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Watch: Stephen Colbert Discovers the Darker Side of Norman Rockwell

Biographer and art critic Deborah Solomon stopped by The Colbert Report this week to discuss her latest book, American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), which reveals that the American-as-apple-pie artist wrestled with severe depression and was consumed by a sense of inadequacy. The real scandal, for Colbert, is that Rockwell was not the political conservative that he has been made out to be. Among Solomon’s revelations is that he [gasp!] voted for Kennedy.

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Watch: IKEA, the Final Frontier

In the deepest reaches of an IKEA superstore, no one can hear you scream. OK, so they can hear you, but they cannot be bothered to listen, because who can heed the anguished cries of others when attempting to decide between the Söderhamn (in Replösa? in Isefall?) and the Härnösand, or maybe the Tidafors, but what about the Strandmon (does that still come in Skiftebo)? Grab your morning course of meatballs, pull up an Esbjörn, and treat yourself to Daniel Hubbard‘s dramatic reenactment of the lost-in-IKEA-by-way-of-Alfonso-Cuaron‘s-Gravity experience. We think it’s out of this world.

Experimental Animation Meets…Pottery?

It’s experimental animation! It’s pottery! Stop, you’re both right! Watch the creations of Devon, England-based Ramp Ceramics (that stands for “Roop & Al make Pots”) come alive in this film by Jim Le Fevre, Mike Paterson, and the aforementioned Rupert (“Roop”) and Alice (“Al”) Johnstone. The production was commissioned by the UK’s Crafts Council.

The Making of the Gingerbread White House

One of the benefits of being President of the United States that you won’t read about in civics textbooks is the opportunity to admire for at least four and as many as eight Decembers, a 300-pound, edible replica of your home without ever leaving it. (And because you are the President, no one can stop you from uprooting a fondant fir or two for a quick taste test.)

This year, the White House chronicled the creation of its gingerbread doppelgänger in this video, which compresses several weeks of work—led by Pastry Chef-in-Chief Bill Yosses—into less than two action-packed minutes. The finished product, now on view in the State Dining Room until what we imagine to be an epic New Year’s Eve demolition party, includes a functioning replica of the North Lawn fountain and not-to-scale models of the Obama family dogs, Bo and Sunny.

Watch: Sebastian Junger and Ron Haviv Talk ‘Testimony’

What is like to be on the front lines, armed with only a camera and surging adrenaline? Ron Haviv has 23 years worth of answers. The photojournalist’s work across 18 countries unfurls in “Testimony,” an exhibition on view through January 31 at New York’s Anastasia Photo gallery. “I believe and have dedicated my life to witnessing history in an attempt to create a body of evidence that holds people accountable,” Haviv has said. In this video, the first in a new series produced by the gallery, Haviv is joined by Sebastian Junger for a discussion about war, stories, pictures, emotions, and what happens when those things collide.

Fred Armisen Is MOCAtv’s Ambiance Man

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…Fred Armisen dressed like Beau Brummel and helping people to overcome awkward situations. Don’t be confused by the period dress or 1990s-Canadian-sitcom-level production values, this modern-day superhero is Ambiance Man, a new series created by artist Alix Lambert for MOCAtv, the YouTube channel of L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

Ambiance Man is a series about a superhero who fixes what we really need fixed in our day-to-day lives,” says Lambert, who previously teamed with MOCAtv—and Sam Chou of Toronto’s Style5—for CRIME: The Animated Series. “While most superheroes are focused on preventing the end of the world, Ambiance Man is focused on transforming the moments that feel like the end of the world.” The 13-episode series also features Jack Black, Jibz Cameron, Peter Macon, and Atsuko Okatsuka.


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Lippincott Asks, ‘What Is a Brand?’

It’s been seven decades since J. Gordon Lippincott and Walter P. Margulies set up shop as Lippincott & Margulies, and the brand strategy and design firm, now known simply as Lippincott and part of Marsh & McLennan-owned Oliver Wyman, is both celebrating its septuagenarian status and using the occasion to get introspective. In the below video, directed by Matt Kalish with creative director Brendan Murphy, the firm looks to its past and its future to ponder the eternal question, “What is a brand?”

Watch This: Iwan Baan on Building Homes in Unlikely Places

No starchitect’s portfolio is complete without a jaw-dropping image by Iwan Baan. The Dutch photographer stumbled into the architectural world in 2005, when he pitched his services to Rem Koolhaas. Baan got the gig and began what would become his first major project: documenting the construction of OMA’s China Central Television (CCTV) building and Herzog & de Meuron’s completed National Olympic Stadium, both in Beijing. Less than a decade later, the likes of Frank Gehry, SANAA, Morphosis, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro keep Baan on speed dial. “What I find really fascinating is what happens when architects and planners leave and these places become appropriated by people,” explained Baan in his talk last month in New York at TEDCity2.0. Watch to learn about his search for pop-up cities and villages built in the unlikeliest places using the most bizarre methods.

Bill Cunningham Plays Textile Detective in Paris

billAs if you needed further reason to procure a sturdy blue French workman’s coat, throw a couple of old-school cameras around your neck, and call everyone “child” this Halloween, check out Bill Cunningham‘s latest video report. The original street style photographer cast his sharp eye on the idea-laden Paris Fashion Week scene, and while the headline is netting (recall that Cunningham is himself a lapsed milliner), we think he buried the lead in spotting a flowery fabric on the Dries Van Noten runway that originated in the atelier of Charles Frederick Worth. Amusez-vous bien:
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Beautiful Plastic: Creating a Great Designer Toy

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Hold on to your Dunnys and Munnys, design fans, because Kidrobot founder Paul Budnitz is making time in his new life as a maker of beautiful bicycles to guide Smorkin’ Labbit lovers–and anyone else who is interested–through the process of creating a great designer toy. Budnitz has signed on to teach “Beautiful Plastic: Creating a Great Designer Toy,” an online course that launches October 16 through Skillshare.

“The goal of the class is to help artists sketch their own toy,” Budnitz tells us. “I talk about the basic history of designer toys, since it’s important to know the medium in which you’re working. There’s also a discussion about appropriation and juxtaposition, two elements of design that are found in most good art (and toys), and some ideas of how to apply this to your own toy.” And of course, he’ll offer plenty of pointers on how to design and draw a toy, with an eye to getting it off the page and into into production.
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