That Banana on the Wall? At Art Basel Miami It’ll Cost You $120,000.

Remember when Morley Safer famously — controversially — asked on “60 Minutes” whether Marcel Duchamp’s urinal and Jeff Koons’s vacuum cleaners were really art? Now, in the spirit of such questions, comes Maurizio Cattelan’s (somewhat overripe) banana pinned to the wall with gray duct tape. For three buyers at Art Basel Miami, who paid between $120,000 and $150,000 each for …

The Stories Behind American Heroes, Made Accessible to Kids

With no end in sight to the current wave of “fake news,” teaching kids the facts of our history is more vital than ever. Picture-book biographies can help, using narrative flair and information-rich illustrations to compress a life story or contextualize an important moment in a small package. These books introduce people who faced bias, indifference and cynicism yet went …

Review: With ‘Jagged Little Pill,’ They Finally Fixed the Jukebox

The problem with most jukebox musicals isn’t the juke, it’s the box. The tunes are fine, but they rarely match the container that someone is trying to jam them into. How could they? Commercial pop and musical theater have different kinds of tales to tell and different tools for telling them. So it’s easy to imagine all the ways “Jagged …

Howard Cruse Dies at 75; His Cartoons Explored Gay Life

Howard Cruse, a gay underground cartoonist who mined his life in “Wendel,” a comic strip that ran for several years in The Advocate, and “Stuck Rubber Baby,” a poignant graphic novel set in the South in the 1960s, died on Nov. 26 in Pittsfield, Mass. He was 75. His husband, Ed Sedarbaum, said the cause was lymphoma. While Mr. Cruse …

Review: Facing Life’s Final Stretch in ‘Harry Townsend’s Last Stand’

The reception of any play, film or song can vary greatly depending on the audience’s age. But this difference could peak at the new show “Harry Townsend’s Last Stand.” Younger generations might see a creaky comedy packed with jokes about senior moments. And while older folks could have this reaction as well, they could also be chilled by George Eastman’s …

What’s the Point of the Turner Prize, Anyway?

It was a conclusion as sappy-sweet as the climax of “Mean Girls,” when Lindsay Lohan’s character breaks apart her homecoming queen tiara and divides the pieces among her classmates. Assembled in Margate, England, to discover the winner of the 2019 Turner Prize, members of the British art world discovered that the long-in-the-tooth award would go to … all four nominated …

D.C. Fontana, First Female ‘Star Trek’ Writer, Dies at 80

Mr. Roddenberry recognized her ambition, and her record of writing for Westerns, and asked her to pick which story she wanted to write from the production outline for Season One. Her first script, about the ship’s encounter with a mysterious human teenager who possesses strange powers, became the second episode of “Star Trek.” Ms. Fontana wrote for all three seasons …

Have We Finally Caught Up With Andrea Fraser?

“WHAT DO YOU need to know about me to understand my work?” Fraser asked six of her graduate students. It was the first day of fall classes at the University of California, Los Angeles, where Fraser is a tenured professor in the Department of Art. They sat in a half circle in a stark white room illuminated by the eye …

‘Star Wars’ Star Billy Dee Williams Uses Male and Female Pronouns

The actor Billy Dee Williams has been the very embodiment of cool charisma for decades — in real life and as the smooth-talking, cape-wearing smuggler Lando Calrissian in the “Star Wars” universe (a role he’s reprising for the first time since 1983 in the upcoming “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”). And while Williams’s brand of cool has been synonymous …

The Best TV Shows of 2019

‘The 43’ (Netflix) In an economical 132 minutes, this two-part Mexican series — a model of the investigative true-crime documentary — details a case of horrifying loss and chilling indifference. Part 1 is a harrowing re-creation of the night in 2014 when 43 college students, on buses bound for a protest in Mexico City, disappeared while running a gantlet of …