The Easel

3rd September 2019

Richard Serra Is Carrying the Weight of the World

A critic has suggested that Serra’s minimalist sculptures work primarily via anxiety – the worry of being crushed. If it’s not his “lighter” plate steel works causing the anxiety, it’s his immense forged steel blocks. Serra himself doesn’t seem to connect with this reaction – “deal with the work in and of itself and its inherent properties”, he suggests. True to his word, he notes “this is my heaviest show ever”.

27th August 2019

The Artist at Home with Her Art: Ruth Asawa

The craft / fine art distinction is an idea that just won’t die. Asawa studied under Josef Albers, absorbing his Bauhaus view that the artist is an “exalted craftsman”. Her beguiling knitted wire sculptures exemplify that view – a humble material transformed by manual effort. Recent exhibitions evidence growing critical engagement and endorsement. A background video is here.

William Kentridge retrospective: Africa’s largest modern art museum goes beyond identity politics

Kentridge regards himself as “basically a drawer”, taking inspiration from Johannesburg life and its “unsentimental” landscape. Starting out, he thought his work might have a “safe provincialism”. In fact, he is a major voice in African art. Sadly, even a landmark exhibition such as this is not immune from South Africa’s sour identity politics. Images are here and an interview with the artist here.