Posts from the “Art and Design” Category

Real Women in Photographs

Posted on February 10, 2014

Photo: Getty Images via The New York Times

Photo: Getty Images via The New York Times

The typical stock images of women have been stereotypes. There’s the serious, bespectacled businesswoman in a suit, the smiling mother pouring her children milk, or the frazzled, have-it-all mom in a suit who has a cell phone in one hand and a baby in the other. But there’s rarely anything beyond those extremes in advertisements and magazines.

Facebook executive and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg thinks this is hurting women and today she’ll announce a partnership with Getty Images to present a collection of stock pictures that present women and families in more empowering ways. Called the Lean In Collection, the photos include female surgeons, hunters and soldiers, as well as skateboarding girls and hair-braiding dads.

Sandberg told The New York Times:

“When we see images of women and girls and men, they often fall into the stereotypes that we’re trying to overcome, and you can’t be what you can’t see.”

According to today’s NYT story:

The partnership comes during a renewed national conversation about women and work, spurred in part by the success of Ms. Sandberg’s book, “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead,” and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s possible presidential campaign. Its message has the potential to reach a wide area of society, through Getty’s 2.4 million customers who pull from its library of 150 million images.

There is an appetite for the images: The three most-searched terms in Getty’s image database are “women,” “business” and “family.”

“One of the quickest ways to make people think differently about something is to change the visuals around it,” said Cindy Gallop, who started the United States branch of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, the advertising agency. “The thing about these images is they work on an unconscious level to reinforce what people think people should be like.”

The partnership is a way for Lean In to broaden its reach after criticism that Ms. Sandberg’s advice is relevant only to women in corporate America and that she places the burden of breaking through stereotypes on individual women instead of on workplaces and society.

A portion of the proceeds from sales of these images will go toward Getty grants for images showing female empowerment and toward the mission of, a source of inspiration and empowerment for women seeking to fulfill their ambitions.

What sort of images would you like to see in this collection? Do you think visuals are enough to change the way people view women and family? Why or why not? And in what sort of ways do you think that groups like can or should support women?


Palais Garnier: Fifth Most-Visited Paris Monument

Posted on February 7, 2014

Photo: Paige Bowers

Photo: Paige Bowers

A recent report in the French newspaper Les Echos said that the Palais Garnier was the fifth most-visited monument in Paris during 2013. There has been a 44 percent increase in visits to the building since 2010, in part because of its increasing number of events and exhibits. Known as the backdrop for the novel and Broadway musical The Phantom of the Opera, the Opera Garnier still stages operas and ballets as well as concerts with the occasional pop star like George Michael. But it also has one of the most rich and remarkable archives I’ve ever seen, the contents of which serve as an endless source of wonder for nerds like me and as the basis for many excellent exhibitions.

Here is a photo from a recent costume exhibit it had:

2013-10-17 19.19.18

Have you ever been to the Palais Garnier? If so, what did you think of it? If not, you should definitely put this building on your must-see list if you ever plan a trip to Paris.

Monuments Men

Posted on February 6, 2014



I’ve been working on an item about art restitution that’s tied to the recent release of “The Monuments Men,” the real-life story of international art experts sent to recover and return artworks stolen by the Nazis during World War II. The piece is also tied to the recent sale of Camille Pissarro’s impressionist masterpiece, Boulevard Montmartre, matinee de printemps (pictured above). Impressionist paintings have an enduring allure, but this one sold yesterday for $32.1 million in London in part because of its restitution backstory. It was once owned by Max Silberberg, a Jewish industrialist who was forced by the Nazis to sell his collection of 19th and 20th century art. Silberberg later died in the Holocaust and it took his family decades to find his prized Pissarro.

Governments are among the organizations dedicated to unearthing pilfered pieces such as these. Auction houses such as Sotheby’s also have their own restitution groups dedicated to researching all works consigned to them that were created prior to 1945 and working with a variety of interest groups to broker deals on this art.

Often there are really two victims: the person from whom it was stolen and the institution or person who bought it in good faith,” Sotheby’s specialist Philip Hook told The Wall Street Journal recently.

I’m looking forward to seeing Monuments Men soon. What about you?


For more on this topic:

*Here’s a feature about why restitution had such cinematic appeal.

*Here’s a story about how Robert Edsel, author of The Monuments Men, turned his obsession into a movie.

*Here’s TIME Magazine’s review of that movie.

*Here’s an item a recent auction involving sales of restituted artwork unearthed by the actual Monuments Men.

*Here’s an interesting read about how a slice of Edward, Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson’s wedding cake was auctioned off for $29,000.



World War I and Veterans Day

Posted on November 11, 2013



World War I ended on November 11, 1918 and a year later President Woodrow Wilson honored the nation’s veterans with the first Armistice Day. Wilson said that the holiday, now known as Veterans Day, would give people cause to reflect on “the heroism of those who died in the country’s service . . . because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

As we pause to reflect on the sacrifices of American service men and women, Europe prepares for the centennial of “the war to end all wars.” Yesterday, The New York Times featured a travel piece about the “rich tapestry of events” planned at museums and battlefields such as Verdun. The BBC reported that war buffs will lead to big business in places like Ypres, Belgium, which is seeing a boom in hotel construction and memorabilia. And, various groups have begun collecting and digitizing pictures, letters, postcards and other souvenirs from the conflict in order to explain its long-term impact on the modern world.

Curious about World War I? There has been a library’s worth of books written on the subject. But here are ten tomes to get you started:

1. The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before The War by Barbara Tuchman: Tuchman explores the quarter-century before the war’s outbreak, tackling the haves and the have-nots, the decline of the Edwardian aristocracy, the music of Richard Strauss and Igor Stravinsky, the Dreyfus Affair and more.

2. The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark: Clark looks at the events and relationships that led Europe and the world into a brutal conflict.

3. The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 by Margaret MacMillan: MacMillan’s recently published history is another exploration of the march toward war, exploring how a continent awash in peace and prosperity could wind up in a fight that transformed the modern world.

4. The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman: This beautifully written, Pulitzer Prize-winning classic recounts in vivid detail the very first month of fighting, showing how it shaped the course of the entire war.

5. Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War by Max Hastings: Hastings blames Germany for the war’s outbreak and argues that the country’s defeat was vital to the freedom of Europe.

6. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque: Billed as “the greatest war novel of all time,” it is the fictional account of a German soldier who faces the war’s horrors and vows to fight against the hate that has meaninglessly pit him against other young men of his generation.

7. To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion 1914-1918 by Adam Hochschild: Hochschild’s New York Times-bestseller asks why so many nations got swept up into the violence of the war, why cooler heads couldn’t prevail, and whether we can avoid repeating history.

8. The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 by Alistair Horne: Horne looks at the ten-month battle that claimed the lives of 700,000 men, showing how the fight was less about defeating the enemy and more about bleeding him to death.

9. The Great War: July 1, 1916. The First Day of the Battle of the Somme by Joe Sacco: Sacco, a cartoonist, depicts one of the most infamous days in the war wordlessly with this 24-foot-long panoramic drawing.

10. Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed The World by Margaret MacMillan: MacMillan looks at the men and women who converged on Paris after the war in order to shape the peace.

Again, this is by no means a comprehensive list of the World War I-related titles out there. Anything I missed that you love? If so, what is it and what makes it great? Please let me know in comments. Or, share your thoughts about what Veterans Day means to you.


Posted on October 23, 2013



My younger sister was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis late last year. Shortly after her diagnosis, I signed up for two M.S. fundraising walks, one in Baton Rouge, the other in New Orleans. I was beyond grateful to the people who sponsored me on these walks because I was so sad about what my sister faces on a daily basis. I can’t make her ongoing pain and struggles easier (which is always frustrating for someone as anal and eager to please as I am), but I can walk in her name to raise money so that talented scientists and doctors can work to find a cure.

If you don’t know what M.S. is, here are some facts:

* It’s a chronic and often disabling disease of the central nervous system.

* The disease occurs when the immune system attacks the myelin (or fatty protective tissue) that surrounds nerves, damaging it and the nerves themselves. When the myelin is attacked and scarred, nerve impulses are interrupted or distorted.

* Person to person, symptoms vary and range from numbness in the limbs to paralysis and loss of vision.

* There are treatments that can slow the progression of the disease and help people live satisfying, productive lives. But  to date, there is nothing that can wipe it out altogether.

Having said all this and being totally aware of my sister’s struggles, I get up every day and look for reasons to be hopeful. She’s handling her diagnosis with humor (most of the time) and tries to find ways to manage her limits, lessen her stress and ask for help when she needs it. Although I am fully aware that she has bad, debilitating days, and hate that for her, I’m tickled beyond words that she has begun to paint again. Above is one of her works-in-progress, an impressionistic triptych of flowers in a field. She began this piece a few hours ago, after selling two of them last night on Facebook.

Disclaimer: I bought one of those two paintings. I’m a proud big sister. What can I say? Isn’t her work gorgeous?

To close, if you would like to get involved with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, here are ways you can help.

If biking and walking and other physical events are not your cup of tea, please consider making a donation to NMSS, either as a gift to support general research and education, or one to honor my sister, Katherine Warren.

Happy Halloween

Posted on October 31, 2012


There will probably be a few vampires cruising for candy tonight. That’s fine with me as long as they don’t pull any of that “I want to suck your blood” business. Blood sucking threats are creepy, after all.

For the ghoulish among you, here are a few Halloween-related links: “The Truth About Nepal’s Blood-Drinking Festivals

Los Angeles Times: “Sandy Takes Toll on Halloween Events, Could Disrupt Candy Sales “Halloween Pumpkin Art: Carving the Zombie Apocalypse

Baltimore Sun’s Darkroom: “Retro Halloween Photos Taken in Maryland Through The Years “Too Scary, Too Sexy: Adults Are Hijacking Halloween “Killing Sexy Halloween: The Ethical and Practical Complications “Halloween Costume Trends for 2012

Georges Melies

Posted on October 25, 2012

Last night I finally got around to watching “Hugo”, the Martin Scorsese film based on the Brian Selznick novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.” Hugo is a 12-year-old orphan boy who lives in the Montparnasse train station, where he keeps all its clocks running smoothly. In the urchin’s spare time, he repairs a broken wind-up man that his father found. Stealing odds and ends that could mend this mechanical person, Hugo is nabbed by a toy store owner in the train station who asks him to empty his pockets and hand over the contents. Outside of the wheels and gears and springs Hugo has collected, there is a notebook that used to belong to his father. In the notebook are sketches of the wind-up man and ideas on how to fix him. The toy store owner leafs through the pages and becomes disturbed by what he sees, taking the notebook and threatening to burn it.

Why the fuss? Turns out the toy store owner is the real-life filmmaker Georges Melies, who had been forgotten by the French by the time this movie takes place. Melies, the son of a shoemaker, was known as an innovator in his prime, using special effects, hand-colored frames and dream-like sequences in his work. But as his works got more ambitious, the French got preoccupied with other things — like World War I — and so he went bankrupt and faded into obscurity. Hugo’s efforts to fix the wind-up man heal Melies too and the film ends with a moving retrospective of his work.

Filmed in 3D and gorgeous, the movie won 5 Academy Awards. Here’s a scene from the film:

The Alliance Francaise d’Atlanta is honoring Melies with a showing of some of his films. For more information, or to donate, please visit Power To Give for a more detailed description of this very special project.