Roundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ...
Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits
This page features links to reviews of movies, documentaries and exhibits with a historical theme. Listings are in reverse chronological order. Descriptions are taken directly from the linked publication. If you have articles you think should be listed on the Pop Culture page, please send them to the editor email@example.com.
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (7-4-08)
"Dictator Returns to the Capital," declared the Frankfurter Allgemeine, in a tongue-in-cheek appraisal of the controversial figure, which was previewed yesterday. "He left with a bang, followed by a small fire in the garden of the Reichs chancellery ... he returns to Berlin as a mere representation," the paper said.
In the London Tussauds, it is a Hitler in fighting spirit who is on display, punching his fist in the air as Winston Churchill looks on. But such as pose was out of the question at the Berlin museum, a stone's throw from Hitler's bunker and near the site of the Holocaust memorial. "Of...
SOURCE: Slate (7-3-08)
Almost everything you find counts as an artifact, as long as it was made or impacted by people. The objects comprise more than just materials from George Washington's home; archaeologists excavated a full acre of land, and the items they collected spanned 10,000 years of history—from rocks used to sharpen prehistoric stone tools to Civil War-era buttons. The collection does include an expensive tea set thought to be owned by the Washingtons and a pipe bearing a Masonic crest, but most of the objects are far more mundane, like nails, broken glass, or cracked egg shells. The only artifacts that weren't removed from the site are remnants of old buildings—either architectural fragments that are...
SOURCE: NYT (7-2-08)
SOURCE: NYT (7-2-08)
The fractured 15th-century sculpture, a 62-inch-by-32-inch blue-and-white lunette depicting St. Michael the archangel in a traditional pose, holding a sword and scales, was found early on Tuesday by a guard on regular rounds.
Harold Holzer, a museum spokesman, said the sculpture, which had been displayed over the doorway in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Galleries since 1996, might have done a flip in the air as it fell, causing it to land relatively flat on its reverse side and sparing it “catastrophic damage.”
SOURCE: Gregory McNamee at the Britannica Blog (7-2-08)
Primatology’s loss was moviedom’s gain when, along about 1930, an overly neat maid tossed an 800-page monograph on baboons onto the fire, thus consigning Merian Caldwell Cooper’s careful research to the flames. Cooper, who’d been fascinated with apes all his life and had taken time from location scouting in Africa to do all that side work, apparently didn’t flinch, though neither did he ever try to reconstruct what had been lost.
SOURCE: Jay Parini in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (6-27-08)
In the 19th century, poets like Scott, Byron, and Longfellow had huge audiences around the world. Their works were best sellers, and they were cultural heroes as well. But readers had few choices in those days. One imagines, perhaps falsely, that people actually liked poetry. It provided them with narratives that entertained and inspired. It gave them words to attach to their feelings. They enjoyed folk ballads, too. In a sense, music and poetry joined hands.
In the 20th century, something went amiss. Poetry became "difficult." That is, poets began to...
SOURCE: Bloomberg News (6-30-08)
Ferguson, a history professor at Harvard University, challenges the entire notion of advanced civilization in ``The War of the World,'' a three-part PBS series that begins tonight at 10 p.m. New York time.
Why was the century so bloody?
Ferguson argues that three factors converged to create a ``hundred-year global war'': economic volatility, the breakdown of multiethnic societies in places like Yugoslavia, and the unraveling of old empires, which unleashed a wave of revolutions and similar power gropes.
Racial animosity also reached new levels of virulence, Ferguson says. The Russian press denounced the Japanese as ``jaundiced monkeys'' in the run-up to the Russo-Japanese War; the Japanese retaliated by sending most of the Russian's Baltic fleet to the...
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (7-2-08)
Dr Edna Russmann, a curator at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, said she began to have suspicions about its collection of Coptic art – the second largest in North America – about four years ago. She said she has no qualms about going public with her findings now. "It's about time," she said.
Although some chemical testing on the works has yet to be completed, Dr Russmann considers that 10 of the 30 examples of Coptic art – Christian imagery in limestone from Egypt dating between the late fourth century and AD641 – held by the museum are phoney. Moreover, about half the other pieces have probably been extensively recarved and retouched.
Part of the purpose of the exhibition will be to alert other US institutions to the possibility...
SOURCE: AP (7-1-08)
Many outsiders may get their idea of the Big Easy's cocktail culture from the jumbo-sized plastic cups of punch slugged down by tourists on Bourbon Street.
But the Museum of the American Cocktail opening in July will focus on the rich history of sophisticated drinks that have been served since Thomas Jefferson was president.
Cocktails _ originally defined as any mixture of bitters, spirits and sugar _ were an early fixture in this French port city. Besides easy access to sugar, a European sensibility allowed a drinking culture to flourish when it foundered elsewhere in the South's Bible Belt.
"I definitely think New Orleans has always been the home of civilized drinking," said Ann Tuennerman, founder of Tales of the Cocktail, an annual festival that attracts thousands. "The image the tourists have is...
SOURCE: WaPo (7-1-08)
Today the prehistoric bovine could face annihilation by an army of encroaching black mold spots, the latest in a series of threats unwittingly brought in over the years by tourists, scientists and bureaucrats.
"Each time we try to resolve one problem, we create another," said Marie-Anne Sire, the cave administrator who coordinates the scientific teams trying to save the endangered reindeer, potbellied ponies and woolly rhinos of the Lascaux cave, which contains one of the world's most famous collections of prehistoric art.
The extraordinary creatures -- hundreds of exquisite beasts etched and painted across the undulating walls and ceilings of large underground cavities -- have become part of an international struggle to rescue prehistoric...
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (6-27-08)
But in an announcement set to raise a storm in the art world, the museum said yesterday that the celebrated El Coloso was not by the Spanish master after all, and was probably painted by a pupil in his studio.
In a devastating critique, the museum's chief Goya specialist said the painting, made during Napoleon's occupation of Spain after 1808 and long seen as one of the artist's most dramatic portrayals of the horrors of war, was "a pastiche".
"Stylistically, it is completely alien to Goya," said Manuela Mena, the Prado's senior Goya specialist who has studied El Coloso and doubts over its attribution for nearly 20 years. She also revealed doubts over at least three other Goyas held by the Prado.
The admission comes two months after The...