The Easel

30th January 2018

Andreas Gursky, master of the contemporary sublime

Gursky is widely acclaimed because he reveals a world that we know and yet still takes us by surprise. He composes images where “all the pictorial elements are as important as each other”. Confronted with so much detail the eye defaults to a summary impression – “a kind of abstract expressionism, painterly in scale and epic in intention”. An excellent commentary by the curator (5 min) is here.

Charles I – King And Collector at Royal Academy review: A show fit for a king

A visit to the Hapsburg court made Charles 1 want what they had – a stonking art collection. Over his 25 year rule he acquired just that – and it was promptly sold after his beheading. Magnificent though they are, these paintings were flattery. “Everything that looks good in a Van Dyck picture of Charles on horseback 10 feet high supports the idea that the king actually is good, the almost ultimate good next to God”. More images are here.

23rd January 2018

Monochrome: Painting in Black and White

Painting in black and white helps draw attention to a subject or technique. Originally conceived of for religious works, grisaille is now just another part of the artist’s toolkit as a London show demonstrates. The show includes a light installation by Olafur Eliasson, a room lit in sodium yellow which suppresses perception of colour, thus creating a monochrome world. An exhibition review is here.

Crossroads — Kauffman, Judd and Morris, at Sprüth Magers

A current exhibition of minimalist art, notes this writer, has nothing whatever to say about the art world’s topics du jour – gender, identity, politics. What a relief! “[T]here is nothing minimal about minimalism. Colour and shape — the essential building blocks of art — are a bottomless box of Lego. I came into art to see things that have not been shown before, not to be lectured by unhappy curators with identity issues.”