The Easel

21st May 2019

Stop Hating Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons sculptures irk many, perhaps because their “badness is a foregone conclusion”.  This writer pushes back on such views. “He has changed sculpture… reviving it with different materials … brought color into sculpture with a new fierceness and complexity. The beauty of even his best works elicits a visceral, embarrassing object lust. Liking them can feel creepy.”

14th May 2019

The ecstatic nihilism of the painter Alberto Burri

After internment in Texas, Burri returned to an Italy impoverished by war. These straightened circumstances suited his interest in unconventional materials – burlap, tar, plastics. His radical idea was to present “material as the subject matter itself”. Rauschenberg and Johns were just two of many disciples. “Brutally gorgeous paintings” says the writer. Images are here.

Nari Ward

In the 1990’s Ward made art using stuff found on the streets of his Harlem neighbourhood. His acclaimed work embodied “the accidental aesthetics of street life” and was, of course, political. Harlem is now gentrifying. Ward’s work is perhaps also changing, less immediately political, more aimed at where “politics and poetics find common purpose”.