He’s wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin, the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris and the Aurelian Wall in Rome. And until recently Bulgarian-American artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude were to drape a silvery canopy of fabric across swathes of the Arkansas River in Colorado. The two had already spent 20 years and €14m on the public artwork Over the River – it was going to be a tourist magnet on federally owned land – but this week Christo announced that he would abandon the project in protest of Donald Trump, who had become his new de facto “landlord”. Despite many demonstrations against Trump and his politics since the inauguration, this is by far the biggest that the art world has seen to date. Christo left communist Bulgaria in favour of liberal New York in 1964 and it’s fair to say that real-world politics have always influenced his work. Wrapping the Reichstag, a symbol of unity and democracy, speaks for itself. Sometimes art – or its absence – is the best form of protest.
Like an old band cranking out their greatest hits on a reunion tour, the tennis stars of almost-yesteryear are back with a vengeance – for one Grand Slam only (probably)! Both the ladies and men’s sides of the draw at the Australian Open have produced unlikely, poetic and retro results to lend proceedings a distinctly nostalgic feel. While Aussie readers will already know the result of the Williams sisters’ meeting in their first final since Wimbledon 2009, the stage is set for Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s first slam decider since the French Open in 2011. Set the clock back to an era of planking, Academy Award winner ‘The Artist’ and Kris Humphries marrying Kim Kardashian and set the alarm for 08.30 UK time on Sunday morning for coverage of the final. Insert wooden racket joke here.
The world’s largest hourglass seemed a fitting piece of public art for Japan's Tottori: the western prefecture’s seaside sand dunes are its biggest tourist attraction. But the Tottori Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s hopes of building a six-metre-tall hourglass in front of the main railway station by 2018 has hit a snag. It’s not just that the majority of the business group’s members have panned the design: Tottori residents also worry that money from public coffers to fund part of the ¥300m (€2.4m) project will be diverted from essential public services. The structure, which would surpass the 5.2-metre-tall hourglass in neighbouring Shimane prefecture (pictured), has become the country’s latest symbol of a local vanity project gone awry.
A quick scan of today’s headlines can betray our obsession with stories of individual success. From technology start-ups to entrepreneurship, we’re inspired by the people that go against the grain and buck received wisdom in favour of gut feelings. That said, we don’t hear much about being nice while they’re doing it. Graphic designer Anthony Burrill, however, advises just this in his colourful and charming new book Make it Now!. The pretty flick-through puts forward an inspiring rundown of a career that spans sentimental art-school daubings and barnstorming campaigns for the likes of Nike, Hermès, Google and the London Underground. On one hand it’s a rollicking retrospective from a respected name in the world of graphic design, on the other it’s a reminder worth heeding about the sources of creativity and role of the designer to question, improve and probe. It’s a failsafe first-person account that validates, vindicates and inspires the little-represented idea of success – and being nice while you do it.
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