The Easel

13th November 2018

Klimt/Schiele review: Protégé steals the show in tale of two great Austrian artists

A head to head of Viennese modernism. Klimt was older and established, a mentor to Schiele. He produced ravishing female images that are all beautiful, flowing curves. In contrast, Schiele’s drawings are angular, gaunt, “unremittingly electric” His images, in particular, raise difficult gender issues. Nonetheless they are “amazing paintings of human existence.”

Russia: Royalty and the Romanovs at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace

Centuries of shared self-interest between the Romanovs and the Windsors led to a tradition of lavish gift giving – including lots of art. It stopped abruptly with the Russian revolution. British public opinion, unsympathetic to the czar, prevented any offer of sanctuary. The royal family was promptly murdered, ending the dynasty. Those dazzling gifts now memorialise the friendship.

6th November 2018

Striking photos of human scars on earth

‘Post-industrial sublime’ is a neat phrase coined to describe Burtinsky’s large format images of landscapes blighted by human activity. They often have an abstract beauty that, once the image is fully recognized, gives way to an “ominous documentary undertow.” Burtinsky admits “I’ve become hardened like a war photographer”. An interview with Burtinsky is here.

British Museum’s Islamic art finally gets its fairy-tale ending

Militant Islam grabs much of the attention given to the Islamic world. A new display of the British Museum’s collection of Islamic art tries for a broader perspective.  One of the three great collections of Islamic art in the West, it shows an artistic achievement that is more international, diverse, “colourful and boisterous” than usually thought. More images are here and video here..