A small postscript on yesterday’s comments – I checked the internet for pictures by the three women artists that Greer mentioned yesterday; Helen Lessore, Silvia Gosse and Hilda Carline. Very little for Lessore and Carline, more for Gosse, but some of them turned out to be by Sickert! Excellent self-portrait and an interesting abstract by Carline. A portrait of Patricia Preece too, fully clothed and clearly older than in the Spencer nude picture, with a thoughtful and very much alive expression.
There was more stuff on the above by Adrian Searle yesterday, that I didn’t get to mention because I was preoccupied with Spencer et al. He highlights the “Jekyll and Hyde” nature of Van D., who had another persona, the Dadaist “IK Bonset”. When he wanted to escape(?) from the De Stijl type artist he just adopted this other identity and did what he liked. He even got his wife Nelly to put on a false moustache and pose for a not very convincing photo portrait of “Bonset”.
What a great idea – pretty obvious I suppose, but it sounds quite liberating to me. I’m working on my other persona now. Maybe several….
That Greer stuff has got me thinking about “ugly” in art; she obviously hates those pictures by Spencer, maybe Freud too, which show women’s bodies in unflattering lights, poses, and with flaws present. I think they have a sort of beauty; that’s a matter of taste. What about Bacon? I find a lot of Bacons beautiful too, especially the portraits of Dyer (the one with the bifurcated head, in a mirror is it?), Muriel Belcher and Isabel Rawsthorne. The compositions and colours are “pleasing” too, in some way. So some of them depict violence and pain – the National Gallery is full of crucifixions and beheadings and tortures, mostly depicted in beautiful colours and settings. I found the stuff in that “Sacred Made Real” exhibition really ugly and depressing; couldn’t wait to get out and go upstairs for some crosses under blue skies.
I think the only paintings that I’ve seen that really horrify me are those by Marlene Dumas – the dead women’s portraits and the kid with bloody hands. I’d be really interested to know what Germaine Greer thinks about them. Any other offers? Interesting that you can buy (rather expensively) little toys of Bosche’s monsters in the NG gift shop – they were once considered horrifying, I suppose.
Trying to do a figurative painting, using the “fractured surface” look I did in last two paintings – it’s not going well, as can be seen below.
Listening to “Ain’t no more Cane on the Brazos”, by Lonnie Donegan. Yes, I know he nicked it and was a Leadbelly copyist – but I like it.
“You should-a been on the river nineteen and four,
Oh, oh, oh, oh,
“You’d-a find many dead men, most every row,
Oh, oh, oh, oh.”