The Easel

31st March 2020

The radical transformation of Madame D’Ora

In fin-de-siècle Vienna, Kallmus made her first career in charming but conventional fashion photography and society portraiture. After WW2, her focus shifted radically to the “unperfumed world” of refugees and slaughterhouses. A survey show is fascinating not because of any one image but because of this “strangely inevitable swerve, … penance [to] make up for the slick lies that preceded them.” A video (4 min) is here.

24th March 2020

How Artist Brian Clarke Is Pushing the Medium of Stained Glass

From his earliest days, Clarke set out to revolutionise stained glass. He has done so, taking it “out of the cathedral into the secular world”. Combining traditional glassblowing with modern architectural glass has eliminated the need for lead supports and created a contemporary art form “at the highest level of poetic achievement”. And he is not finished “I want to surpass the Middle Ages, not equal them.” A background piece is here.

The Met’s Just-Opened Galleries Cast a New Light on British Decorative Arts

The renovated galleries for British decorative arts at New York’s Met are “a triumph”. What stories do they tell? One is that these objects reflect an entrepreneurial global power drawing inspiration from everywhere. But there are other narratives, notably colonization and slavery. Take, for example, the teapot: “tea has a far more illicit history than any drug or hard liquor … conditions on the plantations were shocking”.