The Easel

22nd October 2019

MoMA’s Art Treasure, No Longer Buried

Reviews of the “new” MoMA are numerous and positive. Its much enlarged building is slick, a bit like an Apple store. Art by old white males is less dominant. Critically, MoMA has discarded its view of art history as an inevitable, cumulating sequence of art movements in London, Paris and New York. Great art, it now thinks, happens everywhere. “The museum could be on its way to its second round of greatness.”

Resilience: Philip Guston In 1971

In 1970 Guston was an esteemed abstractionist – but he wanted out. He returned to figuration. His first show of that work caused such uproar that he fled to Rome. There he was prolific. Unflattering drawings of President Nixon; deliberately clumsy paintings of lumpy figures and lumpy objects. The paintings, now famous, have a human feel but are obscure. Guston agreed: “I look at my paintings, speculate about them. They baffle me, too.”

Who is Michael Jang?

Three cheers for municipal arts programs. As a student, Jang’s hobby was street photography. This interest was crowded out as his career in commercial photography developed. Decades later, an astonished local art curator came across Jang’s early work, leading to exhibitions and, now, a monograph. Ever-modest, Jang thinks his work is dated, but then wonders “Maybe they’ll be like Twinkies and will last forever”. More images are here.

15th October 2019

‘Art & Race Matters’: First Comprehensive Retrospective of Robert Colescott Opens at CAC Cincinnati This Week

Colescott didn’t mind tackling difficult topics like racism one little bit. Besides his use of saturated colours, he wielded another weapon – incisive wit. “The vibrancy of his works’ seduced from afar, eliciting an ‘Oh wow!’ from viewers who might then mutter ‘Oh shit!’ when [looking] up close.” He was, as one writer notes, “always playing for more than seems apparent.”

More Than 30 Acclaimed Collages By Legendary Black Artist Romare Bearden Reunited For First Time In Nearly 40 Years

Having made it as an artist, Bearden decided to paint his own story. The resulting series of pictures does not yield a simple narrative. Bearden was a light-skinned African American, middle class and broadly accomplished. Although anchored in African American culture, his life was multi-layered. This series, says one writer, “undermines the exhausted premises of 21st century identity politics.”