A New Year, and a new set of fine sites for your viewing and thinking pleasure.

Two magnificent bronze sculptures, discovered in 1974 undersea on the southern coast of Italy, are about to go on display. The Riace Bronzes, a pair of splendid warriors dating back 2500 years, include silver, copper, ivory and glass as well as bronze. After an extensive renovation and much political wrangling, they will be shown in the National Museum of Magna Graecia, in the city of Reggio Calabria in southern Italy. These magnificent bodies are an incredible sight.

First he shot himself with a rifle. Then he set himself afire, then filmed himself choking and almost drowning. Surely Chris Burden's performance pieces are shocking, especially for a soft-spoken man. The New Museum is presenting a retrospective of Burden's work. It is said that masculinity is the overriding subject of his oeuvre, that he turns a critical eye on the ideas of gender that are prominent today.

A collaboration between the Bodleian Libraries and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana has produced a digitization project aiming to open up 1.5 million pages from their combined archives. The project is funded by the Polonsky Foundation with a $2 million USD grant. These extraordinary collections inspired Dr. Leonard Polonsky to fund the availability of these ancient texts to not only scholars but the general public as well.

Two recent books have been released about the reclusive British artist Lucien Freud, who died in 2011. Freud lived a notoriously lurid life, and insisted on writing little about his work. "Any words which might come out of his mouth concerning his art", he claimed, "are about as relevant as the noise a tennis player produces when playing a shot." Of the two books, it appears that "Man With a Blue Scarf" has more validity: another review of "Breakfast With Lucien" is less sanguine.

According to Outside the Beltway, no previously published works will be allowed into the public domain in the U.S. until 2019. Previously the copyrights of works expired in "life plus 70 years", and this lifting of the public's access still exists in most of the European Union countries. As the result of several steps taken by the U. S. Congress, that life span has been expanded to 95 years. This legislation increases the price of works and make them less available as a source of creative inspiration. Moreover, Jennifer Jenkins, Director of the Center for the Study of Public Domain at Duke Law School says that the works are thus not available for publication in Braille and in editions for the visually impaired.

See what you can do with a single piece of plastic. Then look at the Peacock Chair created by the Canadian firm Uufie. Note that the photography is as dramatic as the chair itself.

I didn't think I'd be attacted to bears as a subject, but Deborah Simon has made me rethink. Simon uses embroidery, paint, glass and other materials to draw attention to the dichotomy between a fangless stuffed animal and the predatory natural creature. Her work, aside from the implications, is beautifully crafted.

"Nameless, voiceless, forgotten" - these are the words used to describe Martin Ramirez, a self-taught artist who spent the bulk of his life institutionalized at the Dewitt State Hospital in Austin, Texas. Few of Ramirez' paintings have been preserved - many were created with match sticks dipped in ink - yet those still available show a complex sensitivity. Ramirez was first diagnosed as what we now call bi-polar, then schizophrenic. Afflicted as well with tuberculosis, he lived in apparently deplorable conditions. One of his more celebrated pieces, a Madonna, resides at the US Library of Congress.

An unusual "Lotus Hotel" has been designed for a desert area in China. PLaT architects used prefabricated panels that required neither water nor concrete, resulting in a lightweight structure.

A unique installation on Zurich's Bahnnofstrasse uses models with scoliosis or bone disease alongside the standard "perfect" mannequins. The exhibition was sponsored by Pro Infirmis, an organization that supports people with disabilities. Included are models with shortened limbs and a malformed spine.

Business Insider, no stranger to superlatives, reviews a book called "The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti" by Rafael Schacter. Superlatives aside, there are some eye-catching works here that deserve your attention. On the same subject, but with a far different level of appreciation, the Guardian shows a group of graffiti works in New York City before, and after, they were erased. The contrast says much about our urban structural presence and the alternative contemporary landscape created by those who are subjected to concrete monotony.

Anders Zorn, described as "Sweden's Master Painter", was given a retrospective online in a PBS presentation. Zorn created vibrant portraits and scenes from the Nordic landscape in a style called modern impressionism. Not well known today, Zorn painted portraits of three American Presidents as well as provocative nudes and water scenes.

"What is a Masterwork?" at the Asian Art Museum will give you an eyeful of a few of the objects in their collection. You can go also to their past exhibitions and see glorious objects of Korean Art, and Yoga, the Art of Transformation. This is a fine site and one to visit often.

I am a great fan, as you know, of the renaissance in contemporary architecture that is occurring worldwide. One exceptional example is Sou Fujimoto's outlook tower with water plaza, said to reflect the shapes of bedouin tents. It is proposed to connect the mainland with the sea. Its light-filled open spaces are hypnotic.

c.Corinne Whitaker 2014