The Easel

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.

20th August 2019

The Right To Dare Everything: ‘Paul Gauguin: The Art of Invention’

It must be Gauguin’s immense influence that keeps writers gnawing away at his biography. Gauguin borrowed ideas from everywhere. A synthesis had started in Brittany but emerged fully in Polynesia – a “modern aesthetic, with its direction rather toward suggestion than description”. One writer concurs: “a protean talent who influenced the course of modern painting more than anyone except Cézanne”.

David Hammons Taunts the Art World in Los Angeles

Hammons doesn’t maintain a public profile and doesn’t have a gallery relationship. If he wants to exhibit, he just asks a (“extremely blue chip”) gallery. His stellar reputation ensures ready agreement. Hammons is quoted as saying “the less I do, the more of an artist I am.” His infrequent shows are thus notable – indeed, it is difficult to decide if the linked piece reviews the art or the event.

A Depression-Era Mural, Caught in a Very Contemporary Controversy

Debate over an “insensitive” San Francisco school mural continues. Haven’t we seen this movie before? Only two years ago some advocated removing “insensitive” Confederacy-era statues. What is the principle at issue here? One writer suggests it should be the preserving of objects that “tell the stories of our lives”. Sounds reasonable – presuming that it means all stories, not just the ones we happen to like.