The Easel

30th May 2017

Considering Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Borderless Bodies

Yiadom-Boakye is seemingly a rising star. For some years articles about her have referred to a “growing reputation”. Her work focuses on portraits of imagined characters, not in any particular context and appearing somehow ambiguous. “[H]er paintings are loud, ungovernable things — portrayed are people who defy linear narratives, wildly alive and stubbornly unoccupied by the constraints of identity.”

Be a Somebody: ‘My Perfect Body’ at the Warhol Museum Examined the Artist’s Preoccupation with the Physical

Warhol had self-image issues, the product of skin problems, baldness and being gay. This greatly influenced his art, according to the curator of a recent show: “His connection to Pop art starts with the body. On the surface, it would seem that Andy Warhol’s artistic project was concerned primarily with beauty and celebrity …yet there is conspicuous lack of beauty in Warhol’s work.”

New Marciano foundation proves the potential and the pitfalls of a vanity art museum

If you build a new museum, put in your art collection and open it to the public, it must hurt to see it called a “vanity” project. But is it unfair? The Marciano Art Foundation has just opened in Los Angeles. The collection of contemporary works is “iffy” according to this writer and would benefit from some “deeply informed professional guidance.” Unkind critics also note that the Marcianos’ civic generosity entitles them to tax breaks.

On a Grecian Urn

Around 500BCE an anonymous Athenian artisan – “Berlin Painter” – realized that clay pots could carry realistic painting. With this insight, plus ravishing painting skills, he/she helped create “emotionally expressive graphic art” and is thus regarded as one of the great artists of the ancient world. Sadly artisans in Athenian society were accorded a lowly status – we are not talking Jeff Koons.

23rd May 2017

Philadelphia Museum of Art Features Watercolors by Homer and Sargent

Nineteenth century artists regarded watercolour as a medium appropriate for illustrators, and women. But then along came Winslow Homer and John Singer Sergent. They made watercolour “the American medium” and according to one critic “pried a gate open in the national imagination”. That, it seems, was not the only gate opened – one also opened up for women artists. More images are here.