The Easel

THE EASEL ESSAYS

“How to See the World Properly”: An Interview About Jasper Johns

Roberta Bernstein is professor emeritus of art history at the University of Albany, State University of New York. She is also the author and director of the catalogue raisonné for Jasper Johns. Most recently, she co-curated (with Edith Devaney) a retrospective of Johns’s work at the Royal Art Museum in London entitled “Something Resembling Truth” […]

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Jeff Koons: Or, Who’s Liberating Whom?

In 1988, Jeff Koons created the work of art known as Michael Jackson and Bubbles. It’s a life-sized porcelain sculpture–actually the largest handmade porcelain sculpture ever made. It depicts the aforementioned pop star leaning back on a field of flowers as he cradles his famous chimpanzee. Both the monkey and the man are clad in […]

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Color is Meaning

It is said that the great Luxembourgish-American photographer Edward Steichen once took a thousand pictures of the same white teacup. This was in the days before digital photography, mind you, so the commitment of time and expense was considerable. Steichen photographed the teacup against different variations of white and black backgrounds. He was studying his […]

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Night Swimmers

Nasreen Mohamedi untitled (1975) Kiran Nadar Museum of Art Rachel Spence, March 7, 2017    If you love art, the possibility of revelation is always present. In 2007, while I was living in Italy, I was rocked to my core when I came upon Antonello da Messina’s “L’Annunziata” in the Palazzo Abatellis in Palermo. A […]

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EASEL ESSAY: Andrew Wyeth, his Critics, and Small Town Mud

The paintings are of simple things: drapes fluttering in the breeze, a young boy making his way down a hill and across a meadow, ten or fifteen leaves dying on the spindly branch of a tree in late autumn. These images are painted with care, often in tempera, sometimes in watercolor. The attention to detail […]

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Nicole Eisenman and the Resurrection of Figuration

The contemporary painter Nicole Eisenman tells a rather moving story about winning a MacArthur “genius” grant in the late summer of 2015. She went to a quiet place and wept. Similar experiences have, no doubt, beset many MacArthur recipients. The grant is a crowning glory to an artist’s career, conveying recognition at the highest level […]

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A LIFE OF “E”S

In the early 1950s Cy Twombly worked for the army as a cryptologist. That fact seems hugely significant since Twombly (who died on July 5th at 83 years old) was one of the more elusive artists of his generation. That is what the conventional wisdom says. In this case, the conventional wisdom is probably correct. […]

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Bosch Mania

This year is shaping up to be downright Boschian. We are speaking here of Hieronymus Bosch, the painter. 2016 happens to mark the five-hundred-year anniversary of Bosch’s death. So, Bosch’s home and eponymous town, Den Bosch (or, more correctly but much harder to say, ‘s-Hertogenbosch), has assembled the largest retrospective of Bosch’s work ever to […]

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