What's on tap in this edition of Weekend Reads? Great art, fallen stars, malleable Marxists, sex and drugs—aka the ususal roundup of deep dives from around the web.
An Homage to Swinging London’s Most Decadent Art Dealer — Hyperallergic has a scintillating piece about Robert Fraser, the now mostly forgotten dealer whose iconoclastic gallery—the subject of a new Pace London show—epitomized British art-world cool during the ‘60s and whose raucous, drug-fueled lifestyle (which ended in his death from AIDS) is best captured by Richard Hamilton’s painting Swingeing London 67, depicting Fraser and Mick Jagger shielding their faces while being carted off following the infamous police raid of Keith Richards’s house that turned up heaps of heroin and a naked Marianne Faithful wrapped in a carpet like a sozzled enchilada. (Hyperallergic)
Revealing a Lost World of Art – When the photography connoisseurs Ken and Jenny Jacobson bought a little box at auction about a decade ago that had the word “Venice” inscribed on the cover they found it contained something extraordinary: 188 daguerreotypes accumulated by none other than the Victorian art critic John Ruskin, “the greatest eye in Europe” who it turns out enlisted numerous photo “valets” to document the city that he so famously immortalized in The Stones of Venice, capturing its nobly rumpled architecture in extraordinary and fastidious images that sound like the equivalent of the world’s greatest guided tour. (FT)
Telling Killing Jokes About the U.S., One After the Other — The New York Times’s Jori Finkel profiles the great American artist William Pope.L on the occasion of his MOCA show, giving him a new sobriquet (“the man with the perplexing last name”) and noting his casual penchant for saying “toodleloo” while summoning insights from curators into the importance of his widely varied, utterly committed, and too-little-known career. (NYT)
Two Marxist Artists Walk Into an Automobile Factory — In a long and thoughtful piece on the once-beleaguered Detroit Institute of Art’s exhibition ”Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit,” the critic Ben Davis digs deep into the nexus of power and money that led the left-wing Mexican artists to the city so that Rivera could immortalize arch-capitalist Henry Ford with an epic 1932 mural, Detroit Industry—a project that Kahlo seems to have enjoyed trying to sabotage, once for instance asking the notoriously anti-semetic, pro-Nazi Ford whether he was jewish. (Artnet)
The Rise and Fall of a Would-Be Art Hero — The Daily Mail has an in-depth feature on the late-career resurgence of Chuck Connelly—the ‘80s painter best known as the inspiration for Nick Nolte’s unforgettable self-destructive artist in Martin Scorsese’s Life Lessons—that is certainly over-charitable toward his messy daubs but reveals fascinating art-market anecdotes, such as when the eminent dealer Michael Werner dropped him with the perceptive words "I'm looking for the next great American modern artist you're not it.” (Daily Mail)