Arts and Culture

‘Safari for sound’: New York Philharmonic fine-tunes new home

NEW YORK, United States (AFP) – The New York Philharmonic is tuning up to open their brand-new performance space next month — and it’s not only the instruments that need to strike the perfect pitch. The hall itself is getting trial runs, with the famed symphony testing their pieces as acousticians make adjustments to wall and ceiling panels to ensure warm, rich tones. It’s “almost like you’re going on a safari for sound,” said Jaap […]

Child art show draws parallel between WWII, Ukraine war

by Anna Maria Jakubek Agence France-Presse WARSAW, Poland (AFP) — A new exhibition of child art from post-war Poland and present-day Ukraine shows that armed conflict is always the same for the world’s smallest citizens — no matter the where and the when. “How children perceive war, what they feel, what they convey through their drawings… is quite similar,” curator Dorota Sadowska told AFP. “What you see is suffering, plain and simple.” The outdoor exhibition […]

Obamas get their White House portraits after Trump snub

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) – Former president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama finally got their official White House portraits Wednesday, after four years of being snubbed by Donald Trump, in an emotional ceremony doubling as a rousing defense of American democracy. The paintings, destined to hang alongside those of generations of previous first couples in the White House, were unveiled by the Obamas themselves. Deafening cheers sounded through the packed East Room as […]

Christie’s to auction Microsoft co-founder Allen’s $1bn-plus art collection

NEW YORK, United States (AFP) – Christie’s announced plans on Thursday to auction the art collection of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, which it estimated to be worth more than $1 billion. The November sale of more than 150 pieces spanning 500 years of art will be “the largest and most exceptional art auction in history,” Christie’s said in a statement. The works will include “La montagne Sainte-Victoire” by French painter Paul Cezanne, valued at […]

Famed Winston Churchill photograph stolen from Canada hotel

Ottawa, Canada (AFP) The heist of a famed portrait of a scowling Winston Churchill has gripped Canada’s capital since it was discovered the photograph hanging at an Ottawa hotel for decades had been swapped for a fake. Police were called in after staff at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel in Ottawa last Friday noticed the picture of the late British prime minister was askew and didn’t match those of other portraits gifted by the late […]

‘We are divided’: lake upends life for tiny Kenyan tribe

by Nick Perry Agence France-Presse EL MOLO BAY, Kenya (AFP) — At first light, children from one of Kenya’s smallest and most isolated tribes put on life jackets and board a fishing boat for the journey across the lake to school. Until recently, they could walk the distance. A road connected the El Molo with the world beyond their tiny village, a lifeline for a secluded community of fishers and craftspeople subsisting on the shores […]

France’s ‘Little Nicolas’ illustrator Jean-Jacques Sempe dies aged 89

by Fiachra GIBBONS Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Jean-Jacques Sempe, who illustrated the beloved “Little Nicolas” series of French children’s books, has died aged 89, his wife Martine Gossieaux Sempe told AFP on Thursday. As well as his work on “Le Petit Nicolas”, an idealized vision of childhood in 1950s France that became an international best-seller, Sempe also illustrated more New Yorker magazine covers than any other artist. “The cartoonist Jean-Jacques Sempe died peacefully […]

Ukraine assault sparks talk of Russian ‘cultural revolution’

by Marina LAPENKOVA Agence France-Presse MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — Actor Sergei Bezrukov says the world has had enough of “liberal values” and hopes Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine and foreign sanctions can help Russian culture chart its own path. Bezrukov is among artistic figures who say Moscow should leverage the country’s growing isolation to purify Russian culture of Western influence and promote conservative values including patriotism and the Orthodox faith. “We must take advantage of the […]

Whites-only town booms in ‘Rainbow Nation’ South Africa

by Susan NJANJI Agence France-Presse ORANIA, South Africa (AFP) — From a distance, Orania looks like any other small town in rural South Africa. But once inside, the visitor is struck by an obvious difference. Everyone here is white. And in a country where menial work in wealthy areas is typically done by blacks, whites here mop supermarket floors, wield leaf blowers and harvest the nuts on pecan farms. Orania is a whites-only town in […]

Solar electric tricycles give Zimbabwean women a lift

Zimbabwe (AFP) – For years, selling eggs was a joyless business for Danai Bvochora, as most of the money she made went to cover minibus fares to the market in a rural area of Zimbabwe. That was until an earth-brown solar-powered electric tricycle changed her life. “We used to carry loads on our heads before. The tricycle has lessened the burden,” said the 47-year-old from Domboshava, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Zimbabwe’s capital, […]

Novelist Stephen King star witness in anti-trust trial

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) – Best-selling author Stephen King is horrified by an upcoming merger of major book publishers. The 75-year-old author of “Carrie,” “The Shining” and scores of other books, appeared in a Washington court on Tuesday to testify against the acquisition of his long-time publisher, Simon & Schuster, by Penguin Random House. The “King of Horror” is the Justice Department’s star witness in its anti-trust case opposing the merger. He introduced himself to […]