The Easel

28th January 2020

Käthe Kollwitz: War and other atrocities at the Getty Research Institute

Kollwitz’s life spanned social upheaval in Germany plus both world wars. Ample opportunity to observe life’s sorrows. Like others in the German avant-garde she took to woodblock prints, becoming one of the foremost graphic artists of the century. Kollwitz’s socialist leanings are clear but it is her humanistic outlook that gives resonance to her images and conveys “dignity and respect” to the cause of social justice.

John Baldessari Was Anything But Boring

In 1970, dissatisfied with his art, Baldessari took all his paintings to a crematorium and burned them. He called this action his “best work to date”. That set the tone for a half century of his conceptual art, up to his recent death. Widely influential, his work combined insight, humour and the obvious. One work simply bore the text “everything is purged from this painting but art, no ideas have entered this work.”

24th December 2019

Theater of Operations

What should art about war look like? Works by Goya and Picasso come to mind – arresting imagery, abstracted from reality. The Iraq war, as seen on TV, was curated to seem easy and tidy. Few challenged this falsehood and the work of some artists seems “smoothly dutiful”. The awkward question posed by this show – “how should we look at those art objects that spring from crisis but shrink from witness?”