The Easel

8th October 2019

Kara Walker debuts monumental fountain in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall

Kara Walker is having a moment in London. There is a survey of her acclaimed films that deal with slavery in America’s Antebellum South. A newly commissioned sculpture looks, at first glance, like British Empire bombast. Closer inspection shows it to contain figures that speak to Britain’s colonial past – “playful and inviting, yet brutal in its core.  A video (4 min) is here.

Who’s Afraid of the Baroque?

Canova was born soon after the death of Bernini, Baroque sculpture’s great genius. His early works share Baroque’s ornamentation but that style was under attack. “Revolutionary energies” were afoot, not least from independent America. Canova captured these perfectly, becoming the pioneer of neoclassicism. His figures “are dry, airy and delicate … a singular attempt to communicate recognizably modern desires and fears.”

Paris will install controversial Jeff Koons gift on the Champs-Élysées

Jeff Koons has gifted a sculpture to Paris to honour terrorist attack victims. Controversy has dogged the project and, now unveiled,  its public reception is mixed. Initially intended for a location close to upmarket shopping, it has instead been placed in a public garden “partly obscured from view by trees.” A city official observes “some excess in a beautiful place – that represents Paris pretty well”.