The Easel

6th December 2017

Exhibition review: Rose Wylie at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, W2

Art institutions continue to unearth underappreciated female artists. Returning to art after raising a family Wylie worked for decades “all but unrecognized”. Now, a flurry of prizes, membership of the Royal Academy of Arts and solo exhibitions. “Wylie’s canvases work like some high-culture equivalent of Snapchat … [and] approach today’s image-drenched world in a way that feels current and relevant.”

28th November 2017

Thomas Ruff at the Whitechapel Gallery

Ruff is one of a group of German artists (the “Dusseldorf school”) who are highly influential in fine art photography. His early interest in close-up portraits has shifted to a focus on manipulating digital images – subverting the adage that ‘the camera never lies’. “[T]his is photography boldly going where no photography has gone before.” An excellent backgrounder on Ruff is here.

Modigliani packs a powerful, emotional punch – Tate Modern, review

Modigliani’s graceful, sensual portraits are instantly recognizable. Are they truly innovative or simply romanticism with a modernist veneer? Did he do more than draw inspiration from contemporary greats – Brancusi, Picasso, Matisse? The doubts persist. “His entire art hangs on the brink of corniness, but you’re charmed into submission by paintings which … are very easy to enjoy.” More images are here.

The time is right for an Erté revival – a new hero for our gender-anxious times

The Paris International Exposition of 1925, showcased art deco and the decorative arts. By then Erte was a global tastemaker, via his cover illustrations for Harper’s Bazaar. And art deco allowed him to range widely – theatre, fashion, jewellery, homewares. Erte’s influence came through his drawings, which best revealed his métier – the romantic flights of fancy that underpin art deco’s enduring popularity. More images are here.