The Easel

24th July 2018

The Door Policy

So-called “outsider” artists are rarely shown in museums. The outsider label implies that these artists “lack the agency or self-awareness of their educated peers.” An outstanding Washington show reveals that such art actually has “overwhelming strength. By showing us the dazzling pluralism of the past century [the show weaves] a richer tapestry of American art history.”

Rethinking the utopian vision of the Bauhaus

Bauhaus – perhaps the most hallowed name in architecture and design – espoused an egalitarian modern life. On closer examination, a new book argues, it actually pursued “an elitist, aristocratic notion of taste.” This contradiction hastened the school’s demise but its wonderful modernist ideas lived on, eventually finding a market – in distant, wealthy post-war America.

Henry Taylor’s Promiscuous Painting

Elegant background essay on an artist who, in the blink of an eye, has gone from ‘recognised’ to ‘high profile’. Taylor’s portraiture is wildly divergent – from the famous to the homeless. Its common thread is “the African American aesthetic tradition” and his empathetic eye. Smith puts it succinctly “Other people look: Taylor sees”.

New York’s MoMA Shines a Light on Socialist Yugoslav Architecture

The former Yugoslavia ended badly. Yet, after its expulsion from the Soviet bloc, it enjoyed an optimistic outlook. The architecture was remarkable, a far cry from the drab constructions elsewhere in Eastern Europe. There was “an abundant presence of design culture… in a socialist country. It was an aspect we tended not to see.” More images are here.

17th July 2018

The Utopian Vision of Bodys Isek Kinglez

Kingelez desired a glorious future for Kinshasa. It inspired him to build imagined utopian cities out of cardboard, Styrofoam and scavenged materials. His “extreme maquettes” display “the rigor of an aesthetic as sophisticated as that of an Alexander Calder or a Joseph Cornell … [and possess] the invincibility of uncompromised, unflagging, sheer desire.”