The Black Spot in the Painting

Consider a painting by one of the European masters. Somehow you’ve discovered this painting in your grandmother’s attic. It’s worth a fortune, or so say the appraisers who come to your house to inspect it.

They’re going to take it away for auction, but before they do, you insist on keeping it on your mantle for a month. Every day you look at it with pride. This painting has been in your family for centuries! Soon it will bring you wealth, but first it brings beauty and elegance to your living room.

The painting is spectacular, with thousands of careful brush strokes and just the right blend of colors. The artist had clearly spent decades mastering his craft. Of the dozens of his paintings that were still known to exist, you sense that this was one of his favorites.

Except for one thing. Just off-center, in the midst of perfection, lies a single black spot. The spot isn’t huge, but it’s not tiny either. When you look at the painting, there’s no missing it. How did it get there? Surely, you think, it was a rare mistake. Perhaps the painter was tired at the end of a long day and accidentally splashed a dash of black in the midst of all the color. Or maybe some well-meaning apprentice came along later to retouch the painting and ended up making a mess.

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“I Can’t Be Jealous of the Past. I Can Only be Jealous of the Future.”

I recently went to see Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, a curious film in the sense that it focuses much more on the subject’s love life than it does her love of art. Still, it was good overall and I’m glad I went.

The film showcases the development of several abstract and other non-traditional artists, including Jackson Pollack. I've always liked Pollack’s work, but I don’t think I understood the audacity of it until seeing this new film.

I often feel inspired when I hear about larger-than-life figures who pursued big ambitions. People like Pollack, and Peggy Guggenheim, did big things.

Then I went home and I thought: “What big thing am I doing?”

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Make Two Blockbusters for Every Arthouse Film

Blockbuster Consider a successful Hollywood actor. This actor likes to make independent, arthouse films. These films have special meaning to the actor, and he or she believes in them enough to give up a big paycheck to do them.

But this Hollywood actor also makes commercial, popular work. The actor has the prized opportunity to perform a major role in summer blockbusters, the kind of films that rarely win at the Oscars but regularly boost the actor’s stature, not to mention their bank account.

The clash of preferences and opportunities raises numerous questions—most of which miss the point.

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52-Week Art Project Creates Illustrative Postcards About Life

Workspace3 Who doesn't like getting hand-written postcards?

Designers Giorgia Lupi + Stefanie Posavec were living parallel lives as expats in London and Brooklyn when they decided to start a year-long postcard project.

Each week, they sent each other a postcard—but not just any postcards. As artists who work with data, each postcard illustrates a particular type of data about their lives.

After all 52 weeks, the project recently ended. You can see a few of the postcards below, or more on their site.

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Where Airplanes Go to Die: High-Res Photos Show An Airline Graveyard in the Mohave Desert

Photographers Andreana Scanderbeg and Alexander Sauer went to a desert in the American Southwest and found an airline graveyard.

They call their project Decommissioned, and it features images of many of the planes long after their useful life.

How do these images make you feel?


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Urban Yoga Project Takes Flight in New York, Madrid, and Paris

I like yoga, which means I tell people I practice all the time, but in reality only go to class a couple times a month. When I saw these photos of Slovenian architect Anja Humljan, I was amazed.

Anja has taken her passion for yoga and movement into urban environments—a global experiment in how we connect with cities. Take a look for yourself.


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The New World of Passport Tattoo Art: Possibly Illegal, Definitely Awesome

Léonard_Combier_Illustration_04 I'm proud of my stamps and visas, and I often get a double-take from immigration officers around the world when presenting my passport—but this guy has gone much further.

French illustrator Léonard Combier sent pictures of his work to Doodlers Anonymous, where he offered anyone to send him their passport to "tattoo."

Is this legal? Well, apparently it's an open question, since technically the work involves "defacing" a government document, and some countries have more of a sense of humor than others. Fortunately, most people report that most immigration agents have enjoyed it thus far.

Here are a few examples:


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“Adventure Is Anything that Puts Us Outside our Comfort Zone”: Notes from the Himalayas

Adventure photographer Cory Richards almost died in an avalanche while descending from a mountain in Pakistan, but he lived and the experience changed his life.

In a short (and amazing) video, he shares on “the richness that comes through struggle.”

“I’ve never been comfortable in the place that I’m in. I can’t stop and sit. It’s a constant engine that’s driving me to the things that are unknown to me."
Cory Polar

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Watch This Pan Am 747 Take to the Skies (Or At Least the Ground) in the Ultimate 1970s Recreation Air travel has changed a bit over the past few decades—and mostly for the better. Back in the day, an average transcontinental airfare would run you at least $1,500 in today's dollars, compared to $400 or so now. Yikes.

There were no budget airlines, and—shocking—there were no Frequent Flyer programs where average people could earn large amounts of miles and effectively travel for free. Still, a little nostalgia never hurt anyone (or does it?).

In another example of people who devote an incredible attention to detail, I loved seeing how a collector and a photographer recreated an entire Pan Am flight experience, down to the tiniest experiences like the precise menu, baggage tags, and even the dress code of passengers who were recruited to join in for the unconventional journey.

Take a look for yourself:

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Amazing Collage of Snapshot-Created City Maps by Japanese Artist

File under: ultimate collage art.

I recently stumbled on these amazing maps by Japanese artist Sohei Nishino. For each of them, he uses up to 4,000 photographs, culling and cutting them into the finished product.

I’m a sucker for great maps, and I always love seeing when someone devotes years of their life to producing a specific craft. Put those things together, and you’ve got my attention.


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Robert Genn’s Last Year to Live

They considered how to spend the time they had left together. There were thoughts of trips to Hawaii or the Galapagos, but Genn wanted to end his life as he had lived it: in his studio, making art, with his family close by. James fashioned a reclining chair so his father could continue to paint,…

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