The Easel


Lucien Freud: The Self Portraits, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Without a whole lot of anagrammatical labor, “modern master,” which is a term most people in the art game apply to Lucian Freud, becomes “monster made,” which might well describe—to some, anyway—both the artist and his art. Freud might actually like that. Lucian’s Freud’s biography makes bad boy Paul Gauguin—whose life and work I just…

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Is The Painting Counting?

To grasp the excitement (positive and negative) produced by Jasper Johns’s flag and target paintings of the mid- to late 1950s, you have to consider the situation of American painting at the time. That means thinking about Abstract Expressionism. In the mid-1950s, Barnett Newman was still making his zips. Willem de Kooning was churning out…

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Richard Smith: The Incredible Lightness Of Being

Richard Smith has never tried to be mysterious. Indeed, he has programmatically rejected illusionism as optical trickery, intentionally exposing how his works are made, what they are made of and the sources of their inspiration. In the early Sixties, he was at the center of the “swinging London” scene that revolved around the Institute of…

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