The Easel

19th June 2018

In Iranian art show at LACMA, the past wrestles with the present

A big show in LA seeks to introduce the art of Iran. A key idea is that Iranian visual arts have always merged historical and modern imagery. “By evoking the past, Iranian artists create new visual metaphors to describe their present day.” Fine. But if you are not an expert, and without explanatory wall texts, grumbles the reviewer, many pieces are ”insular and unengaging”.

Ed Ruscha Still Has Plenty More to Say About America

Appreciative bio piece on the American artist who is currently enjoying a high-profile year. His reputation rests on an ability to pinpoint commonplace words or objects that are more than they seem. ““I like any attention given to something that doesn’t require attention” … He showed me a recent work with the phrase MOP UP ON AISLE TWO. “I heard this in a department store””.

12th June 2018

Giacometti: Beguiled by Thin Men and Women

Great though Giacometti’s ‘surrealist’ sculptures were, he was drawn back to the ““thrill and the anxiety” of figuration.” The reviewer finds optimism in these later, gaunt figures. That’s a surprise. A more common view is, as put by another writer “If existentialism was a brand, a Giacometti stick figure would be on the T-shirt”.

Amid surging interest in black artists, Art Institute spotlights Charles White

The linked piece gives a nice overview of a Chicago retrospective of White’s career but much the better accounting of this under-recognised artist comes in Kerry James Marshall’s poetic homage to his mentor. “His most accomplished drawings achieve true perfection. The effect is dazzling … nobody else has drawn the black body with more elegance and authority”