A story a few months ago about a woman who sold her press kit and invitation to Takashi Murakami’s exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles for a few hundred dollars had us kicking ourselves for tossing ours. In fact, some gallery and museum invitations can become quite collectible, especially ones designed by artists. Two of our favorites lately: the 4 1/2-inch replica of Jeff Koons’s sculpture Cracked Egg (Red) sent out by the L.A. County Museum for the opening of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (inside was a strip printed “BCAM Born. 02.09.08”) and the invite to Stefan Sagmeister’s recent show at Deitch Projects in New York, which came in the form of a banana, the information printed on Chiquita-like stickers. Fantastic…until it rotted.
Classical music icons have generally come out of Europe, Asia, or the hallowed halls of New York conservatories. Which makes it all the more exceptional that the most dynamic and lauded new force on the world’s podiums should hail from Venezuela. Gustavo Dudamel is a leaping, pulsing, joyous presence, capable of infusing more raw emotion into his assured, sweeping baton work than conductors twice his age. All of 26 years old, he takes over the directorship of the Los Angeles Philharmonic next year, when its reigning dynamo, Esa-Pekka Salonen, steps down.
Dudamel made his name leading the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, a group of 15- to 25-year-old performers who are, like Dudamel, products of the country’s music program, El Sistema. His blood-and-guts style, which scored him top prize at the 2004 Mahler conducting competition, has won over musicians, critics, and the public. If you’ve never heard Dudamel lead his swaying band of young Venezuelans in Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, you’ll be amazed at what youth can do with inspiration. In May Dudamel and the Bolivar-ios release a new CD of Latin American masterworks as well as Bernstein’s “Mambo,” one of their signature pieces.
As he prepares to take the helm in L.A., Dudamel won’t just conduct more dates next season. He’s also busy creating a community youth orchestra program for the neighborhoods around Walt Disney Concert Hall—like the one that first put a violin into his gifted hands. Oh, and in July he’ll slip in a production of La Bohème at Milan’s La Scala, celebrating Puccini’s 150th birthday. A true Bernstein 2.0? Who are we to argue?
Longtime photography specialist James Danziger is obsessed with images. He has run a New York gallery (presently called Danziger Projects) for much of the past 20 years and served as the U.S. director of the Magnum Photos agency. These days he spends a lot of time on photo blogs, including his own, TheYearInPictures.net. Blogs are an amazing resource for discovering talent and keeping up with news in the photo world. Danziger shares five of his favorites.
- CONSCIENTIOUS What started out in 2002 as a hobby for German-born research scientist Jörg Colberg has turned into the grandfather of photo blogs. It deals with contemporary fine art photography, but Colberg is really a champion of the unknown and unrepresented. Generous in its links, geographically diverse in its picks, Conscientious is a trusted pipeline to all that’s new and good in the photo world. jmcolberg.com/weblog
- PDN PULSE Produced by Photo District News, the leading trade magazine, this blog reports on equipment, business, art, and issues such as copyright and usage. Here you’ll also see great examples of how pictures are shown a particular way in one magazine and are cropped or altered by another for a totally different effect. The blog may not look sexy, but its inside scoop on all things pertaining to photography quickly becomes addictive. pdnpulse.com
- I ♥ PHOTOGRAPH With pictures that combine the energy of Flickr and artistic quality control, this curated blog is updated every day by Laurel Ptak. It’s known for visually and conceptually challenging work, mostly by young and unknown photographers. Many are questioning the medium and how we see photography in a digital world, where so many of our experiences are mediated by a computer screen. iheartphotograph.blogspot.com
- THE SARTORIALIST This well-known blog is run by Scott Schuman, a great photographer himself. He records superstylish men and women on the streets of the world’s fashion capitals. Shooting digitally, he posts his photographs on the site, which is visited by more than 70,000 people a day. Last year Time magazine named The Sartorialist to its Style & Design 100, and this winter I organized a successful show of Schuman’s blog photographs in my gallery. thesartorialist.com
- ALEC SOTH Though he posted for only a year, Alec Soth, a young Magnum photographer now represented by powerhouse gallery Gagosian, wrote one of the most interesting, knowledgeable, and eclectic photo blogs. Mixing the personal and the professional, Soth gives an inside view of his day and what goes through an artist’s head when he’s at the top of his game. Fortunately, it is still easily accessible and feels completely timeless. alecsoth.com/blog