The Easel

26th September 2017

How Alexander Calder Became America’s Most Beloved Sculptor

By 1930, Calder had begun to be noticed, at least by other artists. Late in that year he visited Mondrian in his Paris studio. “Calder later observed, “It was Mondrian who made me abstract”. Calder was beginning to contemplate a new kind of abstract sculpture—the sculptures that would emerge at the Galerie Percier in Paris scarcely six months later and establish him as one of the most radical artists of his time.”

The Surprising History (and Future) of Paperweights

Cheap paper led to more letters and documents, for which people needed … paperweights. By the 1860’s the novelty had worn off but not before glassmakers achieved stunning levels of technical and artistic proficiency. A century later, a revival, this time without the merest hint of functional purpose. A video on paperweight masterpieces (46 min) is here.

19th September 2017

The Beauty of Ugly Painting

A paean for disruptive art. Dadaists attacked beauty as a “boring sort of perfection” and many famous names embraced this view. Does the art market prefers inoffensive art? Perhaps, but major institutions seem to be embracing the new and ugly. Hence, today’s ugly might just be tomorrow’s ‘wild and daring’. Or, as the writer notes: “to achieve harmony in bad taste is the height of elegance”.