Why Oscar Wilde’s Life Was a Work of Art

More Than a Century After His Death, a Paris Exhibition Illuminates Both the Tawdry and the Transcendent

The French have always loved Oscar Wilde, just as he always loved them. Long before Britain sent him to jail for enjoying sex with other males in 1895, he made Paris his spiritual home. He wrote the erotic tragedy Salomé (1892) in French, but the Examiner of Plays in London banned it after deeming it “half Biblical, half pornographic.” Much later, when he left prison in May 1897, he had to escape London, since his reputation there was ruined. So he crossed the Channel to Paris, where he resided, …

How the Skull Is an Ally in Art

When the Ultimate Symbol of Death Serves as Muse, It Can Force Us to Confront Our Own Mortality

You walk through the darkness of the crypt, with choral music playing from hidden speakers. All around you, human bones are arranged in patterns, tiling the walls, divided by femurs, …

Interpreting the New History of the Old West

Don’t Shed a Tear That the 19th-Century Construct of the American West Is Riding off Into the Sunset

Not too long ago, historians of the American West joined their artistic brethren in celebrating what we now think of as the “Old West.” For historians and artists, the “winning …

My California

In Novelist Edan Lepucki’s Home State, the History Is Fictional, the Terrain Is Otherworldly, and the Population Is United by Difference

In the story about myself, I was born in Santa Monica, in a rental on Sunset Ave. (yes, Avenue, not Boulevard). Early February, which is a bleak month elsewhere, but …

Ed Ruscha’s Wild West

For 50 Years and Counting, the Artist Has Reinterpreted What the West Means to America

In 1956, at the age of 18, Edward Joseph Ruscha IV left his home in Oklahoma and drove a 1950 Ford sedan to Los Angeles, where he hoped to attend …

Ed Ruscha and the Art of Being in Los Angeles

The Artist Captures the Deeply Two-Dimensional City Like No One Else

Ed Ruscha is expected to reappear in Los Angeles this summer, after having been absent for a decade. Ruscha is the artist who famously didn’t leave, when leaving L.A. for …