Archive for July, 2010

Blackpaint 171

July 24, 2010

Michelangelo

His St. Matthew statue, emerging from the marble, brandishing a bible in left hand and with a curious square structure in chest region, looks like some sculpture from the 1910’s or 20’s – Gill maybe, but rougher of course; Epstein? Not really, but that era.  Later, I’ll be looking at something Michaael Craig-Martin said about drawing, how it can bridge the ages whereas sculpture and painting can’t; I think this is an exception.  It was  made as part  of the grandiose Julius Tomb project, which led to furious rows between Julius II and Michelangelo, and a flight from Rome to Florence by M.

Drawing

My moaning in Bp.170 about the Adrian Searle article was caused by the fact that articles exalting the process of drawing often go on to use it as an opportunity to attack Abstract Expressionism (carefully excluding de Kooning and a few others) on the grounds that they have to do abstracts because they can’t draw.  William Boyd, I think, was the last one I read putting this view forward.  Robert Hughes, in his diatribes against Basquiat and Schnabel, dismissed a later generation of artists on these lines, but would not include the earlier Ab Exes, whose integrity and importance are manifest.

The tone of this precious stuff about the supremacy of drawing can at times reach amusing levels – try the correspondence between John Berger and Leon Kossoff in the Penguin Book of Art Writing;   no doubt, they are both most sincere in their mutual praise, but even so, it’s a bit much…

Michael Craig-Martin

What he said was that drawings of great artists from  all ages can “speak directly to each other” in a way that paintings and sculpture cannot.  “The drawings of Rembrandt can speak directly to the work of Beckmann or Guston, …Leonardo to Newman or Andre, Michelangelo to Duchamp…”; paintings are more rooted in historical values, have a “cultural as well as  a physical density” that it is hard to transcend.

I suppose this boils down to “Some drawings look as if they could have been done yesterday or a thousand years ago, because techniques of shading etc. haven’t changed that much”.  That sounds fair enough, but the rest of the assertions need clarification, at least;  HOW exactly do Leonardo’s drawings speak directly to Newman or Andre?  We’ll never know, because this is art writing.

Barnett Newman

Since I’ve mentioned him, I have to refer to his appearance on “Painters Painting” DVD I blogged about in 170.  Drink and smoke in  hand (like all the rest), a bit tearful, looking like  anything but an  American Ab Ex in his tight suit and thick  moustache.  In the Penguin art book, he makes the wonderful, wild assertion that the creative, artistic  urge came before anything else for primitive man.  The whole article is a statement of pride really in his “calling”, although I’m not sure he would have called it  that.  Anyway, after reading that, I saw  his green zip painting in the DVD – anything you say is right, Mr. Newman.

Tom McCarthy

While we are on assertions, lovely one in the Guardian Review today from the above; in Blake’s Tyger, Tyger the beast represents the Industrial Revolution.  Blackpaint says: No, it doesn’t.  I thought the stuff on Finnegans Wake was interesting, though, containing as  it did assertions with which I agree.

Work in progress, by Blackpaint

22.07.10

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Blackpaint 170

July 22, 2010

Alice Neel at Whitechapel

At first glance, I thought these would be mediocre, a bit sketchy, not finished off properly, dull colours like Neue Sachlichkeit stuff – portraits, boring.  Second glance proved me drastically wrong. 

They look as if done quickly, impressionistic, an element of caricature and definitely a touch of NS, Christian Schad, Modersohn – Becker.  I even got a taste of Diane Arbus from the flat stares and awkward poses.  Sometimes, they taper off into mere outline (hands,  legs, sofas).  However, they clearly capture the idiosyncracies of the subjects – a frown, slight sneer, complacent smirk, nervous glance, effusive smile… 

The best portraits: the youth Hartley, Andy Warhol with his scars and several inches of underpants,  the two men immediately on your right as you enter – the serious man in the sleeveless pullover against the Duccio yellow background (or is it more Van Gogh sunflower?), and the fierce man with the slight sneer in the next picture.  Look at the shiny patch on his forehead. 

Her flesh tones are greenish, apart from the pregnant women and babies upstairs.  She used a heavy black outline in the 50’s and 60’s, changing to a Van Gogh-like light blue outline in the 70’s and 80’s.

Upstairs are the pregnant women, mothers and fat, staring, slightly sinister babies (Small Assassin, Ray Bradbury would have recognised them).  one of the women in particular looks dazed and desperate, the picture earning Neel feminist acclaim.  There is a beautiful, young, pregnant woman on a sofa facing the doors, the line of her figure strong and confident, as if done with one sure, single stroke.

In the next room, old age; dim eyes, arthritic knuckles, hunched postures – but still, all recognisable individuals with their vanities and concerns.  Her own self portrait is here, naked and unflattering (of course, stupid to think it might be).

There are some clinkers here, though; I thought the buildings were poor, as was most of the stuff from the thirties and the man with three pricks was like a really bad imitation of R. Crumb.  There were a couple of nasty caricatures, both of arty women.  A flattering portrait of a woman academic she obviously liked had a big patch of red, some ochre I think, and some grey scribble in the background, prompting someone to say on the blurb that this showed Neel could have been an Abstract Expressionist – utter rubbish on this evidence.  But, on the whole, a great exhibition.  I’d like to see it with some Lucian Freuds, to compare their approaches.

Painters on Painting 

DVD on sale at the Whitechapel; saw it at the ICA some months ago.  The magnificence of some of the paintings is too great to exaggerate; Hoffman, de Kooning, Rauschenberg, Johns, Pollock, Frankenthaler, underlining the sheer offensive silliness of that snide remark on the caption in the Neel exhibition.  Unfortunately, some of these boys can really ramble on.  Frank Stella is like Woody Allen, obsessed with critics who found his work cold compared with Ab Exes.  Jasper Johns, like a drawling character from Frasier and Jules Olitsky, obsessed with the edges of his paintings and brandishing a huge cat (as if about to dip it in paint and swipe it across the canvas.

Adrian Searle

In the Guardian, reviewing a drawing exhibition at the White Cube and a book by Deanna Petherbridge “the Primacy of Drawing” (says it all, really), quotes her as follows: “Drawing is the basis of all art and visual thinking…Drawing renders thoughts visible”.  Sorry, when I draw, I draw – when I paint, I paint.  I don’t, usually, do sketches.  I think painting is a different, but not lesser, process; unless, of course, you define sweeps of the brush or dabbles in the paint as drawing.  I think, unlike Robert Hughes and his followers, that you – sorry, some painters –  can produce magnificent paintings that are not based on drawing prowess, and many Ab Ex and others have done just that.

I’m pleased to say that Kenneth Noland more or less says just that in the DVD.  He calls it One Shot painting.  Good on you, Kenneth; RIP.

Hereward 1, by Blackpaint

Blackpaint

22.07.10

Blackpaint 169

July 20, 2010

Gillian Ayres

I compared one of my paintings to an Ayres picture called “Hinba” the other day; quite wrong.  Her surface positively seethes, mine is inert – Andrews Liver Salts compared to still water. 

Kiefer, Jorn etc.

The thing about German and Scandinavian artists like the above is that they have that “dark” mythology to fall back on.  It was a brilliant idea (whoever had it first) to start mining this sort of stuff for pictures – you can have, for example, childlike figures in bright colours and amusing shapes looming out of foggy, gloomy backgrounds, great  flares and swirls of colour making ghosts and maelstroms, erupting insect figures… a great combination of innocence and menace, hidden depths and all that.  I’m thinking of pictures like Kiefer’s “Song of the Wayland” and the Jorn “Out of the Silent Myth” series.

Not a path really open to an English artist; plenty of history, of course, but all a bit pageanty, kings and queens, not much in the way of mythology.  Stonehenge, of course, Robin Hood, Hereward the Wake, King Arthur…..   OK, that’s it, I’m going to do an abstract mythological series based on England – Druids, Blake, satanic mills, soldiers of the Empire slogging through Burmese jungles behind giant moustaches, and its all going to be abstract.

Oil Surfaces

Fairly encouraged by the early results with oils; the thickness and richness as it is forced out out of the tube, the way it slides about on the canvas and stays slimy – a bit disgusting really, like a snail trail or something more obscene…

For oil surfaces, it has to be Christopher Wool, with his black and grey sweeps, or Bram Van Velde (the slidy triangles), or see Raimunde Girke’s “Contrast” 1992, in Taschen Art of the 20th Century – or Jasper Johns’ paintings, or de Kooning, of course.

Corneille and Eva Hesse

Latest pair arriving at same point at same time (moving apart later, but similarities startling in early 60’s);  abstract land- or city scapes with knots of multi coloured blocks like warehouses, tied together with faux rail lines, coiling around humps and ditches.  See “The Big Red Sun’s Voyage” 63 or “On the Outskirts of the Big City” 60, both by Corneille and Eva Hesse’s two “No titles” (annoying!), done in 1963 and in “Action Painting – Jackson Pollock”, Hatje Cantz, 2008.

Alice Neel

At the Whitechapel Gallery.  Saw it today, lots to say, so will review tomorrow.  However, I was most impressed by an installation of Maria Abramovic elsewhere  in the gallery.  Five TV screens piled on top of each other,  in each one part of the process of washing and scrubbing a skeleton clean.  At the top the jaws and teeth, at  the bottom the toe bones.  Greyish, soapy water sluicing down, a woman’s hands scooping and scrubbing inside the ribcage, beteen the finger and toe bones, the coccyx (or was it the end of the sternum?)…  I could feel the fingers on my own bones and had to be called away by my partner.  Rather worrying, really.

First Oil, Blackpaint

listening to Death Valley Blues by Big Joe Williams

“I went down in Death Valley, Weren’t nothing but tombstones and dry bones…

Blackpaint

20.07.10

Blackpaint 168

July 18, 2010

Turtle Burners’ Portrait Prize at the NPG

Managed to get up to this today.  All portraits very competent and, no doubt, accurate – but only one had that thing of grabbing your eye; cynosure is the word, I think.  This one was by Diarmuid Kelley and was titled “What a Terrific Party”, or something similar (didn’t have a pen on me).  It was of a British Army officer in dress uniform, seated on a cot in pensive (or possibly drunken) mode.  It was painted with those flat, short brush strokes and strong contrast of light and dark and reminded me of someone like Orpen.  The background was ochre, I think, and grey or black and was abstracted to a degree.  The only one where the surface of the paint drew me. 

The other painting I liked was the one based on Rembrandt’s Dr. Tulp, by Henry Ward.  It was huge, and showed a group of six or seven besuited dignitaries surrounding a patient on the operating table, whose kidney has just been removed by the “Finger Method” (!  Is this a joke?)  They look like a group of ghouls or vampires.  the reference is clearly to those pictures where loads of VIPs were painted at some conference or meeting, with their faces turned unnaturally toward the viewer.  They leer satanically out at you – I presume that was the painter’s intention.

I have decided to celebrate the success of BP’s timely and efficient operation to stop the leak by returning to oils.  I’d forgotten, however, that the bloody stuff never dries, so have already managed to ruin a pair of jeans.  Oils are much better than acrylics though, somehow – they glow more and they’re more slippery and unctious, which is just another way of saying they’re…oilier.

Jean Miotte

Miotte is today’s recommendation.  born 1926 and still with us, he does wild gestural stuff often “built” around black, spidery knots of paint with vivid colours.  Check out “Deliverance” 1960 in Taschen’s Art of the 20th Century (very Franz Kline-ish), and Google him – well worth it.

Brixton Urban Art

Been sitting in the gutter opposite my paintings all day in Josephine Avenue, getting sunburnt and watching the crowds from the Lambeth Country Show go by.  Not a great deal of action down my end, I’m sorry to say – but you get your stuff seen, which is half the battle.

Black Fork on White by Blackpaint

18.07.10

Blackpaint 167

July 15, 2010

Beckett

Read on a bit more in Ellmann and I found that Beckett denied any charge of optimism in his work and countered the “I’ll go on” ending in “The Unnameable” with “Nohow on” in a subsequent work.  Still, artists aren’t necessarily the best guides to their own work; I shall persist in detecting optimism in his work, particularly in the thoughtfulness and sympathy with which his characters often treat each other (Vladimir and Estragon in Godot, for example).

When you consider, optimism is a pre-condition of creating art anyway.  Even if you are saying that everything is pointless, purposeless, and painful, the fact that you are saying it gainsays you.

Jawlensky (1864-1941) and Van Dongen (1877-1868)

Another pair who show strong similarities.  Jawlensky was a colourist first, did unlikely landscapes as well, and  was an associate of Kandinsky.  If you look at his painting “Schokko”, you will see that he has used a strong outline round the head and shoulders.  His other works are also outlined, sometimes almost by scratches in the paint as much as lines of pigment.

Van Dongen’s “Portrait of Dolly” shows no such use of outline.  In other respects, however, the use of colour and approach to subject, the two are strikingly similar.  Different countries, movements and influences, however.  Jawlensky went further along the road to abstraction – see his “abstract heads” – but not so far as Kandinsky.

De Stael and Diebenkorn

This is probably totally fanciful, but if you take a picture of de Stael’s “Portrait of Anne”, done in 1953, and turn it upside-down or on its side, you have a pretty close approximation to a Diebenkorn abstract landscape.  Black and red maybe a bit more intense, but not much…  So what? You might ask – nothing of great import, except that it indicates the degree of abstraction in the de Stael and it reflects positively on both artists, to my thinking, anyway.  Why no TV profiles on them and their work?  list of further artist TV profiles to follow…

Tadeusz Kantor

Finally for now, Google the above artist and see at least three staggering (must stop this).. very interesting gestural/abstract paintings, amidst a host of pictures of his theatrical projects.  and that face – straight out of Expressionist cinema.  Actually, he looks just like Artaud; maybe it IS Artaud in one of Kantor’s productions.

Take this Hammer by Blackpaint.  An old image, used twice before I think.  Title nicked from Leadbelly.

Take this hammer, and carry it to the captain (*3)

You can tell him I’m gone, you can tell him I’m gone.

Blackpaint

15.07.10

Blackpaint 166

July 13, 2010

Necrophilia

Sort of, but not quite; it makes an interesting heading though.  I’m referring to the plans to tour a mummy show through the USA over the next few years (see Blackpaint 162 on the likelihood of human bodies/pieces one day being displayed as art).  True, this is under the aegis of science – but really we’re talking at least three parts morbid curiosity to one part scientific interest, surely.  These bodies are however, dried out and hundreds (at least) years old – human necrotic art still awaits its Damien.

James Joyce

Richard Ellman, in an essay/lecture as part of his book “Four Dubliners”, relates how Joyce seemed to encourage Nora to go with other men, so that he could write about the experience of being cuckolded, like Bloom in Ulysses.  Apparently, he made advances to two separate women in Zurich, whilst writing his masterpiece, to inform the Gerty MacDowell sequence and Bloom’s dalliance with Martha Clifford.  Once he got what he wanted – material for the book – he pursued the women no further.  Clearly, a conscientious artist.  I feel another list coming on – artists who go to extraordinary lengths…

Beckett 

I’ll return to proper, visual art in a moment, but want to comment on something which has just struck me, but is no doubt a commonplace in literary circles – Beckett is an optimist at base.  I’d always thought of him as the ultimate “downer”, the artist with the view of life as meaningless – “They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more” (Godot) – brutal, funny in a cruel, pitiless way, vain.  Now, ploughing through “The Unnameable” after the increasing disintegration of Molloy and Malone Dies, I find that he can be read as a stoic; everything is shit in the worst possible way, I shit upon my surmises – literally, plop, plop, he writes – and yet, as the last line says, “I can’t go on I’ll go on”.  Stoic – which to my mind, is a sort of optimism…

Patrick Heron

That fantastic one in the Art Book, “Fourteen Discs; July 20, 1963” with the “sculpted” area of red/orange paint and the “scribbled” discs of red and yellow overlapping onto the green and the yellow scribble on the blue, creating a floating feel.

Diebenkorn and de Kooning

Strong similarities between Diebenkorn’s “Berkeley No.52”, painted in 1955 and de Kooning’s “4th July 1957”; the horizontal sections, the violet-blues, the yellow-to-oranges…. de K’s looks more slippery, greasy, splattered but they could easily be two parts of a diptych by the same painter.  They are both breath-stopping – sorry, no more superlative cliches, but it’s permissible in both cases here.  Diebenkorn’s is in the Phaidon “20th Century Art Book”, de Kooning’s in “Intensely Dutch”.  In both cases, these pictures alone justify the cost the book.

Art trial in Russia

Yesterday in Guardian, reported that Yuri Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeyev on trial in Moscow and verdict expected, for organising an exhibition in 2007 called Forbidden Art, satirising Christian images, specifically of Jesus.  Charges are fomenting religious and ethnic hatred (sounds familiar) and insulting human dignity.  No protest letters from British artists in Guardian, as far as I know.  One of the defendants was a head of contemporary art at the Tretyakov – bit like putting Serota on trial.

Oxydised Panel

Blackpaint

13th July 2010

Blackpaint 165

July 11, 2010

God in the Brain – Michelangelo

My youngest son told me a week or so ago that some scientists had recognised the odd surround from which God reaches to Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel as being an exact match for a cross section of the brain.  Then, last night, the same theory popped up on QI – Stephen Fry said it was three or four scientists and the whole thing was the more plausible because Michelangelo famously conducted (illegal) dissections.

So it’s clearly nonsense, according to Blackpaint’s Law of Spurious Plausibility.  This states that the likelihood of a theory being bullshit increases proportionate to its plausibility (to a disinterested and rational public).  We’re talking here about plausibility, not evidence, I emphasise.  The fact that  four scientists believe something is true is not evidence, unless its in their own field – maybe not even then; professional magicians love to have scientists observe their tricks, because they are really easy to fool – I suppose because they take a linear approach.

Caravaggio

Blackpaint’s Law probably applies to the Caravaggio camera obscura theory too.  Martin Gayford was writing about this in the Telegraph yesterday – the gist was that certain oddities in the way C. paints could be explained by his having used a camera obscura to “trace” some figures and then sort of reassemble them on canvas – an early variety of cut and paste, I suppose.  Sounds plausible – I think Hockney came up with it in that book he wrote a few years back.  There’s that question of the outstretched left hand in the “Supper at Emmaus” (too small in relation to the right one – see Blackpaint earlier this year) – not sure how that fits in.  Anyway, it’s plausible, but no evidence, so Blackpaint’s Law says BS.

Gillian Ayres

Below is my latest painting, that I thought was a pretty good effort, a re-working of an old canvas called “Bad Boy” that was OK at the time I did it but crap in retrospect.  The new one is called Bad Boy 2 (Falstaff), for obvious reasons.  After finishing it, and sticking it on the wall for appraisal, I happened to see a painting by Gillian Ayres, entitled Hinba, in a book.  Same reds and pinks, infinitely more interesting.  I wasn’t conscious of any influence, but it seems to me that I must have registered the Ayres somewhere in the back of my skull before painting; bit of a choker, really.  I suppose that sort of thing happens all the time.

Private View 

Last Thursday, in a swish health centre on Chelsea Wharf.  Amazing how much better your pictures look when they get a big chunk of pristine white wall to themselves.  A few glasses of red wine also improves their appearance, but best of all is a cheque (rare occurrence).

BB Falstaff by Blackpaint

Listening to Friends in Low Places, by Garth Brooks

“Blame it all on my roots – I showed up in boots

And ruined your black tie affair…”

Blackpaint

11.07.10

Blackpaint 164

July 8, 2010

Warrior Taking leave of his wife, 440BC

It’s painted on an oil jar in the museum in Athens.  The warrior appears to be handing his helmet to his wife, who sits impassively before him, one arm casually thrown over the back of the curly chair.  Surely she should be handing him the helmet?  The thin white slip coating the jar gives a matte surface to paint on.  like many of these artefacts, this one looks as if it was made some time last week, rather than 2500 years ago, give or take.  See it in Phaidon’s “30,000 years of art”, if you don’t live in Athens.

Pollock

Looking at “Croaking Movement” and “Shimmering Substance” from “Sounds in the Grass” series 1946; the first with its white triangles and globes, the second with its squirming yellow worms of paint – he must have been trying to express sound, like Kandinsky and others, that idea of synaesthesia.  he did one later called “Untitled (scent)”, which is a strange sort of title, but implies he was trying to do the same with smell.  That seems to me to be a very tall order, harder than sound which can be harsh, jerky, smooth, soft etc.

Have to be cautious here, however, since it’s well known that others, dealers and gallerists, supplied some of the names for his paintings, such as those with a mythological title.

Roger Hilton

Very characteristic of Hilton’s paintings from early 50s is that mottled, fluffy whiteness, forming a background to the floating, disparate shapes he was doing in 1953.  Later, from about 61, there are the areas of bare canvas, the scruffy charcoal lines and splashes and lozenges of colour, blues, brown, reds. 

Have to stop now – private view tonight. 

Elgin Movements,  Blackpaint

08.07.10

Blackpaint 163

July 6, 2010

Michelangelo

The Taschen says that Mick’s St. Paul statue is a self portrait, citing the “broken nose” (given to Mick by fellow sculptor Torrigiani).  Can’t see it myself; if the famous portrait of M by Jacopo del Conte is a close resemblance, and it appears to chime with the St. Bartholomew skin self portrait and others, the St.Paul statue looks nothing like him.  I reckon my candidate is a better bet (the man in the background of the cartoon in the British Museum).  Having said that, it’s still a brilliant book.

You know when you’re flicking through an old catalogue and something just makes you catch your breath and think you’d like to see a gallery full of this person’s pictures right now – I’ve had that experience today with two artists who happen to be on opposite pages of a Christie’s catalogue, from 1989.  They are

Marie Elena Vieira da Silva b. 1908, “Le Monte Charge”, and

Jean-Paul Riopelle b.1932, “Retrecit de L’Ile”.

The da Silva is blue-grey and black blocks with buff and white traces, that looks pretty much like a harbour full of grey water from a plane.  The Riopelle is wilder, a much more fractured surface made up of what look like dabs of thick paint with a square brush – but it’s still got that harbour thing going.  Both of them seem to stick – or have stuck – to a similar formula for most of their works; sort of echoes of de Stael again with variations; that was one influential artist.

I’ve noticed their work before; I would guess that da Silva was Portuguese and Riopelle I came across in the Joan Mitchell book – he was her partner in France for some years.  I think the reason I’ve not mentioned them before is that their names are difficult – pathetic, eh?

Another painter in the same catalogue is Peter Bruning; two more breath-catching pictures, called – wait for it; No.2 and No.49.  You can see Damien Hirst’s point about these artists who do hundreds of Untitled’s or just do numbers and dates – it might be a point of principle but it’s really irritating.  Give it a proper name!  Doesn’t have to have anything to do with what it looks like, but it helps punters and bloggers to remember it.

Anyway, I strongly advise the reader to look these painters up on Google and do her/himself a visual favour.  Here’s one of mine in the meantime –

Listening to Bill Evans Town Hall Concert, Turn Out the Stars.

Blackpaint

06.07.10

Blackpaint 162

July 5, 2010

Laura Cumming on Banner

Laura Cumming (Observer, Sunday) says the Harrier is “a predator to the nearby prey of a Sepecat Jaguar lying beached and inverted on the floor.  Both planes are undeniably magnificent, powerful, menacing; and stalled.”  She’s wrong about the Harrier – it’s a caught fish, a skate-ray-shark type thing, hanging dead, waiting to be gutted.  The whole exhibit conveys impotence, not power or menace, although to be fair, she does end by saying the planes, exhibited as they are, “are reduced to – admittedly spectacular – curiosities.”

Dorothy Cross

Reading a catalogue the other day, I came across an artefact by this artist, entitled “Dishes”.  Made in 1992, it consisted of small enamel plates, a bowl and a cup, the last with a cow’s teat stretched over the top.  The catalogue stated that since 92, “she has employed udders on numerous occasions”.

This led me to consider the various odd materials that artists have employed and to want to make a list of them (I’m aware that list making is a classic obsessive activity and I’ve done a few already, so this will join the list of things which I won’t be doing in future in this blog).

Anyway-

  • Dead Animals.  Damien Hirst occurred to me first, but the shark and the sheep and the cow are themselves, albeit “mediated” by Hirst – he hasn’t made anything out of them.  if I included them, I’d have to include Fiona Banner’s planes and really, all other readymades.  I suppose the flies and the rotting meat are a composite, so they count, as do the butterflies. 
  • Blood.  Mark Quinn, Hermann Nitsch and the Vienna Actionists.
  • Sand, sacking and suchlike.  Burri, Tapies, Nicolson, Sandra Blow.
  • Piles of powdered pigment.  Kapoor.
  •  Rotting flowers, fruit and vegetables.  Anya Gallacio.
  • Palm trees, earth, straw.  Anselm Kiefer.
  • Oil.  That Richard Wilson installation that Saatchi exhibited.
  • Elephant dung.  Ofili, of course.
  • Faeces.  Terence  Koh, Piero Manzoni (allegedly – but who knows whether it was really in the tins?) and, no doubt, others.
  • Urine.  Helen Chadwick’s pissholes in the snow, or “Piss Flowers”.
  • all those bits and pieces used by “Art Informel” and Arte Povera artists, the collagists like Schwitters, etc.
  • Fat and felt.  No prizes.

In fact, I’m going to stop here, because the list becomes ridiculous, when you include sculpture and installation.

Necrotic Art

Photos of corpses by Sally Mann, photo of Damien posing with a head, dead mother  of Dorothy Todd  in the turtle burners’ Portrait Prize, plus the organic items listed above, lead me to wonder if body parts or even whole bodies might one day be exhibited as art, either as readymades or material.  After all, mummies, Lindow Man, dried-out corpses can all be seen in the British Museum and a host of other institutions – but they are “science”, medicine maybe, anthropology at least.  I suppose you could argue that Von Hagen is already doing it with his plastination roadshow, which undeniably has artistic as well as scientific aspects.  Plastination, however, prevents decomposition and sanitises (so I’ve heard).  I’m sure that considerations of decency and good taste would prevail……

Blackpaint

05.07.10