The Easel

28th September 2021

Frans Hals: The Male Portrait, review: pale, stale, male – and exhilarating

Hmm – a show exclusively of male portraits! The curatorial rationale is to celebrate the “astounding originality” of Baroque portraitist Hals and his masterpiece, The Laughing Cavalier. Done in 1624, the painting is a tour de force of vivid personality, showy fabrics and “27 [shades] of black”. Hals “revolutionized” portraiture with strategies that made his subjects “immediate, sparky, and natural”.

21st September 2021

Helen Frankenthaler: Radical Beauty, Dulwich Picture Gallery review – adventures in print

Frankenthaler has long borne criticism that paintings as pretty as hers cannot be serious. What about her woodblock prints? Described as “visions of overwhelming beauty”, they have a familial link to her paintings. Woodblock printing is complex and signs of the technique, such as wood grain, add surface texture and ‘dimensionality’ to a work. By accentuating such effects, an evidently serious Frankenthaler achieved “a paradoxical distillation of all that is painterly”.