The Easel

27th February 2018

Picking apart the Internet: An exhibition that addresses the elephant in the room

In 1991 the internet was just text and hyperlinks. Now it is so all-encompassing it influences our sense of ourselves, our sense of the truth. The art that it inspires has “alternative narratives”, suggesting experimentation more than consensus. “In many places, the exhibition is hard-going. The wall labels, inevitably, are Proustian — in length if not in spirit.”

Design Luminaries Remember The Extraordinary Wendell Castle

Did Castle make furniture or sculpture? He didn’t think there was any difference. His vision of “sculptural furniture” started with creations in laminated wood but blossomed with a move into bright plastics.  His signature creations were sinuous, biomorphic chairs and tables. In the view of one commentator “the most important post-war American furniture designer by a long shot.”

New Museum Triennial

The New Museum Triennial disappoints different critics in different ways. One grumbles that it “keeps its voice low”. Another says the show is “a glass one-quarter full”. A source of this irritation is its belaboured politics. It is “easy listening art … letting us bask in feel-good consensus.” Overall, there are too few works that “are satisfied to be artworks, not instigations.”

When Artists Move from the Margins to the Center

‘Outsider art’ is a slippery concept. As the writer suggests, it mostly refers to artists who, because of poverty or institutionalisation, are at the margins of the art world. More important, though, is what our eyes see: “exemplars of vitality, ingenuity, sincerity, and a bracing lack of polish … It’s inconceivable the significance of outsider art will ever recede from view.” Multiple images are here.

20th February 2018

The Obama portraits are direct, vital, and above all, cool

The “immensely striking“ presidential portraits have unleashed a deluge of commentary, a fraction of it about the art. As Morgan Meis argued last year, figurative art is having a renaissance because of its narrative power. Kehinde Wiley in particular exemplifies this. His portraits of black men striking Old Masters’ poses redistribute “the aesthetic power of art … [the Obama work] has the aesthetic effect of a baroque portrait”.

The Harvard Art Museums present Inventur—Art in Germany, 1943–55

Amidst the reckoning in German society after WW2, what was happening in art? Harvard art museums thinks this a “missing chapter”, a period not of apathy but highly charged art making. Individuals grappled with national guilt, ruined cities and an approaching cold war. No single style predominated but collectively they articulated themes such as commercialization and technology, themes that still loom large in German art.