The Easel

29th May 2018

Before photography, the silhouette helped leave an impression

Until photography arrived around 1850, the silhouette was ubiquitous. “Like so many cultural habits of early America, the making and collecting of silhouettes was often wild and strange and slightly surreal.” Often dismissed as simplistic folk art, this art form now provides a window into the great social issues of the day – not least of which was slavery. Images are here.

Versailles for Sore Eyes

Versailles, thinks the writer, is “not nearly as good as it looks”. Louise XIV wanted a grand palace that displayed the power of his realm. Alas, attention to detail was not his forte and the architecture is uneven. Nevertheless, the interiors are fab (in places) and the gardens an inspiration to town planners everywhere. Multiple images are here and video (3 min) here.

22nd May 2018

The Hyperreal Meets The Slightly Unreal At Met Breuer ‘Life Like’ Exhibition

New York’s Met is focused on the historical but wants the crowds that contemporary art attracts. A current show combines the two. One critic is appalled – “politics by other means … indifference to distinctions of high and low art.” More, however, side with the writer: “a marvel … it’s disarmingly appealing to indulge in a show that is so rooted in pure aesthetic”.

German Art Without Jews

It is hard to look at 1930’s German art without searching for hints of the disaster to come. Yet there is little sign of prophesy in these works. The prevailing style – “New Objectivity – was rooted in the politics of the day, if not the ghosts of WWI. One commented later that catastrophe was not suddenly visible; it revealed itself slowly through the details of ordinary life.