The Easel

Archives: Boston Globe

7th June 2015

Prada Foundation collections refresh view of antiquities

A Venice exhibition of ancient sculptures explores a decidedly contemporary issue – copying.  Most ancient sculptures are Roman copies of Greek originals. Further, the Greek ‘originals’ themselves may commonly have been brightly painted serial replicas. The reviewer’s punchline – “…they may have looked more like Jeff Koons’s gaudy production-line confections than we may feel comfortable admitting.”

Leonardo’s drawings at centre of MFA show

Da Vinci can bowl us over –  even with his drawings. “Notice… her left cheek (on the right of her face) has no defining contour, just perfectly modulated shading. Also, that her hair and shoulders are only summarily sketched in. And that the top of her head simply peters out. All this conspires, by force of contrast, to give the woman’s exquisitely modeled face more immediacy…. Isn’t this just how we perceive a beautiful face that has turned to meet our gaze?”

6th June 2015

Japan’s Kano art dynasty showcased in Philadelphia

As da Vinci and Michelangelo were enjoying prominence in Renaissance Europe, the Kano family was emerging as the most influential group of painters in shogunate Japan. With genius painters appearing in a succession of generations, this family dominated the evolution of Japanese art for nearly four centuries.  “…probably the greatest exhibition of Japanese art anywhere in the world this year (and the finest ever devoted to Kano painters)”