One candidate for the world’s shortest play is The Exile, by Tristan Bernard.
The curtain rises on a mountaineer in a remote cabin. An exile knocks on the door.
EXILE: Whoever you are, have pity on a hunted man. There is a price on my head.
MOUNTAINEER: How much?
The curtain falls.
But shorter still may be Samuel Beckett’s 1969 play Breath, which lasts 35 seconds. As we view a bare, litter-strewn stage, we hear a baby’s cry, a person inhaling once and then exhaling, and then another cry. At the play’s West End debut, one audience member said, “I just want to put on record that I thought the whole evening was completely bogus and pretentious.”
The great thing about Gustave Verbeek’s comic strips is that when you reach the end of a page, you can invert it to see the story continue.
He created 64 such comics for the New York Herald between 1903 and 1905.
The Isle of Dogs. An 18th-century engraving.
This 1872 Currier and Ives print is titled The Puzzled Fox: Find the Horse, Lamb, Wild Boar, Men’s and Women’s Faces. There are eight human and animal faces hidden in the scene. Can you find them?
Ironically, the birds that are visible have now disappeared — they’re passenger pigeons.
Most expensive paintings (sale prices expressed in dollars and adjusted for inflation):
- No. 5, 1948, Jackson Pollock: $142.7 million (2006)
- Woman III, Willem de Kooning: $140.2 million (2006)
- Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, Gustav Klimt: $137.6 million (2006)
- Portrait of Dr. Gachet, Vincent van Gogh: $129.7 million (1990)
- Bal au moulin de la Galette, Montmartre, Pierre-Auguste Renoir: $122.8 million (1990)
- GarÃ§on Ã la pipe, Pablo Picasso: $113.4 million (2004)
- Irises, Vincent van Gogh: $97.5 million (1987)
- Dora Maar au Chat, Pablo Picasso: $97.0 million (2006)
- Portrait de l’artiste sans barbe, Vincent van Gogh: $90.1 million (1998)
- Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, Gustav Klimt: $89.1 million (2006)
Japanese industrialist Ryoei Saito bought both #4 and #5 in 1990 and then announced he would have them burned during his cremation. Perhaps fortunately, he later ran into financial difficulties and was forced to sell them.
Someone once asked Jean Cocteau, “Suppose your house were on fire and you could remove only one thing. What would you take?”
Cocteau considered, then said, “I would take the fire.”
Finland’s national painting is Hugo Simberg’s The Wounded Angel.
Simberg refused to explain its meaning … but it was his favorite work.
James McNeill Whistler failed his West Point chemistry exam.
“If silicon had been a gas,” he said later, “I should have been a major general.”