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.

10th October 2017

Gordon Parks: Collected Works Study Edition

Parks was one of America’s most celebrated photographers of the last century. Starting out as a self-employed society photographer in Chicago he then joined the Farm Security Administration where his images of social injustice carried a distinguishing lyrical aesthetic. A decades-long career at Life magazine showcased a vastly broad talent that included writing and, after Life, film directing. Multiple images are here.

Another Renoir show? But this one is worth it.

Some critics grind their teeth about Renoir feeling some of his works are akin to happy snaps. Luncheon of the Boating Party is not immune to criticism but is far from lightweight. Technical analysis reveals its careful and “masterful” construction. “Heroic striving on the painter’s part yielded exactly the superficiality he was aiming for, a bibulous moment of fun among a gathering of good looking, high-spirited young people.”

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.