American Masters Reader: January 2019


Robert Indiana “Love” at Fondation Gianadda, Martigny

Throughout our broadcast season, American Masters tells the stories of cultural giants whose work has had a profound effect on American society. The American Masters team is pleased to share a curated selection of the latest discourse in arts and culture: here are six articles and essays we enjoyed in January.

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His Art, Their Ideas: Did Robert Indiana Lose Control of His Work? Graham Bowley

The New York Times January 18th, 2019

Author Graham Bowley explores new evidence in a lawsuit between Morgan Art Foundation, representing the late Robert Indiana’s interests, and two of Robert Indiana’s associates. Morgan Art Foundation claims that, during the last years of Robert Indiana’s life, Indiana’s associates took advantage of the elderly artist and created fake art under his name for profit. Bowley’s article raises the question: what makes art legitimate?

On Beirut, the Unsung Capital of Arabic Modernism Robyn Creswell

The Paris Review January 17th, 2019

In “On Beirut, the Unsung Capital of Arabic Modernism,” Robyn Creswell provides a window into the flourish of Arab Modernism in Beruit from the 1950s until the Lebanese civil war in 1975, specifically focusing on the radical poetry during this period.

The Hunt for the Nazi Loot Still Sitting on Library Shelves Milton Esterow

The New York Times January 14th, 2019

While we often hear about stolen art being returned to their rightful owners, we rarely hear about the efforts to return books and other less expensive cultural materials. In “The Hunt for the Nazi Loot Still Sitting on Library Shelves,” Author Milton Esterow highlights the extensive efforts made by European libraries to return books stolen by the Nazis to the books’ owners or their descendants.

Comping White Laura B. McGrath

The Los Angeles Review of Books January 21th, 2019

In deciding whether to acquire a new manuscript, major publishing houses consult the work’s Comp Titles — a summary of books similar to the manuscript and those books’ target audiences. At the Stanford University Literary Lab, Laura B. McGrath analyzed data from the 50 most frequently referenced Comp Titles to determine whether the publishing industry as a whole is systematically racist.

To Understand Art, Think Biology Lance Esplund

The Atlantic January 16th, 2019

This essay, adapted from Lance Esplund’s forthcoming book The Art of Looking: How to Read Modern and Contemporary Art, focuses on the anatomy of an abstract or modern artwork. Esplund explains how to view a piece like an art historian by focusing on the formal elements of a work such as line, shape, form, texture, and color rather than the composition as a whole.

The Joy of a Musical Session Robert Sullivan

The New Yorker January 28th, 2019

In this personal essay, author Robert Sullivan praises the cathartic power of live music. Sullivan explores how visiting live Irish music sessions has inspired his writing.