Blackpaint 166


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…


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


13th July 2010

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