The Easel

3rd March 2020

The cold, imperious beauty of Donald Judd

Realising that his paintings were a bit so-so, Judd switched to 3-D “objects” (boxes to you and I). Even though abstract expressionism was dominant, this work made a big splash. This New York retrospective acknowledges that Judd’s minimal aesthetic is now so influential it is “engulfing”. Still, his objects are visually austere. “I would tell you my emotional responses to the gorgeous [Judd] works … if I had any”.

‘Vida Americana’ Is the Most Relevant Show of the 21st Century

After the Mexican Revolution, leading artists such as Rivera, Siqueiros, and Orozco left for the US. There they greatly influenced artists like Jackson Pollock and Phillip Guston who were “looking for a way around Picasso”. A “stupendous” show acknowledges their contribution. “Siqueiros [works] … are among the most physically original and innovative paintings of the 20th century.” A video (6 min) is here.

25th February 2020

Hammer Museum’s ‘Paul McCarthy: Head Space’ draws a revelatory picture of L.A. artist

McCarthy’s own gallery describes his oeuvre as “anarchic”. So where should a retrospective focus? Hammer Museum chooses drawing, a constant in his long career. Surrealism and Expressionism were formative influences. Unifying McCarthy’s diverse output is his constant attention to one key theme: “overwhelming physical, psychological and emotional toxicity within a culture that elevates beastly male power above all else”.

‘Just Plain Ugly’: Proposed Executive Order Takes Aim At Modern Architecture

Political leaders have long expressed particular architectural preferences. Perhaps President Trump is one of them. Critical of Brutalist and Modernist styles, a proposed Executive Order requires new Federal buildings to use Classical designs. That means lots of Greek columns. Architects of all stripes are outraged. Sneers one writer, “a return to the cultural aspirations of Camelot.” Background on the issue is here.