The Easel

7th November 2023

Judy Chicago Didn’t Stop at ‘The Dinner Party’

The art world is all the better for Chicago’s long career. Art in 1960’s LA was a man’s game and Chicago’s demands for access weren’t appreciated. Early minimalist works, glossy and in soft colours, were deemed “too feminine”. Now, they are “exhilarating”. However, perhaps her activism distracted her from her art, one critic noting that some works are “clumsy and crass”. The writer seems to agree – “not all of women’s work is about womanhood.”

3rd October 2023

In an unforgettable new show, Manet and Degas are much more than rivals

The best review by far of this “stupendous” show. The Monet-Degas friendship formed over a shared antipathy toward the “listless” art establishment. Degas was interested in “psychological interiority” while Manet focused on devastating painterly technique. Friends became frenemies as they strove to make “modern” imagery. In their relationship, “the dynamic of rivalry is never resolved. How much did they hate each other [becomes] how much did they love each other?”

The Art of the Great Depression

Facing the Depression, the US government funded employment creation. This included “art for the millions” as a way to promote American cultural identity. Male images predominated with few female workers or workers of colour. Small town imagery, evocative of American values, was promoted as was photojournalism and modern design. The end result was a familiar melange: “consumerism and moderation, tradition and innovation, and imperialism and cultural tolerance”.