Historian and writer Dan Cruickshank celebrates architecture as a creative force as he explores the world’s greatest cities, buildings and monuments. In the first episode, Cruickshank explores how humanity has created beauty through architecture. He travels to Greenland to build an igloo. In China he scales the world’s biggest Buddha and deciphers a temple in India rich with erotic images. He visits the Catherine Palace, a hot-blooded baroque masterpiece in the middle of snowy Russia. Finally, he uncovers the dark tale of Albi Cathedral, a building originally designed to suppress the local population but now an object of beauty and wonder. (58 min)
VBS visits Vincent Fournier in Paris to discuss his distinct style that merges fantasy with reality in photographs of rockets, otherworldly landscapes, research facilities and cosmonauts. VBS then travels with Fournier to the NASA Kennedy Space Center before the last space shuttle launch. (18 min)
VBS goes on assignment to Monterrey, Mexico with portrait photographer Stefan Ruiz to document the “Cholombiano” street culture of sticky sideburns and stoner cumbia jams in the first episode of the new VBS series Picture Perfect. (17:30 min)
The street is a space where art thrives, and a place where artists can shape the public aesthetic. Olek, a sculptor whose medium is crochet, and Swoon, a mixed media artist, disrupt daily life with work that creates wonder, emotion, and humor. Equally at home in museums and galleries, both artists also create installations that challenge the formats of traditional art spaces. With powerful layers of meaning, beautiful aesthetics, and using unique media, these two prolific creators are pushing the boundaries of contemporary art. (6:40 min)
Let’s Get Lost is an American documentary film about the turbulent life and career of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker written and directed by Bruce Weber. When Baker died in 1988, he was demonized and dismissed as a musician because of his love affair with heroin. This Academy Award-nominated film didn’t pull any punches but also highlighted his genius and brought him back from obscurity. Now more Chet Baker records are sold than ever in his lifetime. (120 min)
This biography is about Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, a woman who gracefully balanced a private life of illness and pain against a public persona that was flamboyant, irreverent and world-renowned. Kahlo was an eyewitness to a unique pairing of revolution and renaissance that defined the times in which she lived.
Kahlo is best known for dozens of self-portraits through which she tells the story of her dramatic life. She was severely injured in a bus accident at 18, and her paintings reflect the debilitating effects she endured for the rest of her life: 35 operations, body casts, metal corsets, constant pain and the inability to bear a child. Kahlo’s work also reflects her passionate love affairs (including a brief one with Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky), and her turbulent marriage to Mexican muralist painter Diego Rivera. Segment 1 (11 min)
Frank Gehry is that rare kind of architect who has garnered both critical acclaim and popular fame. Not since Frank Lloyd Wright has an architect been such a household name. Gehry’s designs dramatically blur the line between art and architecture, yet the strong appeal of his sculptural designs does not obscure the role of function. He follows a painstaking process of subtle vision and revision both in his sketches and in his model shop. (83 min)
Selections from the the film Proteus, a documentary about the life, work, and philosophy of Ernst Haeckel, a 19th century naturalist and early evolutionist. The film tells of Haeckel’s character and influences while animating his magical detailed engravings of Radiolaria, single celled marine organisms. (7:55 min)
Type is everywhere. Every print publication, website, movie, advertisement and public message involves the creation or selection of a fitting typeface. Online, a rich and artistic typographical culture exists, where typefaces are created and graphic design seeps in to every image.
In episode 2 of Off Book, typeface designers Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones outline the importance of selecting the right font to convey a particular feeling. Graphic designer Paula Scher talks about building identity in messaging, while Eddie Opara uses texture to create reaction. Infographic designers Julia Vakser and Deroy Peraza map complicated data sets into digestible imagery, mixing color, graphics and type. (7 min)