Warhol: The Bellwether of the Art Market

The Economist has just released a nice photo slideshow looking back at the transformative work of Andy Warhol. In five quick minutes, Sarah Thornton (the co-author of The Economist’s new report on the art market) gives you a quick feel for how Warhol changed the contemporary art scene, the role of the artist, and the size/mechanics of the lucrative art market. In 2007, at the height of the art boom, Warhol remained the highest grossing artist at auction, a testament to his lasting influence on the art world. Thanks Chris for the tip!

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Royal Society Launches Web Site Celebrating 350 Years of Science

A quick mention: The Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science, will celebrate next year its 350th anniversary. To mark the occasion, a team of scientists and historians have launched a new web site called “Trailblazing,” and it essentially lets you take a virtual tour through three and a half centuries of scientific discovery (1660-2010). Moving at your own pace, you can review key scientific discoveries (some of them famous, some of them less so) and read corresponding commentary on each one. Quite nicely, all of the commentary can be downloaded via one big PDF file. (It runs about 110 pages long.)

Thanks to Phantom Engineer for the tip here. And thanks all for the many leads I’ve received lately. They’re all really appreciated, and they frankly make the site much better. Keep ’em coming.

Making Money By Giving Your Movie Away (But How Much?)

Nina Paley created some buzz earlier this year when she decided to give her award-winning animated film, Sita Sings the Blues, to the public, releasing it under a Creative Commons license. This was another test of the concept that artists can make money by giving their work away. Today, The Wall Street Journal gives an accounting of how this theory played out in practice. Here’s how things break down:

  • Total donations from people who appreciate her giving out free content: $23,000
  • Profits from her online store which sells merchandise and DVDs: $19,000
  • Theatrical distribution revenues: $3,000 (out of total box office tally of $22,350)
  • Additional DVD distribution: $3,000
  • Broadcast television distribution: $3,000
  • Revenue from Central Cinema in Seattle which showed the film: $4,000
  • The grand total: $55,000

As the WSJ notes, these numbers don’t reflect the money she spent making the film . (Paley puts the number at $150,000 in hard costs.) They also don’t account for the indirect revenue that she will generate down the line. But putting Sita Sings the Blues in front of so many people, the world now knows a lot more about Nina Paley and her talents. I have to believe that she can trade on that (if she wants to) whenever she agrees to direct a film, or accepts a speaking engagement. The WSJ equation doesn’t take this piece into account (it’s admittedly hard to measure), but it’s probably the most important part of the overall analysis.

You can download Sita Sings the Blues here, watch it on YouTube here, or find it in our collection of Free Movies Online.

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How I Sold My Book by Giving It Away: You should all see this separate post by Seth Harwood. It focuses on similar issues, but translated to the book world.

Stanford Online Writing Courses – The Winter Lineup

A quick fyi: On Monday morning (8:30 am California time), Stanford Continuing Studies opens up registration for its winter lineup of online writing courses. Offered in partnership with the Stanford Creative Writing Program (one of the most distinguished writing programs in the country), these online courses give beginning and advanced writers, no matter where they live, the chance to refine their craft with gifted writing instructors. As you will see, there are a couple of courses offered in conjunction with The New York Times. The idea here is that you’ll learn writing from a Stanford writing instructor and then get your work reviewed by a New York Times book critic/writer. Quite a perk. And the courses sell out quickly. For more information, click here, or separately check out the FAQ and the testimonials.

Caveat emptor: These classes are not free, and I helped set them up. So while I wholeheartedly believe in these courses, you can take my views with a grain of salt.

Hitchcock’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” Take 1

During his Hollywood golden years, Alfred Hitchcock released The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day. This was actually his second time around the block with the film. Before Hitchcock came to America, he directed another version of the movie with Peter Lorre, and you can catch this 1934 British version above. For more Hitchcock films, please see our collection of 20 Free Hitchcock Movies Online.

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T.S. Eliot Reads The Waste Land

T.S. Eliot’s 1922 poem, The Waste Land, is often considered one of the great poems of the 20th century. Above, you can listen to Eliot himself reading his modernist masterpiece (text here). And, if you want more, how about Eliot reading The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, another major work, against the backdrop of Portishead? Sacrilege, I know.

You can find both poems in our extensive Free Audio Book collection, which contains hundreds of classic works. Fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. It’s all there, and all free.

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Three Free Luis Buñuel Films

bunuelA quick note for US readers: Right now, you can find three films by Luis Buñuel, the great Spanish (later turned Mexican) director. The films, presented by theauteurs.com, include Death in the Garden (1956) and two cinematic works from his earlier surreal period: Un chien andalou (1929) and L’âge d’or (1930). These films are (somewhat ironically) available only to a US audience. But if you live outside the US, you can find many more free films in our Free Movie Collection. As a quick side note, this collection was the jumping-off point for a short interview that I did with Jon Gordon, the host of the public radio show, Future Tense. You can listen to it below, or catch it here. Have a good Thanksgiving.

Your Favorite TED Talk Ever?

What’s the best TED Talk ever? That’s the little debate taking place on Reddit.com, and the answer is not obvious, seeing that TED now has over 500 talks available in its archive. (You can find a constantly updated list of every TED Talk in a Google spreadsheet here.)

Now, what are some of the Reddit favorites? Here are five talks that get frequent mentions.

Meanwhile, it’s worth mentioning that TED keeps its own running list of its 10 most popular talks. Some good ones here. And now your turn. Tell us your favorites in the comments below, and don’t be shy.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.