The Easel

12th September 2017

Kara Walker’s New Show Was a Sensation Before It Even Opened

Kara Walker’s art focuses on racism and misogyny. So, in the uproar over Charlottesville and its aftermath, her latest show was bound to be controversial. And it certainly is that. “Walker’s work is a reminder that good art may be confrontational, but it is never didactic; rather, it holds a mirror up to life and demands only that you see what you see in that reflection.”

Clothes That Don’t Need You

How much do fashion and art overlap? In the case of Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons, quite a lot. “This is the stylist’s art taken to a whole new, one wants to say philosophical, level. Draping, wrapping, clustering, layering, stacking, scattering, and scaffolding—all the verbs of Postminimalist sculpture have their counterparts in the techniques of the needle trades.” Multiple images are here.

Zero Gravity

The Rauschenberg retrospective, now in New York, is reviewed in the context of the 1950’s New York art scene. Art for the abstract expressionists was about portraying their inner impulses. Rauschenberg, however, “was interested in making art out of the disparate and impersonal matter of everyday life, the castoffs of commodity culture. He wanted his work to express, not himself, but the strange new world around him.”

5th September 2017

Richard Gerstl, Neue Galerie, New York — mesmerising

Fin de siècle Vienna was a nervy place and it produced some nervy artists. Richard Gerstl was certainly one of those. Talented but unhappy he had an affair with a friend’s wife which was promptly discovered. Uproar ensued and, shortly thereafter, Gerstl committed suicide at just 25. “[D]id mental illness shape his style, or does his work look especially desperate because we read backwards from his suicide?”