Who is the Bad Art Freud?

Art and the art of a lake full of ants.

Sam Knight has a long but gripping New Yorker story about the protracted effort by a pseudonymous collector to authenticate what he believes to be an unfinished Lucian Freud painting. Dalya Alberge covered the basic facts in The Guardian last November in seven thousand fewer words, but Knight is less interested in the authentication of this particular painting than he is in the circumbendibus1 of art authentication in general, where “truth” and “facts” don’t always overlap and some opinions constitute new facts that can overrule mere historical reality. A curious aspect of this case is that the painting itself is bad. But is it valuable anyway, because the artist purportedly tried to disavow it due to spite? Is there a Francis Bacon connection? Did Freud simply try to copy a frame from Eadweard Muybridge and fail? Clearly yes, to the last one at least.

Charlie Warzel Galaxy Brained about “Matthew B. Crawford’s 2009 best seller, Shop Class as Soulcraft,” which sounds like Zen and the the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Taylor’s Version) in its urging us to engage with the physical reality of things rather than getting lost in our frictionless technology (Crawford), our unmoored philosophical inquiries (Pirsig), or our annoying iPhones (Warzel), lest we wind up unable to fix a car (Crawford), locked in the ECT ward (Pirsig), or mad at our annoying iPhones (Warzel). It has a bit of Charlie’s trademark “just emerged soft and blinking from my egg” rhetorical quality but I do hope he’s reaching the people who would otherwise fall victim to what he accurately calls “Builder Brain.”

And in a spontaneous confluence of newsletter themes, on the same “engaging with the material world” vibe Blackbird Spyplane interviewed San Francisco jawnsmith Evan Kinori, who reports feeling ”a great deal of weight making physical product.”

You know what else has a great deal of weight?2 The 660-ton tuned mass damper mounted in the 87th through 92nd floors of Taiwan’s Taipei 101 tower, which swayed about eight inches during Sunday’s 6.93 magnitude earthquake. I guess building a half kilometer tall tower directly on top of an active fault does take huge balls.

Speaking of balls, Bloomberg’s Madison Muller reports that 2021’s Hot Vax Summer was followed by: a lot of syphilis.

The number of new syphilis infections surged 26% between 2020 and 2021... Rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea also increased from 2020 to 2021, with the number of these three common infections increasing 4.4% overall last year. 

The right to privacy is vague and easily rejected when balanced against a greater right or potential harm, particularly when positioned against supposed murder. The right to choose, though a valuable recognition of a pregnant person’s agency, is so euphemistic that it has been neatly co-opted by anti-vaccine and anti-mask crusaders, many of whom oppose abortion…

From now on, we who fight for reproductive freedom must announce our cause in the clearest terms: every impregnatable person has the right to not be pregnant.

Thanks, Ants… Thants: In the Washington Post, Dino Grandoni reports that scientists, who are perpetually scurrying around counting things and trying to creep us all out, have calculated that there are twenty quadrillion ants on earth.

“It’s unimaginable,” Patrick Schultheiss, a lead author on the study who is now a researcher at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in a Zoom interview. “We simply cannot imagine 20 quadrillion ants in one pile, for example. It just doesn’t work.”

Oh really, Patrick? Cannot we? I think you’ll find that we can, and shall, and must.

  • Wolfram Alpha informs us that 2x10¹⁶ ants have a volume of 1.1x10¹⁰ cubic feet. Is this right? I don’t know! If you want to argue about the average volume of an ant, I am standing by to hear your opinions. But I bet it’s around the right order of magnitude at least. Anyway that works out to about 252,525 acre-feet of ants.

  • Wikipedia says that Eagle Lake in Maine’s Allagash Wilderness Waterway is about 220,866 acre-feet in volume.

So, imagine a medium-sized Maine lake full of ants. Look at that, we did it in only two steps. Don’t test me Patrick, I can imagine things you can’t even… imagine.

If you were either media-adjacent or had any other office job in 2014, you remember the cultural juggernaut that was Season One of Serial. If not, Jon Allsop recapped the previouslies in CJR. Today Adnan is finally out of jail, and Season One just got a thirteenth episode. Plink, plink, plink, plink…4

As Delaware preps for the next batch of DeSantis kidnapping victims, Josh Marshall wonders: who is Perla? Salesforce put Quip in Slack. Men will literally buy Alpha Pro-Solve Xtreme for Men rather than go to therapy. Kiwi Korner: Wellington criminology lecturer and emo softboi Ti Lamusse got mad online. Way beyond meat. Hat owner Bryan Goldberg will close Input entirely, just days after I specifically mentioned how good it is, and also lay off 10 Mic staffers. So, that sucks. Cool hat though. 👍

Today in Crabs:

Today’s Song: Jockstrap, “Neon”

~ this is a global-tel link prepaid call from — tabs ~

Every t-shirt comes with an exclusive holographic Quitbow sticker. Get Yours »»»

Join the conversation

or to participate.