Blackpaint 74


Keith Vaughan and others

Funny how one painter leads on to another – reading about Paul Nash (Bp. 72) I came across that beautiful picture of a curving coastline of ochre sand against a sea wall in light grey and stark black, called “The Shore”.  This took me on to Nicolas de Stael, the landscapes entitled “Marseille”, “Les Martigues”,  “Sicile” and “Montagne Sainte-Victoire” (didn’t someone else do a few of that last one?).  However, when I checked, they’re not THAT similar – maybe the sweeping distances and vivid colours… 

Anyhow, de Stael took me on to Keith Vaughan, because they both use that technique of the small rectangles of colour, almost like square scales.  You can see it for instance in de Stael’s “Parc des Princes” and “Les Footballeurs”, and Vaughan’s “Millhouse”, “Fire at Night” and many others.  de Stael used a palette knife; don’t know if Vaughan did too – doesn’t look like it to me, but the effect is similar.

Then, I found other British artists had used it too; Peter Kinley, in “Grey Coast” (and according to Norbert Lynton, some earlier ones) and Patrick Heron, in “Square Leaves”, after seeing a de Stael show in 1952.

What is the importance of this?  None, except that painters influence each other, which is a startling revelation.

While I’m on about Keith Vaughan, I must mention his “The Return of Odysseus”, in which the white, upside-down figure of the falling suitor – killed by Odysseus’ crossbow – looks like a great white Praying Mantis.  Then I found a picture of “Heath”, a decade later, with rough blue, angular, elongated legs in a spidery sprawl – and I was reminded of Wyndham – Lewis (a bit)… But this game could go on and on, so I’ll stop now.

Listening to Mahler’s “Um Mitternacht” by Kathleen Ferrier and the Vienna Philharmonic under Bruno Walter, 1952; unbelievable.  Tomorrow, back to Lonnie Donegan.

Blackpaint

22.02.10

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