What Do Grandma Moses and Michelangelo Have in Common?

One Peaked Late. The Other Peaked Early. Both Were Artistic Geniuses.

“Creativity takes courage,” at least according to Henri Matisse. If that’s the case, then at what point in their lives are artists most creative? When they’re young, bold, and taking risks? Or does creativity blossom over time, with practice and life experience? On the one hand, there’s Mary Shelley, who was just 21 when her landmark gothic horror novel Frankenstein was published.

On the other, there’s Matisse himself, whose later work—he continued to make art up until his death at 84—is considered by many to be his finest. In advance …

What Happens When Stem Cell Science and Performance Art Collide?

How Avant-Garde Experimenters Are Deploying the Tools of Science

In 2007, the Australian performance artist Stelarc started growing an extra ear on his left arm through a series of operations that are still ongoing. The ear is actually made …

How to Find the Paul McCartney to Your John Lennon

You Can’t Engineer Great Collaboration, Says Joshua Wolf Shenk. But Brilliant Creative Pairs Have a Few Things in Common.

Most of us have been buoyed by synergy or thrived off the energy of another person. We know that chemistry is something that exists between certain individuals—like, say, John Lennon …

That Time Mozart Jammed with Michael Jackson

Which Creative Greats Would You Pick for a Dream Collaboration?

Even as teenagers, John Lennon and Paul McCartney saw themselves as “the next great songwriting team.” Sitting in McCartney’s living room with their guitars, they jotted down ideas in a …

California’s Successful Dilettantes

The State Leads In Innovation Because It Welcomes Hippies, Eccentrics, and the Aimless

American tinkering, which is the engine of American innovation, traces its roots way back to the Founding Fathers. But contemporary American tinkering owes a lot to the California counterculture, the …

Name That Tune: Da-Da-Da-DUM

Matthew Guerrieri On Beethoven's Fifth and the Curious Workings of Genius

They may be the most easily recognizable four notes of music ever composed, but the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony confounds orchestras and conductors with its very notation: a rest …