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STUFFED

Dead and Beautiful

Rats, squirrels, and dead kittens in their Sunday best… A new book explores the fantastic anthropomorphic world of Walter Potter, one of the pre-eminent taxidermists of Victorian Britain.

Yes, those really are stuffed kittens dressed in finely detailed Victorian garb at a wedding, and that really is a squirrel at the club playing cribbage with a cigar hanging out of his mouth.

Welcome to the weird and strange tableaux by the once well-known taxidermist Walter Potter, the subject a delightful new book, Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy, by Dr. Pat Morris and Joanna Ebenstein.

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Joanna Ebenstein and Pat Morris

The book details Potter’s work as one of the more prominent taxidermists of the Victorian Era, whose work became the foundation for a museum of oddities visited by millions during its existence, including the Bloomsbury Set and Queen Mary, and was covered by media outlets from as far afield as China. In Victorian England, taxidermy was popular both as a pursuit, and as an attraction.

Cut-Outs

Matisse: Innovator Until the End

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Leon Neal/Getty

Many artists wind down in their twilight years, but not Matisse. He was not only prolific, but also created an entirely new art form with his vivid, cut-out paper works.

Surrounded on all sides by the joyful sweep and thrilling colors of some of Henri Matisse’s greatest work, it is impossible to miss the surge of excitement that coursed through the artist in his 70s and ensured that his final years became some of his most prolific and ambitious.

Suffering from terrible arthritis, wheelchair-bound, and often confined to the studio where he worked and slept, Matisse eschewed paintbrushes, which he found increasingly difficult to use, and created a new medium that allowed him to stretch his love of composition and color further than ever before.

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, which opens at Tate Modern in London on Thursday, is a glorious and unprecedented study of his final decade. The project, created jointly by Tate and MoMA, is the largest-ever collection of the artist’s paper cut-out work, including all four iconic “Blue Nudes.” It is scheduled to open in New York in mid-October.

Matisse’s finest cut-outs are reunited in chronological order, sometimes for the first time since he created them, giving you the sense of stepping into the studio where he worked. He often made the compositions by pinning the pieces of paper he had cut directly onto the walls around him. In one room of the exhibition, his vivid, life-size plan for the Vence Chapel includes the outline of the door to his studio.

gallery

The Beauty of The ’Burbs

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Best Dive Sites in North America

Deutsche Börse Finalist

War in Technicolor

Using a type of film popular during WWII, Richard Mosse photographs the brutality of the drawn-out conflict in the DRC in vibrant color, hoping to catch the world's attention.

Armed and incredibly dangerous, soldiers from the deadly Congolese M23 militia stare into the camera lens surrounded by lush sub-Saharan jungle that is glowing bright pink. The extraordinary, unedited images were created using some of the last surviving rolls of Second World War era infrared surveillance film.

Richard Mosse

(c) Richard Mosse; Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery

They were taken in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo by Richard Mosse, an Irish photographer who bought up Kodak’s last supplies of the film so that he could capture the invisible.

The film, which shows infrared light, was produced in conjunction with the U.S. military to help spot camouflaged enemy combatants from spy planes that have flown above battlefields all over the world since the 1940s. Mosse’s stunning use of the now-obsolete technology has landed him on an international four-person shortlist for the prestigious Deutsche Börse Photography Prize.

Freedom of Speech

Artists vs. the Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao Censors Paul McCarthy and Mike Bouchet Collaboration

Camilo Brau

The Guggenheim Bilbao has ordered a mural that caricatures the museum to be taken down, but the artists are arguing the artwork's removal would violate their freedom of speech.

Could a respected museum be violating artists’ freedom of speech in Spain? The Guggenheim Bilbao ordered a mural created by artists Mike Bouchet and Paul McCarthy that depicts the museum with hand-drawn sketches reinterpreting it as a battleship to be taken down. The mural coincides with an exhibition by the artists, titled “Powered A-Hole Spanish Donkey Sport Dick Drink Donkey Dong Dongs Sunscreen Model,”  at the contemporary art space Portikus in Frankfurt that criticizes art institutions as, according to a press release, “self-serving mechanisms for their board members.”

“What’s the purpose of these museums?” pondered Bouchet in a recent phone conversation. “The purpose of museums like this probably have more to do with city tourism than with art.”

Bouchet and McCarthy worked with a Spanish media company that sells billboard space throughout Bilbao in order to place the large-scale piece, which has hung since April 2, on 31 Gran Via, also home to a Massimo Dutti retail shop.

The artists first conceptualized the piece in the early 2000s, when they likened the Guggenheim Bilbao’s Frank Gehry-designed building to a battleship. “We were amazed that we hadn’t seen it come up before in popular media,” Bouchet said. “I think the fact that they reacted so strongly, that they were not interested in any sort of artistic interpretation of their museum… It’s hard for me to say what their motivation is, other than that image of the museum as a battleship, there must be some sensitivity to that particular image because it happens to look like it so much.” Bouchet went on to explain that the Guggenheim Bilbao said that they own all the rights to any reproduction of the museum.

Art Mysteries

Lost Masterpieces Found in Kitchen

A retired Italian autoworker unwittingly bought two stolen art masterpieces worth millions for $32 and kept them on his kitchen wall for nearly 40 years.

It was just after sunrise on a June morning in 1975, when “Nicolo,” whose real name cannot be revealed because of Italy’s privacy laws, finished working the night shift on the assembly line at the FIAT auto factory in Turin.  As he often did, he stopped by the “after work auction” run by the Italian state police where items found on the trains were sold to the highest bidder.  There, among the watches, radios and lost coats, Nicolo spotted two paintings he thought would look nice above his dining room table. The auctioneer told him they were just “garbage” found on a midnight train from Paris to Turin, and started the bidding at 50,000 lire ($35). Nicolo loved art, but he only made 200,000 lire or $143 a month and he couldn’t justify spending a quarter of his monthly salary, so he bid 30,000 lire ($20) for the two. He and another bidder battled until Nicolo finally won the paintings for 45,000 lire—around $32.  He took them home and hung them on his wall. “I have a photo album of my most fond memories: the kids’ birthdays, anniversaries, parties, Christmas lunches,” he told La Repubblica newspaper.  “In the background there were always the two paintings.”

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Andreas Solar/AFP/Getty

When Nicolo retired and moved home to Siracusa, Sicily, he brought the paintings with him. This time, he hung them in his kitchen above the same table he had moved from Turin.  His son, age 15, who had taken an art appreciation class, thought there was something peculiar about the one with a young girl sitting on a garden chair.  It was signed “Bonnato” or so he thought, but when he researched it, he only found “Bonnard,” a French painter he had never heard of.  He bought a book and was surprised to find a picture of the artist Pierre Bonnard sitting on the same chairs in the same garden as the painting that hung on his father’s wall.

“That’s the garden in our picture,” Nicolo said his son told him.  They eventually learned that the painting they owned was called “The Girl With Two Chairs.”  They studied the other painting, which was unsigned, and learned that it was actually Paul Gauguin’s “Still Life of Fruit on A Table With A Small Dog.”  The family called a special art theft squad with the Italian Culture ministry, which deals with counterfeit and stolen art; the official verified that the canvases were originals and worth as much as $50 million.

Greenwich Village

When Downtown Was Cool

Greenwich Village holds a mythical place in the history of NYC. Three legends in their own right remember the neighborhood that helped shape them into the artists they have become.

I opened Pó at 31 Cornelia Street on May 27, 1993, and my first and fondest memories emanate from that most excellent corner of Cornelia and Bleecker. On Sundays, intoxicated by both the bells of Our Lady of Pompeii and the fragrance of Zito’s Bakery, I would wander out the front door of Pó at 9 a.m., having done all the prep for lunch and dinner, and head over to Faicco’s to buy fixings for our Sunday staff supper. I’d chitchat with the boys behind the counter, sometimes trade recipes with the sweet Village ladies on the way to or from confession, but mostly guarantee a delicious meal for the crew and me after night service. One of my faves was a sugo with braciole, sausages, and spareribs that I would cook slowly on the back burner and serve around 11 p.m. with gnocchi or rigatoni. After Faicco’s I’d pick up some nice ripe taleggio at Murray’s Cheese directly across the street. Right next door I’d grab a couple of still hot loaves of Zito’s poetic, sesame-coated “Italian bread” and then maybe peek into the Aphrodisia herb store to smile at my favorite cats. If I still had time, I’d grab a box of sfogliatelle for the crew for breakfast and snag an espresso with a little anisette at Rocco’s, just because it was Sunday. A constitutional around Father Demo Square, a look into the kids’ park at Winston Churchill Square to make sure there were no sleepers bothering the kids, and a morning salutation to Joe at Joe’s Pizza, still the best slice in the Village if you get the fresh mozzarella for a seventy-five-cent upgrade. Up Bleecker past the steps of the church and back into my kitchen for a great day making lunch or dinner for my local family and theirs.
Mario Batali

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In 1985 I scored a job working for Diana Vreeland at the Costume Institute. I was hired as “display designer” on a show titled Costumes of Royal India.

Beautiful Places

A Case of Home Envy

OMG, I Want This House

OMG, I Want This House

Seen from the street, this two-story home seems to be yet another suburban house. But on the inside, it's a wonderland of lush gardens, quirky design elements, and bright, airy spaces.

Haute Hampton

OMG, I Want this House

South African Paradise

OMG, I Want This House

Life On the Edge

They Did What?!

Jumping for Freedom

Jumping for Freedom

The authorities are charging the men who parachuted from One World Trade Center. But we should be celebrating them.

Iditarod

Jamaica's Amazing Dogsled Team

Unsanctioned

A Most Illegal Adventure

Foodie Paradise

Belly of the Beast

Spain’s Vegetable Whisperer

Spain’s Vegetable Whisperer

Michelin-starred Spanish chef Rodrigo de la Calle is having a whole lot of fun playing with his food…and he’ll leave no plant untried in the process

Pit Stop

A South Carolina Oyster Shack

Eataly

A Disneyland for Foodies

Kozue

Rehabbing Fukushima’s Food Scene

Drink Up

Paris’s Beer Revolution

Mirror Image

Doppelgängers Do Exist

These People Are Strangers

These People Are Strangers

On a whim, François Brunelle began taking photos of complete strangers who look eerily similar. Over 200 images later, he is going strong all over the world.

Globetrotter

Lush Places

The Scotland of India

The Scotland of India

India has become known for the congested traffic and crowds of the cities. To escape the madness, Indians head to Coorg, a land of lush beauty, traditional food, and—sigh—tranquility.

Antigua

Lush Places: Guatemala's Best City

Island Time

No Shirt, No Shoes ...

Day at the Museum

Art to See Right Now

Bill Cunningham’s Tales of Old NYC

Bill Cunningham’s Tales of Old NYC

Bill Cunningham is known for his photographs of New York’s striking and fashionable residents. A 1968 project placed architecture squarely in the center of the frame too.

Hell Raiders

Every Viking ‘Fact’ Is Wrong

AMERICAN GREAT

Jasper Johns is Back to Work

Nexcite

Sexually-Charged Napalm Art

COLOR SPLASH

Capa in Color

Imbibing

Argentina Bar Crawl

The Absinthe-Minded Buenos Aires

The Absinthe-Minded Buenos Aires

A scattered group of absinthe lovers are beginning to come together in the Paris of South America to make and drink the green fairy. There’s only one problem—it’s largely illegal.

Kigurumi

Laurie Simmons's New Show

A Dunham Doll’s Life

A Dunham Doll’s Life

Artist Laurie Simmons explores the freedom that comes with dressing up like someone entirely different—a doll—in a new exhibit based on the Japanese practice of Kigurumi.

Crazy Places

What a World

Sacrificial Limbs of New Orleans

Sacrificial Limbs of New Orleans

The devout have been making pilgrimages to one historic chapel for over a century, bringing strange offerings like organ replicas, glass eyes, and prosthetics as a prayer for recovery.

What a World

India’s Skeleton Lake

What a World

The Island Ruled by Cats

What a World

Africa's Epic Empty Megachurch

What a World

Arrows Across America

Great Escapes