The Easel

21st August 2018

Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment at the International Center of Photography

Cartier-Bresson is synonymous with the term ‘the decisive moment’. That is often taken to mean a split-second action shot – like his famous image of a man jumping a puddle. But, as a New York show highlights, this view is too narrow. Cartier-Bresson’s aim was bigger; to capture the ephemeral event that revealed a bigger truth, to “”trap” life – to preserve life in the act of living.”

‘Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography’ at the Getty Museum reveals the limits of the art form

A survey of fashion photography exposes some deep fault lines – notably, is fashion photography art? One reviewer makes the case strongly, even while admitting it is the “bastard stepchild of the fine art world”. This writer is unsatisfied. Of course it is art, but “of a distinctly minor sort. As art, fashion photography is thinner than a supermodel. Call it anorexia aesthetica.”

14th August 2018

Paradise Is Found Underfoot in These Majestic Persian Textiles

For Persian royalty in the 17th century, bliss was a walled garden with water channels. Carpets, which they took with them when they travelled, adopted garden design motifs. The legendary Wagner carpet, on display in New York for the first time, is a most spectacular example. Its pattern is fabulously detailed, invoking a well-ordered natural world – “a mirror of heaven”.

When a Rock Is a Stone: Finding “Spiral Jetty

An appreciation. Spiral Jetty was built in 1970 by land artist Robert Smithson on the shore of a remote salt lake. Its once pink water has now dried up. “As the jetty coiled leftward into its spiral, I thought of those left-spiraling lightning whelks, gorgeous mollusks … Dante’s pilgrims descend a sinistra — into the funnel of hell. Toward heaven, they ascend a destra, to the right.”