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The Search for General Tso

A new documentary premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival explores how and why General Tso’s chicken became a cultural touchstone.

It’s a taste both foreign, and familiar. Chicken is diced into square inches, marinated, and deep-fried in a wok, followed by a quick toss in brown sauce. The sauce is a mélange of flavors—tangy, salty, and sweet—lathered on a crisp shell encasing the warm, tender meat.


General Tso's Chicken (Ian Cheney)

General Tso’s chicken has become a staple of American dining; a dish that, were it not for pizza, could be crowned the most popular ethnic food item in the country. And it’s a total cash cow. The dish is carried in most of the 50,000 Chinese restaurants in the United States, produced very cheaply, and sold for about $10 a pop, resulting in billions of dollars in tasty revenue.

Ian Cheney’s documentary The Search for General Tso, premiering at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, traces the origins of the beloved Chinese food dish, and examines who the hell General Tso is.

Guest Star

Pharrell to Curate Parisian Art Show

Pharrell to Curate Parisian Art Show Frazer Harrison/Getty

Organizes feminist show at Galerie Perrotin

Dedicated to “strong, free women,” an upcoming exhibition at the Galerie Perrotin’s third Parisian outpost has enlisted a very happy guest curator—singer Pharrell Williams. After successfully organizing last year’s “This Is Not A Toy” exhibition at the Design Exchange in Canada, Williams—who has also designed furniture, collaborated with artist Takashi Murakami, and is an avid collector of art—will present a group of 32 artists, half of whom are women. Borrowing its name from Williams’s recently released album, Girl, the show's artists will include Cindy Sherman, Tracey Emin, Guerrilla Girls, and Marina Abramovic and will run from May 27-June 25.

Read it at Complex


An Edward Hopper Novel?

Two authors inspired by a Hopper painting are writing a serial story and posting new additions online throughout the month of April.

Have you ever found yourself staring at a painting, building in your mind a world of people, events, and emotions captured in that moment?

All this month two authors have been taking that daydreaming tendency to a new new level by serially publishing an online novella inspired by Edward Hopper’s painting “Office at Night.”

The novella, by Kate Bernheimer and Laird Hart, is in conjunction with the exhibition Hopper Drawing: A Painter’s Process organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art and on exhibit at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis through June 20. Bernheimer is a well-known American fairy-tale writer, and Hunt is the editor of the Denver Quarterly.

The novella is being published on the Walker’s website, with new sections appearing each day through the end of the month. The choice of “Office at Night” is smart, because while at first it seems to depict a mundane office scene, it is pregnant with tension. Plus, the writers had at least one clue from the artist, as Hopper told the Walker he was inspired by his rides on the “L” train in New York City at night, and the “glimpses of office interiors that were so fleeting as to leave fresh and vivid impressions on my mind.”


Homoerotic Art Goes Postal

Homoerotic Art Goes Postal Itella

Finland Postal Service introduces new stamps.

Finland’s postal service is celebrating homoerotic art. Their most recent commemorative stamp design will present a bevy of barely dressed and leather-clad muscle men based on 33 different works by the Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen, commonly known as Tom of Finland. “The sheet (of stamps) portrays a sensual life force and being proud of oneself,” graphic designer Tim Berry, who helped select the images, said. Laaksonen’s portrayal of gay sex and relationships has been unabashedly celebrated in the gay community and art world. The stamp’s debut will coincide with a solo exhibition of Laaksonen’s work, Sealed with a Secret: Correspondence of Tom of Finland, at Finland’s Postal Museum. 

Read it at Washington Post


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.


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.


Matisse: Innovator Until the End


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.


The Original Selfies

Rembrandt and Kim Kardashian have something in common: Both showed off in images they created of themselves. A new book reveals the self-portrait’s fascinating and revealing history.

As history would have it, we all have a little Kim Kardashian in us—even masters like Velasquez. While the famed Spanish artist behind Las Meninas may not have been posting pictures of his rotund derriere on Instagram, he, along with many other well-known artists, were driven to create and disseminate portraits of themselves.

While we may never know why Kardashian does it, knowing why artists like Rembrandt and Courbet did so is at the heart of art historian James Hall’s book, The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History.

The Self-Portrait by James Hall

Self-portraits today are consumed by general audiences often with the cult of the artist in mind—that they are a window into a true genius or tormented soul, à la Munch or Van Gogh, as well as promotional. 


All Aboard the Orient Express

When a rail line opened connecting Paris to Istanbul, the world was changed forever, allowing people from faraway places to embark on a romantic adventure to see how the others lived.

Since its early days, train travel has been shrouded in an aura of romanticism. It has become emblematic of a bygone era of epic voyages, adventures, and discovery—the excitement and possibility of accessing vast new territories. Today, our fascination with train travel continues, as evidenced in the heavy buzz surrounding the Amtrak writer’s residency, or that episode in Sex and the City where the gals take a long locomotive trip from East to West coast (“Think about it as an adventure. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey,” Carrie says overconfidently, squealing at the conductor’s “All aboard!”). There’s something that continues to enthrall us about this storied form of transportation. 


In Paris, an exhibition at the Arab World Institute makes the most of this allure. "Il était une fois l’Orient Express” (“Once Upon a Time on the Orient Express”), on display through August 31, is a collaboration between the SNCF (France’s national railway company) and the Arab World Institute that marks the 130th anniversary of the fabled Orient Express route. This pan-European crossing bridged Paris and Istanbul (a trip lasting three days and two nights), eventually connecting to other far-flung destinations like Cairo and Baghdad.


The Beauty of The ’Burbs

'The World as I Saw It'

Mike Loffler spent 15 months visiting 20 countries around the world. This video, meant to 'showcase the people, nature, and spirit of travel,' really makes you want to pick up and go.

  1. Scuba Divers Escape Humpback Whales Play

    Scuba Divers Escape Humpback Whales

  2. 10 Trips You Need to Take in Your 20s Play

    10 Trips You Need to Take in Your 20s

  3. Antelope Leaps into Car to Escape Cheetah Play

    Antelope Leaps into Car to Escape Cheetah

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.


Jamaica's Amazing Dogsled Team


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


A Disneyland for Foodies


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.


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.


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


Jasper Johns is Back to Work


Sexually-Charged Napalm Art


Capa in Color


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.


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