The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

September 8, 2016
by Dan
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Luc Sante on Jean-Michel Basquiat

New York Review of Books blog has posted Luc Sante’s reminiscences of artist Jean-Michel Basquait: The last time I saw Jean I was going home from work, had just passed through the turnstile at the 57th Street BMT station. We … Continue reading

September 2, 2016
by Dan
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Ed Ruscha: Buildings and Words

Ed Ruscha: Buildings and Words is a short documentary, commissioned by MOCA in Los Angeles, exploring two of the recurring themes in the artist’s work. It was written and directed by Felipe Lima, and is narrated by Owen Wilson: Apparently Ruscha calls his font ‘Boy Scout … Continue reading

July 13, 2015
by Dan
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Geoff McFetridge: Table Talk

The set up of this interview with artist Geoff McFetridge is a little too cool for school, but the artist himself is disarmingly nerdy:  

June 8, 2015
by Dan
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The Endless Combinations of Robert Rauschenberg

At the New York Times, Dan Chiasson visits the archive of the late Robert Rauschenberg, currently housed in a high-security warehouse in Westchester, N.Y.. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it looks “a little like a cross between Charles Foster Kane’s Xanadu and a suburban Lowe’s”: A source material, for … Continue reading

March 14, 2014
by Dan
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Modernity as Catastrophe

At the London Review of Books, Hal Foster reviews the exhibition of Italian Futurism currently at the Guggenheim in New York: Futurism wasn’t all bravado; it did have an aesthetic (or anti-aesthetic) of its own, which was to modernise the arts through a … Continue reading

December 12, 2013
by Dan
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Norman Rockwell, American Romantic

Christopher Benfey reviews American Mirror, Deborah Solomon’s recently published biography of artist Norman Rockwell, for the New York Review of Books: Solomon spends more time than Rockwell did worrying about his status in comparison with what she calls the “Abstract … Continue reading

November 26, 2013
by Dan
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Julian Barnes on Lucian Freud

Julian Barnes reviews two recent books about the painter Lucian Freud — Man with a Blue Scarf by Martin Gayford and Breakfast with Lucian by Geordie Greig — for The London Review of Books: Freud was always a painter of the Great Indoors. Even … Continue reading

May 28, 2013
by Dan
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In London’s darkness, and my tears fall

At the London Review of Books, writer Iain Sinclair reviews ‘London Lanscapes’, an exhibition of Leon Kossoff’s drawings at Annely Juda Fine Art, London: I was thrown off-balance by the intense energy of these marks: the dashes, counter-strokes, over-reaching arcs, … Continue reading

May 24, 2013
by Dan
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TateShots: Ed Ruscha

TateShots visits artist Ed Ruscha his studio in Los Angeles:

May 1, 2013
by Dan
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Midweek Miscellany

I was locked a conference room last week looking at books coming out in the fall, so tI have a lot of catching up to do… At the Financial Times, Andrew O’Hagan on the influence of other art forms on … Continue reading

December 17, 2012
by Dan
2 Comments

Oliver Jeffers: A Quantum of Physics

Gestalten.tv talks to Oliver Jeffers, award-winning author of picture books such as Lost and Found, The Incredible Book Eating Boy, and This Moose Belongs to Me,  about his paintings, collages, installations, and collaborative works, collected in his first monograph Neither Here Nor … Continue reading

November 2, 2012
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

A rather brilliant cover for The Yellow World by Albert Espinosa, reminiscent of a Matisse cut-out or a Paul Rand illustration, designed by Jon Gray. The Sickly Glow — John Banville, author most recently of Ancient Light, reviews The Big … Continue reading

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