What We're Reading: 11/27/22
Susannah Perlman remembers her mother Marla's smile, a big, beaming smile that covered "a couple of ZIP codes."
Marla died from COVID-19 last year. She was retired and had served as director of volunteers at a hospital in Pennsylvania.
As part of the Hero Art Project, emerging and established artists from around the world have now eternalized the smiles of more than 100 other U.S.-based first responders and health care workers killed by a pandemic they tried to stave off.
The artist Sutapa Biswas has works in the Tate collection and was the subject of two major retrospectives last year. But, she said recently, one of the highlights of her career was a piece that few people will ever see: an abstract mural of a night sky in a London psychiatric hospital.
Commissioned by the British nonprofit Hospital Rooms and finished last month, the deep blue work depicts a cascade of falling stars and covers an atrium wall at Springfield University Hospital in South London. At moments when mental health patients could be feeling trapped, Biswas said in an interview, her mural might “give them a sense of wonderment, a bit of hope.”
We said memorable—we didn’t say good.
Thumbnail: Fairgoers take pictures of Maurizio Cattelan's Comedian, for sale from Perrotin at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone.
What makes a person want to vandalize a cherished artwork? The factors often vary greatly.
Politics often play a role, as has been the case with the many recent protests led at museums by climate activists around the world. Personal interests often can become paramount as well, as they have with a variety of young provocateurs who have targeted others’ artworks, sometimes even as part of their own art practices.
In each case, however, the base motive remains the same: to raise a ruckus by disturbing the look or reputation of art people know all too well.