Pop Culture

The Art of Happiness

David Lynch: Francis Bacon makes me happy, the power of his painting. Edward Hopper makes me thrilled. Edward Kienholz’s sculptures make me happy. Alexander Calder’s sculptures make me thrilled with happiness. Vincent van Gogh makes me happy. There’s a bunch, there’s so many great painters and sculptors that are just great.

Roxane Gay: The musical In the Heights makes me very happy. I love that show. And frankly, all musical theater brings me joy. I’m a huge musical-theater geek. I listened to In the Heights years before Hamilton. It’s just so great. It’s got everything—it’s got community, it’s got friendship, it’s got gentrification worries, immigrant stories, class stories. And it also has a little romance—who doesn’t love that?

Tracy Morgan: When it comes to art, I chose comedy—or, rather, comedy chose me—because of my feelings. And I love to see other people laughing and happy. So there’s no other art or books or TV in the world that to me tops comedy. The two sweetest words in comedy: Richard Pryor. He’s the greatest. He’s the king. Comedy, he hit you in the gut with it. He didn’t tickle you, he hit you in the gut. He made us unafraid to see ourselves. He made us brave enough to see ourselves. And it’s funny. When we take a look at ourselves, we are hilarious. We are hilarious. If you take life too seriously, you’ll never get out alive.

Samantha Bee: I bought a Dorothea Lange photograph for myself for my 50th birthday, because I think her photography is beautiful and it’s so evocative, so I have this beautiful photograph of hers in my living room in my apartment in the city. And it’s not a happy photograph—not happy at all. But it’s stunning to me. It’s a photograph called Bad Trouble Over the Weekend, it’s really just a woman with her head in her hands and a lit cigarette. Obviously, the backstory is really sad and awful, but I find it very meaningful. And I feel so lucky that I get to look at it every day. Even though it’s a very sad photograph, the honor of being able to cast my gaze on that while making breakfast is glory for me.

Mookie Betts: Power is definitely a TV show that excites me. Just the wave of emotions you go through in each episode. I’m not a huge fan of emotional roller coasters, just because I like staying pretty even-keel. I don’t like getting too high, too low—I feel like you make your best decisions when you’re thinking with a level head. But when I hop on that one, I enjoy it.

Anthony Hopkins: Well, I do a lot of painting. I paint most days, and I enjoy my own work. I mean, I’m a bit clueless, I don’t have any training. But I like van Gogh and the Impressionists—they’re full of life and light. I like those. I’m not an academic, I’m not an aficionado, I don’t know much about art. I don’t. But I don’t know much about anything really. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I pretend to know—you know, we all pretend that we know. I don’t have a clue about most things. I really don’t.

Jeremy O. Harris: I really love great theater and great dialogue in the theater, and I think that when you are witnessing someone who is able to turn a phrase in and around itself in front of you very quickly, too quickly for your brain to keep up with, but your body understands, is so exciting to me. Shakespeare does this all the time. When you watch great Shakespeare performed, you feel like you’re watching two snap queens sort of go at each other on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

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