The Easel

24th March 2020

How Artist Brian Clarke Is Pushing the Medium of Stained Glass

From his earliest days, Clarke set out to revolutionise stained glass. He has done so, taking it “out of the cathedral into the secular world”. Combining traditional glassblowing with modern architectural glass has eliminated the need for lead supports and created a contemporary art form “at the highest level of poetic achievement”. And he is not finished “I want to surpass the Middle Ages, not equal them.” A background piece is here.

The Met’s Just-Opened Galleries Cast a New Light on British Decorative Arts

The renovated galleries for British decorative arts at New York’s Met are “a triumph”. What stories do they tell? One is that these objects reflect an entrepreneurial global power drawing inspiration from everywhere. But there are other narratives, notably colonization and slavery. Take, for example, the teapot: “tea has a far more illicit history than any drug or hard liquor … conditions on the plantations were shocking”.

10th March 2020

Against understanding

Richter is a skeptic. Perhaps this reflects his background – growing up with East Germany’s Socialist Realist aesthetic; and as a German, processing the memory of WWII. Some paintings begin with a photographic image which is then worked until virtually gone. Richter is, says one critic, the “greatest of living painters”. This writer offers a different perspective: “a master of indissoluble ambivalence”. (via Google Translate)

How ‘The Gates’ Triumphed Over New York’s NIMBYs

An appreciation of the 2005 The Gates project of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Bureaucrats initially declared it “the wrong project, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.” Fourteen years later it was realised. “The gates were … a live civic spectacle, proof that a vision could serve as a beacon to the public commons. Witnessing the gates as a visitor felt peaceful — even underwhelming. It was supposed to be.”