The Easel

24th April 2018

Celia Paul Paints Her Biography

Some think that the English are “mingy” in the recognition they accord their own artists. Hilton Als, the eminent American critic is not so restrained. “Contemporary British art [including “visionaries” such as Paul] has had a global impact. She builds up on a series of canvases a great originality, an emotional breadth, a vocabulary of loss, of loss even before it happens.”

Why it’s bad for potters to think of themselves as artists

The writer of this essay seems muddled. He admits the best pieces in this Cambridge show deserve comparison to Moore, Brancusi or Giacometti. However, he is perturbed by the craft / art demarcation being unclear. Some pieces (gasp) even have practical uses! An essay by the curator offers a steadier narrative. More images are here.

Gillian Ayres: Abstract painter whose work was rooted in the beauty and colour of the real

The Tate’s 1956 show of American abstraction got a hostile public reception, but Ayres found it inspirational. To be more specific, she loved its energy and use of colour, not the angst associated with its American founders. She said “‘I love obscurity in modern art. I don’t want a story.” The obituarist’s view of her work is similar: “decorative unruliness … large, loud, fierce and bold”.


17th April 2018

Meet Grinling Gibbons: The ‘Michelangelo of Wood’

Many regard the Baroque woodcarver Gibbons as the greatest wood carver ever. His exquisite, almost unbelievably detailed, work brought fame in his lifetime and prestigious commissions from royal palaces and elsewhere. A panel of his work has been purchased for a British public museum, prompting a celebratory exhibition. An excellent video (2 min) is here.