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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE: Press --Wyman Institute (6-21-09)
The cartoon feature, by Maus creator Art Spiegelman and Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, appears in today's Washington Post (June 21, 2009) and may be viewed at:
Today marks the seventieth anniversary of the end of the voyage of the St. Louis, which was forced to take its more than 900 German Jewish refugee passengers back to Europe after being refused entry to Cuba and the United States in June 1939.
The Spiegelman-Medoff collaboration is the latest in a series of projects by the Wyman Institute to teach Holocaust history through the medium of graphic art. Other recent projects include:
-- "The Last Outrage," a comic strip by...
SOURCE: Philadelphia Inquirer (6-19-09)
Opening today at the African American Museum at Seventh and Arch Streets, the exhibit marks a drastic turning point in how U.S. history is typically told.
"Audacious Freedom: African Americans In Philadelphia, 1776-1876" is the first permanent exhibit at the museum narrating an epic sweep stretching from slavery to the post-Civil War era. It includes two galleries and engaging life-size videos.
Visitors will get to learn about Philadelphians such as Black Alice, an enslaved African; abolitionist Robert Purvis; and Octavius Catto, a 19th-century political activist who was assassinated by whites in 1871.
Local officials hope the $4.5 million high-tech exhibit will provide a much-needed hub for an African American history trail that includes the President's House memorial, Mother Bethel AME...
SOURCE: NYT (6-21-09)
These were the conversations that the diplomat Baldassare Castiglione recreated (and no doubt embellished) soon afterward in “The Book of the Courtier,” a kind of manual on how to be cool at court that for centuries afterward was required reading throughout Europe for all who aspired to a life of power and polish.
“Here, then, gentle discussions and innocent pleasantries were heard,” Castiglione wrote of the delightful ambience fostered by Elisabetta Gonzaga, the duchess who...
SOURCE: http://www.thebostonchannel.com (6-20-09)
An iconic photograph of Albert Einstein was sold by a New Hampshire auction company Friday for $74,324, making it the most expensive Einstein photograph ever sold at auction, according to the auctioneers.
The photograph was taken in 1951 while Einstein was celebrating his birthday at Princeton University. Photographer Arthur Sasse tried to convince Einstein to pose with a smile for the photo, but Einstein instead stuck out his tongue, producing one of the most recognizable images of the irreverent physicist.
Although Einstein was amused by the photograph, his tongue gesture was more than joke, according to RRAuction.com marketing director Bobby Livingston. McCarthyism was reaching a high point in the United States, and scientists like Einstein were being asked to report on the activities of their colleagues
SOURCE: NYT (6-19-09)
“My apologies,” said Antonis Samaras, Greece’s culture minister, who was overseeing the final preparations for the museum’s debut on Saturday. “But it’s like the Olympics,” he added, referring to the 2004 Athens Games. “Everything will magically come together on opening night.”
If it does, Greece will finally, after decades of preparation, procrastination and acrimonious debate, have a large-scale, architecturally ambitious and modern center for the care and display of artifacts from its most important ancient site. The museum, which cost $200 million and sits near the base of the Acropolis with a direct view of...
SOURCE: Scott Horton in Harper's (6-19-09)
Austin Ratner has just made his debut as a novelist with a remarkable work based on the tragedy-filled life of Philippe Halsman, the iconic American photographer of the post-war years. The work documents a triumph of human spirit over tremendous adversity. I put six questions to Austin Ratner about his book.
1. Your novel focuses on Philippe Halsman, a New York photographer whose work gained international repute in the forties and fifties, but you write that your work is not so much a biography as a tribute to Halsman, just as Rodin’s sculpture of Balzac is a tribute rather than an example of verisimilitude. But your novel is filled with a vast collection of meticulous historical details. How did you settle on Halsman as a subject, and how do you distinguish historical detail from fiction in your approach to him?
I had Halsman’s famous photograph...
SOURCE: CBS News (6-18-09)
It's amazing to look inside these rooms and imagine him here, reports CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella. That's what it's all about - getting inside here and looking through the open door - his collection of books, his objects.
For 20 years Hemingway lounged in these seats, drank from these bottles, wrote one of his greatest works, "For Whom the Bell Tolls," and dreamed up his last great classic on this typewriter, "The Old Man and the Sea," inspired by fishing trips on a boat that sits right outside the door.
William DuPont is an American leading a team of experts in a rare collaboration with the Cuban government to preserve the home, right down to the wall where Hemingway obsessively recorded his weight.
"I think we might be the only architects,...
SOURCE: Maurice Isserman in The Nation (6-10-09)
On October 9, 1967, a Bolivian army communiqué from La Paz announced that Ernesto"Che" Guevara, the Argentine-born Cuban revolutionary comandante turned itinerant guerrilla, had been hunted down by soldiers and killed in battle. The New York Times responded editorially, and with evident satisfaction, that if the report proved true,"as now seems probable," then"a myth as well as a man has been laid to rest." It was not the Times's most accurate prediction.
Photographs of Che's lifeless body soon appeared in newspapers around the globe, putting to rest doubts about his death. Perhaps the most famous image was one taken by Freddy Alborta, showing Che's corpse being displayed to the press by Bolivian army officers. Yet...
SOURCE: Robert McHenry at the Britannica Blog (6-17-09)
For younger readers a little history is in order. From the time of George Washington’s first administration, beginning in 1789, until 1971 the U.S. Post Office was an integral part of the Executive branch of the federal government, and the Postmaster General was a member of the President’s Cabinet and, consequently, in the line of succession to the presidency. One Samuel Osgood was the first to hold the office, which put him just a handful of...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (6-17-09)
New tests on the stone have found that the marble was once covered with shades of blue, while it also thought red, green and gold were used.
By shining red light onto the marble, Dr Giovanni Verri identified an ancient pigment known as Egyptian blue, used until the year 800AD.
SOURCE: NYT (6-16-09)
So when a book that describes itself on its copyright page as “An Unauthorized Fictional Examination of the Relationship Between J. D. Salinger and his Most Famous Character” was published in Britain and scheduled for release in the Untied States, a detour to court was a safe bet.
“60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye,” by J. D. California, a 33-year-old humor writer from Sweden who uses that gimmicky nom de plume, might be read as an update of sorts to Mr. Salinger’s 1951 classic, “The Catcher in the Rye,” which has sold more than 35 million copies. The new work centers on a 76-year-old “Mr. C,” the creation of a writer named Mr. Salinger. Although the name Holden Caulfield does not appear in the book, Mr. C is clearly Holden, one of the most enduring adolescent figures in American...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (6-15-09)
The mysterious portrait of a semi-nude woman, looking straight at the viewer with an enigmatic smile and with her hands crossed, bears a remarkable resemblance to Leonardo's world famous painting.
Hidden for almost a century within the panelled walls of a library, the portrait appears to have been inspired by the Mona Lisa, which hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris and was painted by the Italian master in the early 1500s.
It will form one of the centrepieces of a new exhibition at the Museo Ideale in the Tuscan town of Vinci, near Florence, where Leonardo was born in 1452.
SOURCE: National Geographic (6-15-09)
The finding challenges the conventional view that Machu Picchu was a royal estate of the Inca ruler Pachacuti, who built it around A.D. 1460.
"I believe that much of the sacred space of the Incas has still to be recognized as such," said study author Giulio Magli, an astrophysicist at the Polytechnic Institute in Milan, Italy.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (6-16-09)
As sea levels threaten a number of historic properties, the government is considering ways to protect them.
Historic monuments that are threatened with destruction could be moved in exceptional circumstances to a "more sustainable location", according to a consultation paper released by the Department for the Environment. Coastal defences should be improved in less severe cases and valuable assets recorded in case they are lost forever, it says.
Owners of homes which will be lost to the sea could receive grants to cover demolition and moving costs.
This week the Met Office will warn of the threat of rising sea levels to Britain over the next 80 years.
SOURCE: NYT (6-15-09)
Although some critics initially complained about that book’s “annoying title,” “Freakonomics” was an instant success, generating, among other things, a column in The New York Times Magazine, a blog on the Times Web site (freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com), and a planned documentary.
So it’s no surprise that other authors hope to benefit from the reflected glory. Last summer “Obamanomics” and “Slackonomics” appeared. This year “Invent-onomics 101” made its debut. And in the fall “Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays” will hit bookstores.
Capitalizing on popular titles has a long pedigree in the publishing industry. A well-turned phrase can give birth to dozens of offspring. Edward Gibbon’s...
SOURCE: BBC (6-14-09)
The National Trust for Scotland, which runs the museum, said the artefacts were sold to the museum in the 1930s by the bard's great-granddaughter.
The 19th Century items were retrieved from two boxes during renovation work.
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (6-14-09)
A bitter new row over ownership of the Elgin marbles has erupted, threatening to eclipse the inauguration this week of a major new museum in Athens designed to house the contested masterpieces.
Just days before the opening of the €130m (£110m) New Acropolis Museum, officials in Athens and London were this weekend engaging in barbed exchanges over the classical treasures.
The dispute, which has indirectly dragged in the Queen, the Greek-born Duke of Edinburgh, and Gordon Brown, re-erupted when Hannah Boulton, the British Museum's spokeswoman, told an Athens radio station that it would consider a loan request from Greece provided that it acknowledged, as is customary with all borrowing institutions, that London owned the pieces. The sculptures, she said, could be displayed in the New Acropolis Museum for three or four months, "the length of...
SOURCE: AFP (6-14-09)
The fabled bust of Nefertiti, renowned as one of history's great beauties, was brought to Berlin in 1913, a year after German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt unearthed it on the banks of the Nile.
Cairo began demanding the statue in the 1930s, but successive German governments, beginning with Adolf Hitler's, have refused its request.
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (6-14-09)
I turn off the main drag on the short drive into Belfast city centre, and am confronted by a very different scene. With a macabre civic pride that might be suited to some underground, alternative tourist brochure, a gun-wielding, balaclava-clad paramilitary greets me with the words: "You are now entering Loyalist Sandy Row, Heartland of South Belfast Ulster Freedom Fighters."
Each of these images is as emblematic as the other of the deep tribal divisions that bedevilled this city through the siege years of...
SOURCE: Times (UK) (6-16-09)
That man is now the hero of Mincemeat, which Jackson’s cast of professional and formerly homeless actors perform in an East London warehouse later this month. He was also the hero, after a fashion, of the Bafta-winning 1956 film The Man Who Never Was and of the postwar pot-boiler Operation Heartbreak, a novel by a former First Lord of the Admiralty, Duff Cooper. Both were based on a real-life wartime disinformation plot, codenamed Mincemeat, that led Germany to believe that the Allies would invade Sardinia rather than their actual objective, Sicily, in 1943. This was...