Dawoud Bey’s Unwavering Candor

The Chicago-Based Photographer’s Portraits Chronicle the American Experience

To understand how the past 40 years have revolutionized the way we see cities, look at the first and last chapters of a new book on the long and distinguished career of photographer Dawoud Bey. The first set of 35 mm, black-and-white photos, “Harlem, U.S.A.,” show the streets and storefronts of the eponymous neighborhood, offering astonishingly rich portraits of black Americans going about their daily lives in the 1970s. The second set, “Harlem Redux,” photographed in large format and in color, are stunningly framed depictions of the streets of Harlem …

The Fictional Maps That Fill Us With Wonder

From Kerouac to Brontë, Writers Have Imagined Intricate Geographies

“Maps are like good books,” writes historian of exploration Huw Lewis-Jones. They “are transporting: filled with wonder, possibility, adventure. … They allow us to escape to another place whenever we …

In an Ancient Indonesian City, Art Is Abundant—and Inclusive

How a Community Built a Thriving Cultural Scene on Cooperation, Cheap Tickets, and Affordable Merchandise

The city of Yogyakarta, which sits between the Indian Ocean and the volcanic mountain Merapi at the heart of Java island, has long been known as one of the arts …

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, …

Whatever Happened to the Little Red Caboose?

Manufacturing of the Iconic Train Car Stopped in 1981, But They Still Hold a Special Place in American Pop Culture

Americans have many icons. But those dealing with the exploration and expansion of the United States seem especially beloved: stagecoaches, steamboats, trains—and the railroad caboose. From the mid-19th century through …