The Easel

3rd November 2020

JMW Turner: Narrating A Modern World

Turner, the Romantic, “enjoyed going to extremes”. Why paint a placid river when the tempestuous sea was available? Even better, the sea – which he painted hundreds of times – was diverse and changeable, a challenge to Turner’s “supreme energy”. Some of his watercolours seem prophetic – “like scribbles made by Jackson Pollock”. Not that he was trying to be prophetic; he was “making art for one primary audience – for himself,”

Tim Clark – interview: ‘This set of Hokusai’s drawings is a really important piece of the jigsaw’

A newly uncovered set of Hokusai drawings shows that, well before Japan had opened itself to the world, he was a “world artist”. The drawings incorporate European ideas about perspective and use images from ancient China and India. Hokusai received commissions from the Dutch East India Company. Van Gogh was a huge fan. His human poses have a “fundamental humanism. People compare it to Rembrandt and I think that is a very good comparison.”

27th October 2020

Bruce Nauman

A London retrospective demonstrates Nauman’s huge influence. Deft neon text pieces, quirky sculptures and incisive video work, all are examples of his “transformative presence”. Gushes one artist, his work is “so nimble and so complicated”. He offers us “a bewildering array of gifts. There’s humour in his work, but it’s always nervy and problematic, never open-hearted or fun … a perfect fit for the Covid world”.