The Easel

26th June 2018

Georg Baselitz is an overrated hack. Art collectors fell for him – but you don’t have to

Ouch! After positive reviews in Switzerland the Baselitz retrospective has opened in Washington to an absolute pasting. Decrying Baselitz’s “bloated reputation” and odd decision to display his works upside down, the writer continues: “[H]is sense of color is haphazard and his drawing weak … he has never quite managed to tie his influences … into taut and commanding art.”

5 Things You (Probably) Don’t Know About Georg Jensen

Many illustrious design studios, such as the Bauhaus, struggled for profitability. Jensen avoided this fate by finding a broad clientele and having a distinctive aesthetic – “combining gleaming sculptural forms and lush ornament. Hammer marks are a unique part of what the house does … [it] almost gives the pieces a little bit of a soul as opposed to bling.”

Thomas Gainsborough: Experiments in Drawing

Facing huge demand for his society portraits, Gainsborough relaxed by drawing landscapes. And he wasn’t just doodling. Unlike highly geometric French landscapes, he showed “picturesque” nature – irregular and meandering. It was a new vision of nature making him the “progenitor of an English landscape tradition” carried forward by Constable and Turner. “He was a one-man avant-garde.”

19th June 2018

In Iranian art show at LACMA, the past wrestles with the present

A big show in LA seeks to introduce the art of Iran. A key idea is that Iranian visual arts have always merged historical and modern imagery. “By evoking the past, Iranian artists create new visual metaphors to describe their present day.” Fine. But if you are not an expert, and without explanatory wall texts, grumbles the reviewer, many pieces are ”insular and unengaging”.

Ed Ruscha Still Has Plenty More to Say About America

Appreciative bio piece on the American artist who is currently enjoying a high-profile year. His reputation rests on an ability to pinpoint commonplace words or objects that are more than they seem. ““I like any attention given to something that doesn’t require attention” … He showed me a recent work with the phrase MOP UP ON AISLE TWO. “I heard this in a department store””.