The Easel

17th October 2017

Collecting Strokes of Genius

Wow … “one of the paramount group drawing shows of the era”!  A distinguished collection of drawings, gifted to the Morgan Library, includes “heartbreaking” Rembrandt, “gossamer-handed” Tiepolo, “beyond superb” Palmer and others. 16th century drawing was moving toward “a medium for inventing rather than recording”. [By the 18th century] “drawing as a vehicle for fantasy took full flight”. More images are here.

‘Trigger’ Exhibition At The New Museum Tackles Gender But Ponders So Much More

Too often, art that addresses gender issues is discussed in cliché-ridden prose. No such problem here. A group of artists was invited to address gender issues, resulting in some “stunning” art and an “unmatched” survey of rising contemporary artists. Does a clear narrative emerge on this vexed topic? Not really – “any show with 40 plus artists is going to run into curatorial issues”. More images are here.

The incredible story of how the last known work of Leonardo da Vinci was almost lost forever

All eyes will be on the Christie’s NY saleroom next month when the only privately owned da Vinci painting goes for sale. The story of its re-discovery and authentication is fascinating but so are subsequent events. Once confirmed as genuine, it was sold twice – both times leading to law suits. Assuming it reaches the expected $100m its current owner, a “divorced oligarch”, will have lost on the deal!

10th October 2017

Treading on Euphemisms for Women

Mao said that ‘women hold up half the sky’. To Lin Tianmiao, an eminent Chinese contemporary artist, that’s not a feminist statement. She takes descriptors of women, such as ‘leftover women’ or ‘soccer mom’, embroiders them into rugs, and then invites viewers to walk on them. It is art that expresses her individual experience as a woman. Just don’t call it feminist. An interesting tug-of-war with an interviewer on this topic is here.

The Anger of the Guns

Has the story of art in the Great War been fully told? Vivid anti-war imagery by Otto Dix and others is well known but only part of this story. Other artists expressed a range of views, not all of which were opposed to the war. “The Met sees an arc from initial enthusiasm at war to horror and revulsion, but it was difficult to separate them even from the start.” Multiple images are here.