The Easel

19th December 2023

The Triumph of Dana Schutz

A modern redemption story? In 2017 Schutz was excoriated for a painting of a socially sensitive subject. Everyone has moved on – mostly – and her new work is being acclaimed. Intricate paintings, in thick oils, are allegorical, “luridly iridescent moonscapes … giant marionette-like figures with spidery limbs and oversize heads.” Somehow, the impending chaos of all this detail is kept in check by her “stately composition”. Says one critic “one of America’s best painters”.

Robert Storr, the Bad Boy of Curating, Is Back, With a Large Group of Misfits, To Induce ‘Retinal Hysteria’

Despairing about the world? Storr, a renowned curator and writer, is interested in art that has that vibe – works that “vibrate with panic, uncontrollable anger, out-of-control laughter, orgasmic release”. Reviewers seem non-plussed at his show of provocative, irritating artworks – presumably a sign they didn’t like it. Storr responds, “like is a relatively weak emotion to have in relation to [a piece of] art. I have noticed it, and that signals to me it is substantial and strong.” An interview with Storr is here.

This Manet portrait of Berthe Morisot is ablaze with mutual attraction

A deep dive into one famous painting on which the writer is an expert. Manet was a conventional fellow and married but was bowled over on meeting Berthe Morisot in the Louvre. An affair being improper, he instead settled for painting her – repeatedly. “Manet responded to the sensuous charge in things … as the very flavor of a civilized existence. Without a whisper of doting, [Manet’s Repose] is a lesson in how to love”.