Wexner Center for the Arts

Joshua Wolf Shenk: Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs

Mon, Oct 13, 2014 7 PM
Film/Video Theater

“Only one person has the right to criticize me. That is Picasso.”—Henri Matisse
“All things considered, there is only Matisse.”—Pablo Picasso

In his new book Powers of Two, Joshua Wolf Shenk shines a light on this thing we call “chemistry” and proposes, with deft illustrations and rigorous argument, that it is, in fact, the essential engine of the creative process. Shenk’s book weaves together scores of duos, from John Lennon and Paul McCartney to Suzanne Farrell and George Balanchine to Vincent and Theo van Gogh, alongside discussion of the social science of innovation and intimacy. In his visit to the Wexner Center, Shenk will pay particular attention to the career-long rivalry between Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, an exchange so intimate that it can even be called an adversarial collaboration.

Shenk’s first book, Lincoln’s Melancholy, was named one of the best books of 2005 by New York Times and Washington Post. His magazine pieces include cover stories in Harper’s, Time, and Atlantic, where his essay "What Makes Us Happy?" was the most-read article in the history of that magazine’s website. A curator and storyteller as well an author, Shenk supports such creative endeavors as The Moth (advisor and vice-chair emeritus), Rose O'Neill Literary House at Washington College, MD (past director), and Erikson Institute for Education and Research, MA.

Praise for Powers of Two

“In this surprising, compelling, deeply felt book, Joshua Wolf Shenk banishes the idea of solitary genius by demonstrating that our richest art and science come from collaboration: we need one another not only for love, but also for thinking and imagining and growing and being.”—Andrew Solomon, author of Far From the Tree

"This is a book about magic; about the Beatles; about the chemistry between people; about neuroscience; and about the buddy system; it examines love and hate, harmony and dissonance, and everything in between. The result is wise, funny, surprising, and completely engrossing."—Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief

Cosponsored by the Columbus Museum of Art.

This lecture is free for all audiences but tickets are required; click here to reserve and print out yours. Bring your ticket for free admittance to the galleries 5:30–7 PM on a first come, first served basis.