Repainting History in Technicolor

Esiri Erheriene-Essi’s 'Familiar Strangers' Finds New Recognition in Photographs of the Mid-Century African Diaspora

The earliest colored photographs were fragile black-and-white daguerreotypes, hand-painted with a watercolor technique. The task was laborious, not to mention risky, because the plates were so easily damaged. But the result, a cross between painting and photograph, gave the 19th-century pictures a new level of verisimilitude.

Today, London-born and Amsterdam-based painter Esiri Erheriene-Essi pursues a different sort of visual fidelity when she transforms archival mid-century snapshots of the African diaspora through oil paint and often xerox transfer, a graphic technique she uses to layer images onto the background of her …

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 …

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 …