The Easel

13th December 2022

He may have been an antisemite, but he knew great Jewish art when he saw it

When Modigliani died in 1920 the contents of his studio were lost.  A team of historians and conservators is working to fill gaps in our knowledge of his working methods. Some examples. His stylized oval faces only appeared after a mid-career detour into sculpture. His colours were complex – “a black is never just a black; he also introduces blues and reds”. Far from his reputed wild bohemian ways, Modigliani the artist was “stylistically restrained and highly skilled”. Images are here.

At the MFA, ‘Frank Bowling’s Americas’ is a pivotal show for an artist who’s impossible to peg

Bowling was a star art student in early 1960’s London before moving to New York. There, his style shifted toward abstraction – not “pure” abstraction but abstraction that incorporated narrative elements. This evolution reflected Bowling’s “bewilderment” – an outsider observing art amidst teeming social unrest. With hindsight, his art provides a “clarifying” perspective on that troubled period and is a reminder of the need to “constantly rethink what we consider the ‘canon’ to be.”

A classic Venetian artist gets his big moment at the National Gallery

Although a leading light of the Venetian Renaissance, Carpaccio is seldom shown outside Italy. Why so little exposure? Many of his most famous works are huge and too fragile to travel. Later Venetian painters, notably Tintoretto and Titian, made Carpaccio’s work seem “old fashioned”. And, some late career works are “rather bland”.  At his best, though, he was a superb storyteller who, more than any contemporary, brought “sacred history to life” for his city. More background and images are here.