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Everyone has seen The Old Guitarist. It’s one of those paintings, like The Mona Lisa or Starry Night or The Persistence of Memory, that has survived time and trends and somehow made it into the Western cultural subconscious – people who don’t like or know anything about art still vaguely recognize it. If you’d like to see The Old Guitarist in person (and you should, even if security tells you not to), the painting hangs among the walls of the Art Institute of Chicago. It’s something else.

The subject matter is simple: an old, blind beggar playing a guitar in rags on a Barcelona street. But what’s noticeable is how the color palette plays to the subject matter, a gradient of blues that sets the tone of the painting. It’s not the only one: Between 1901 and 1904, Pablo Picasso painted several works with a similar eye that are still being examined today – in fact, just this week, it was revealed that infrared technology had uncovered another layer in 1901’s The Blue Room.

Contemporary critics and the public, however, did not receive these paintings warmly. The beggars and prostitutes of his art soured crowds that had been showing a great interest in his work just a year before. We know it now as Picasso’s Blue Period, a dark layover in the artist’s life.

So you’ve got one of the great artists of his time making challenging works – some inarguably among his best – in a state of desperation and nobody’s noticing. This is a post about art, sure, but it’s also about sports. And no one is painting a more desperate picture in the art of motorcycle racing right now than Jorge Lorenzo.

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George Clooney’s Lecturing, Sanitized Vision of WWII…and Art

Everyone looks good in The Monuments Men. I think that’s part of the perk and charm of being in a George Clooney movie. He’ll crop your crew cut just right, perfectly light your skin’s aging complexion. He’ll make you feel chummy and invincible on set. That would all be fine if his latest directorial effort weren’t a World War II film. Instead of peril and suspense, you get silly vignettes of middle-aged veterans motoring along to their own internal River Kwai March. There’s a dissonance between the movie Clooney has made and the one we expect to see. Even the bullet wounds shed little blood. Read More

A lot has changed for Jay-Z since 2011’s Watch the Throne, which serves as social commentary from the top wrapped in a luxury item inventory. His empire has grown tentacles, his influence growing almost on a daily basis. The Brooklyn Nets opened their home at the Barclays Center. Then, he sold his share of the team so he could represent athletes with Roc Nation. Even Magna Carta Holy Grail is a record that is more business than personal. The marketing scheme surrounding the album was based on an app which only Samsung Galaxy owners could download on Independence Day – all others had to wait until July 9th. This is Jay-Z cementing his brand while increasing his bottom line. But, all is not golden at the top of the world.

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