The Easel

17th April 2018

The Lurchingly Uneven Portraits of Paul Cézanne

Feted in London this show has moved to Washington. Cezanne “faltered” in his portraits because of the difficulty of showing what he wanted to show – a person not a personality, “an absoluteness not just of seeing, but of being”. This idea is a building block of modernism and not easy. “Cézanne’s fate has been to be revered more than enjoyed.”

Paul Brown: Process, Chance and Serendipity: Art That Makes Itself

The idea of art expressing the unconscious has a long history. Paul Brown has given the idea a modern twist – writing computer programs that autonomously generate art. These works are not Brown’s self-expression but rather art that “makes itself” and is testimony to the “beauty of spontaneous and organic structures”.  Images showing the development of these ideas are here.

At the Nasher Sculpture Centre

Should some ancient stone tools be viewed as sculpture? A “provocative” US show promotes this hypothesis, displaying hand axes too big for practical use and other tools so symmetrical as to compromise usability.  Early examples of Duchamp’s concept of the readymade, perhaps? A concession of sorts comes from one critic – “some of the oldest aesthetic objects on earth”.

Knowledge of the past is the key to the future

An art world heavy hitter draws attention to the nearly-forgotten Colescott. Colescott anticipated important social issues, especially identity stereotypes. His preferred approach was not earnestness but humour. An obituary, in 2009, noted his “giddily joyful, destabilized compositions … satirized and offended without regard to race, creed, gender.” More images are here.

10th April 2018

The Berkshire Museum Gets the Final Green Light to Sell Works From Its Collection, Ending a Long-Running Saga

Berkshire museum has won a protracted battle to raise money by selling key artworks. Having satisfied the court about its financial difficulties, the museum can proceed with its sale. One key work will be purchased by another institution and kept on public display. Few on the ‘losing’ side seem happy. Says one “I think the precedent here is, frankly, disastrous”.

Tony DeLap’s hybrids of painting and sculpture are impossible objects

California’s “light and space” art (also called ‘finish fetish’ art) is cerebral – quiet pieces with exact, immaculate surfaces, manipulating light and geometric shapes. DeLap was an early contributor and is viewed mainly as a painter. However, the reviewer admits, “painting … is almost never the main event.  [B]eyond the painting’s edges, the possibilities are several.”