Painter Lucien Freud, known for his sumptuous yet disturbing portraits, died on July 22. “The relationship between sitter and painter, in [Freud’s] work, overturned traditional portraiture,” wrote the New York Times, and the effects of his influence can be seen today in every art school studio.
Shepard Fairey, the American graffiti artist best known for his unofficial poster, “Hope,” for the 2008 Obama Campaign, was beaten up in Copenhagen, Denmark, over the erection of his new mural in the city. According to the Guardian, the mural was defaced with epithets like “Go home, Yankee Hipster” within a day of its unveiling, and over the following weekend, Fairey and a friend were targeted at a Danish nightclub and assaulted. The mural commemorates a long-standing “youth house” which was demolished in 2007. According to Fairey, the intention of the work has been misunderstood as celebrating the destruction of the building itself. Fairey chose not to file a police report or press charges after the attack.
Brooklyn artist Kyle McDonald is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service for his project “People Staring at Computers 2011.” The work involved McDonald installing custom software on over a thousand Apple store computers, which in turn took photographs of the computer’s users, and then revealed to them their own photo and photos of other users. The Secret Service, which appeared at McDonald’s door a mere two days of the project was installed, confiscated his laptops, several flash drives and an iPod and are reportedly looking to charge him under US Code 18/1030, shorthand for “computer fraud and related activities.” McDonald has retained the services of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and is no longer speaking to media about his current legal case.
Phillip Levine, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award Winner best known for his “depiction of blue-collar life,” was named the new Poet Laureate of the United States on August 10. In an interview with NPR’s David Greene, Levine spoke of growing up in Detroit and working in automobile factories throughout his youth. Levine has since lived in Iowa, California and New York, but has revisited his time in the factories through his poetry. In addition to the title, Levine will receive a $35,000 stipend for his term, as well as the “maximum freedom to work on [his] own projects.” Levine joins the ranks of poets Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Lowell, Robert Penn Warren, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Frost. Levine will assume his duties in October.