The Easel

17th October 2017

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

A companion piece to Morgan Meis’ recent Gallery Essay.

The Royal Academy of Arts landmark survey of Jasper Johns work, “Something Resembling Truth”, was co-curated by Roberta Bernstein, a personal friend of Johns.  Johns has said about his work “I have no ideas about what the paintings imply about the world. I don’t think that’s a painter’s business.” Morgan recently interviewed Roberta about this famously elusive artist.

“He is a complex man and his art is challenging. The understanding of a painting as a real object occupying space was so vividly conveyed [by Painting with Two Balls (1960)] and made me think about art in a new way. [Johns] is, I think, struggling with (and also fascinated by) the impossibility of fixing meaning or meanings. He’s more interested in how the mind … constructs meaning.”

Martin Puryear

Puryear, a “giant” of American art, is well overdue a London retrospective. This “tremendous” survey makes amends. Puryear clearly loves working in wood, an echo of the wood cultures he encountered in Africa and Japan. His sculptures convey allusions and ambiguities. As one critic noted about one of his pieces “the logic of the thing’s making is obvious but… something else is hidden … lurking”.

10th October 2017

Broken Bones and Marble Thrones: A Night With Jenny Holzer

Holzer is renowned for her large scale illuminated displays of text. The offer to install a show at Blenheim Castle must have been irresistible. Ancestral home of Winston Churchill, it was built to commemorate war victories. In contrast, her art expresses skepticism about military power. As one critic puts it “This is not a subtle show, but Blenheim is not a subtle building.”

Shagged Out: At Frieze 2017

Some critics clearly had big expectations of Frieze London. Isn’t this the art fair that helps define the cutting edge of new art? By that measure, it disappoints “[I]f this is the new, the new is starting to look old and jaded”. Others are a lot more relaxed “This is a selling fair after all … Frieze is like one big hodge-podge of a jumble sale, and like a jumble sale offers many delights and discoveries.”