The Easel

Archives: Christopher Knight

4th May 2021

The art world knew him as Eli. How Broad was friend and foe to museums

Broad gave generously of his time and money and was instrumental in making Los Angeles a major art destination. Yet his obituaries expose the ambiguities of philanthropy. Large scale philanthropy can create enduring public benefits but, from Broad, it came with a propensity to meddle. Is that any worse than the situation of public museums, blessed with deep collections but hamstrung and exhausted by limited public funding?

27th April 2021

Getty Villa reopens with ancient treasures from the Louvre

The Getty gives three solid reasons for paying attention to the art of Mesopotamia. That civilization invented the city, monarchy and writing, so its art speaks to many modern concerns. Obviously sophisticated craftsmanship testifies to ancient desires to decorate and to commemorate. Soon enough poetry emerged, and public art … and of course, the desire of rulers to portray themselves as wise and powerful. How contemporary!