve never had an assistant, I have done it the hard way.”

Treherne’s window of vision is demonstrated in this representation of his eyesight

Pretty inspiring stuff.

Restored #2

Following on from yesterday’s post on successful and unsuccessful restoration projects, here are a few more. Let’s start with this example of when a more cartoony, less realistic painting was deliberate rather than the result of a botched job.

Ghent altarpiece restorations reveal the alarmingly humanoid face of the famous mystic lambSmithsonian Magazine
To be fair, the lamb—which features prominently in a panel appropriately titled Adoration of the Mystic Lamb—is meant to represent Christ himself. But perched atop its fluffy woolly-white body, the penetrating, close-set eyes, full pink lips and flared nostrils of the original lamb are, at a minimum, eye-catching, if not alarmingly anthropomorphic. Its “cartoonish” appearance is a marked departure from the serene, naturalistic style characterizing the rest of the scene surrounding it, as well as the other panels, Hélène Dubois, the head of the Royal Institute’s restoration project, tells Hannah McGivern at the Art Newspaper.

For that reason, during the century or so that the painting hung in its full, unadulterated glory, onlookers gazing upon the lamb probably got a more “intense interaction” than they bargained for, Dubois suggests. Perhaps the anomalous nature of this riveting stare was part of the motivation behind a spate of modifications to the painting in 1550, when a second set of artists swapped the lamb’s soul-penetrating gaze for a more “impassive and … neutral” expression, restorers explained in a statement, as reported by Flanders Today’s Lisa Bradshaw in 2018.

As we read yesterday with the Vermeer, these restoration projects can take years…

The restoration of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch begins: Watch the painstaking process on-site and onlineOpen Culture
“It is like a military operation in the planning,” said Dibbets, and it has required the utmost precision and expert teams of restorers, data experts, art historians, and the professionals who moved the enormous painting into the glass case it will occupy during this intense period. The crew of restorers will work from digital images taken with a macro X-ray fluorescence scanner, a technique, says Dibbets, that allowed them to “make a full body scan” and “discover which pigments [Rembrandt] used.”

…but here’s an approach I wasn’t expecting with this painting.

AI helps return Rembrandt’s The Night Watch to original sizeThe Guardian
In 1715, three-quarters of a century after it was painted, the canvas was trimmed – 60cm (2ft) cut from the left side of the painting, 22cm (9ins) from the top, 12cm from the bottom and 7cm from the right – so that the masterpiece might fit between two doors at Amsterdam’s city hall. But using high-resolution photography of what is left of the original, computer learning of Rembrandt’s techniques and a contemporary copy of the full painting by Gerrit Lundens hanging in London’s National Gallery, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam was able to reproduce the work in all its glory.

I’m a big fan of Antony Gormley’s spooky and solemn sculptures on Crosby beach near Liverpool, so I was happy to read that they’re being looked after.

Antony Gormley asks for ‘vandalised’ beach sculptures to be cleanedThe Guardian
Antony Gormley has asked for paint to be removed from his iron men sculptures on Crosby beach after they were embellished with colourful outfits by an unknown artist. At least nine of the famous group of statues, which face out to sea and have been standing naked on the Merseyside beach for a decade, have been brightly decorated in the past week.

Antony Gormley hopes Crosby statues last 1,000 years after resetThe Guardian
One hundred cast-iron statues modelled on Gormley were installed in 2005 at Crosby beach, spread across 3km (2 miles) of the foreshore and stretching almost 1km out to sea. The installation, Another Place, was only supposed to last 16 months in Crosby, and the men were almost sent packing early amid safety complaints including cases of the coastguard being called out to “rescue” them. Sixteen years on, the artwork has become a tourist attraction for the Sefton borough of Merseyside and a beloved local institution. But unnoticed by all but the keenest eye, 10 of the men have been missing in action for the past few years after their concrete support piles disintegrated, plunging them face-first into the mud.

Of course, restoration isn’t just limited to paintings and sculptures. There are people who also want to restore … letters of the alphabet?

Petition · Restore the ampersand as the 27th letter of the alphabetChange.org
The ampersand dates all the way back to 45 AD and Johannes Gutenberg even included it on his first printing press in 1440. During the 19th century, American schoolchildren were taught to end their ABC’s with “X, Y, Z, and per se and” because the ampersand was indeed the 27th letter. But then it mysteriously and inexplicably disappeared from the alphabet. […]

This isn’t just for us. Think of all the uses of the ampersand out there, and all the people and organizations that could benefit from allowing the ampersand back into our alphabet. We’re not asking for much. And to be completely honest, we’re not exactly sure who calls the shots on these sorts of things, but having Merriam-Webster on our side seems like a good start.

For law firms, the ampersand is a character worth savingABA Journal
Paul Hastings, Norton Rose Fulbright, Hogan Lovells, Proskauer Rose, Baker Botts: the list of new BigLaw titles built on the corpses of ampersands is almost endless. All these firms discarded their ampersands as if they were ashamed of them. The BigLaw ampersand now stands on the precipice of extinction. Accordingly, it is up to BigLaw partners and associates to see to its survival. You’re thinking, “But what can I do? I’m only one lawyer among tens of thousands?” You have answered your own question: You are one of tens of thousands. Your voice, added to the voices of your brother and sister lawyers across the land, can be a mighty chorus demanding the restoration of the ampersand to its rightful place in American law.

Restored

It’s nice to see the completion of that Vermeer restoration I mentioned a while ago.

First full image of ‘new’ Vermeer with uncovered Cupid released by Dresden museumThe Art Newspaper
Art lovers get ready to be struck by Cupid’s arrow, as the first image of the completed restoration of Johannes Vermeer’s Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window (around 1657-59) has been released today by Dresden’s Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, fully revealing a hidden image of Cupid. The change to the composition in one of Vermeer’s most famous paintings is so great that the German museum is dubbing it a “new” Vermeer in publicity materials.

A restored Vermeer painting reveals a hidden Cupid artwork hanging in the backgroundColossal
The new restoration—dive into the lengthy process in the video below—is just one of the mysteries that’s surrounded “Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window” since its creation between 1657–59. Originally attributed to Rembrandt and later to Pieter de Hooch, the artwork wasn’t properly credited until 1880. The piece is evocative of another one of Vermeer’s works, “Lady Standing at a Virginal,” though, which similarly features a painting within a painting by showing a solitary figure standing near a window with Cupid on the wall behind her.

There’s something very hypnotic and life-affirming about watching such intricate restorations. Here are a few more.

The Museum of Modern Art: Microscopically reweaving a 1907 paintingYouTube
To ready Paula Modersohn-Becker’s “Self Portrait” (1907) for MoMA’s reopening in October, conservator Diana Hartman tackles the question of how to repair holes in the painting’s canvas. She figures out that a curved needle typically used in eye surgery might allow her to avoid removing the work from its original stretcher. And her inventiveness doesn’t end there: Using an adhesive made from a sturgeon bladder, she secures linen thread to the needle to darn the pieces back together with the help of a microscope.

Tate: Restoring RothkoYouTube
Mark Rothko’s ‘Black on Maroon’ 1958 goes back on public view at Tate Modern on 13 May 2014, following 18 months of intensive work by the Conservation team and colleagues across Tate. The painting, one of the iconic Seagram murals which Rothko donated to Tate in 1970, was vandalised with graffiti ink in October 2012. It has since been the subject of detailed research and restoration by the core treatment team of Rachel Barker, Bronwyn Ormsby and Patricia Smithen.

Baumgartner Restoration: Ex Multis Ad Unum – Restoring a split painting, narratedYouTube
One of the challenges that the conservator often faces is before being able to embark upon the work of restoring the painting the old conservation attempts and materials must first be addressed. That is, before the “do” comes a lot of “undo.” Unknown materials and motives can be frustrating and difficult to address yet with experience and resources these can be overcome.

There seems to be no shortage of examples of restoration going wrong — though I don’t know why it’s Spain so often.

Worshipping at the altar of Beast JesusHyperallergic
Instead of trying to restore the restoration, the people behind the Santuario de Misericordia decided to make Giménez’s bizarre creation work in their favor — something they may have learned from the wise people of Pisa, who never tried to straighten their famous tower.

Botched Spanish sculpture restoration evokes the infamy of Beast JesusHyperallergic
The wooden statue is housed in the town’s St. Michael’s Church. Before-and-after photo comparisons show a badly damaged but tonally subtle and complex sculpture that has been updated with a cartoonish palette. The makeover has not only changed the facial expression of Saint George to a kind of dumbfounded stare, but also obliterated many of the details in his ornate armor, which now resembles that of a toy knight.

15th century Virgin Mary sculpture gets a very special makeoverHyperallergic
“I’m not a professional painter, but I’ve always enjoyed it, and these images really were in need of painting,” María Luisa Menéndez, the local tobacco shopkeeper responsible for this latest painting fiasco said in a statement to the newspaper El Comercio, adding that the local clergy had given her permission. “So I painted them the best I could, with the colors that seemed right, and the neighbors like it.”

How ‘Monkey Christ’ brought new life to a quiet Spanish townThe Guardian
Between August and December 2012, 45,824 people visited the sanctuary. The numbers may have dropped off since then, but Borja still receives 16,000 visitors a year – more than four times the number who came before Giménez picked up her brushes. Not only has the picture’s fame provided jobs for the sanctuary-museum’s two caretakers, it also helps fund places at Borja’s care home for the elderly, a haven for those who would not otherwise be able to afford to live there.

Botched Spanish statue that went viral is lovingly unrestoredThe Guardian
“It’s been a long process because we had to do preliminary tests and take samples to see how we could go about cleaning it and to determine which would be the best materials and methods,” [Carlos Martínez Álava, the head of the Navarre government’s historic heritage department] said. “Today, the statue has the same colours it had before last year’s extremely unfortunate intervention. But we know that we’ve lost part of the original paint along the way.”

Spanish statue bodge-up is a new rival to Borja’s Monkey ChristThe Guardian
What was once the smiling face of a woman next to some livestock has been replaced with a crude countenance that bears a passing resemblance to the incumbent US president, Donald Trump. Or one of the Sand People from Star Wars. Or something from a cheese-induced nightmare. Or, to be honest, pretty much anything you wish to project on to it.

Furniture restorer disfigures Murillo’s 17th-century Virgin Mary—and charges owner €1,200The Art Newspaper
The incident has sparked debate in Spain’s art conservation community, which says the country needs stricter rules on the restoration of art and heritage. “The works that undergo this type of non-professional intervention can end up irreversibly damaged,” says María Borja, one of the vice presidents of Spain’s Professional Association of Restorers and Conservators (ACRE), speaking to Europa Press.

“To challenge with optimism”

An additional Olympic item to mark today’s opening of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Goo Choki Par designs official poster for the Paralympics demonstrating Para-athletic powerIt’s Nice That
The design studio aimed to convey the idea that “passion cannot be stopped,” claiming that “passion is the hope of humanity that has always been passed on through the ages.” Although GCP were commissioned to create the official poster, the team went on to create all the posters for each of the 22 sports in the games, including canoeing, equestrian, and judo.

The concept was “Unity in Diversity” and this is reflected in the fusion of materials used to create the posters. “Geometric shapes are used to simplify the appeal of the competition,” says Kent Iitaka, “and to more symbolically express the moment when the body is full of power.” Brushes, pencils, and airbrushes were used in order to express speedy movement of athletes and the powerful competition space with passion.

The studio honed in on the dynamism of wheelchairs and artificial limbs alongside the power of sound produced by the athletes’ movements. As Iitaka puts it, “The various charms of parasports, such as the sensibilities of athletes who have been sharpened in the dark, of competitions held in a world without vision, are firmly established in one graphic for each competition.” The posters on black backgrounds are used to demonstrate a competition that includes a blind class – “It expresses the presence of a player who emerges powerfully even in the darkness with his eyes closed.”