The Easel

16th March 2021

Jules Olitski in New York

Olitzky absorbed from his Abstract Expressionist predecessors not the dramatic expressive gesture but the power of colour. He launched into colour-driven abstraction, showing a colour sense that “walks a tightrope between the ravishing and the vaguely disturbing.” What gives these works a feeling of prescience is that their wonky cellular and blobby shapes signalled that Pop was just around the corner.

The Frick Madison

New York’s Frick Collection is famously housed in the mansion Frick lived in. Forced to relocate by a renovation, do its treasures look different in a modern gallery setting? The Vermeers, now hung together, have quite different relative merits. With improved lighting, the Bellini is more obviously a masterpiece. Smaller details “pop” without the clutter of Frick’s furniture. Mostly, the art is better without the “complicating aura of its Gilded Age robber baron of a founder”.