Blackpaint 175


Douanier Rousseau

I’ve read the passage in Penguin Book of Art Writing on the above, to which I referred in BP 173 and, as usual, I was quite wrong; it’s written by Picasso’s lover at the time and, although Rousseau is portrayed as a comic, rather pathetic buffoon, there is no suggestion that Picasso himself regarded him as such.  As to my comparison of Rousseau to Ornette Coleman, that was wrong too.  Rousseau was a catalyst; he influenced P. and the Cubists, but didn’t develop much himself.  Coleman, by way of contrast, became the next big thing with, and after, Coltrane and the leading force in “free” jazz from the late 50’s on.  So – moving on…

Rauschenberg’s “Gluts” 

Last word for this year on the Guggenheim Bilbao.  These sculptures and found objects are so named because they are the detritus from the North American culture of overproduction, conspicuous consumption and built-in obsolescence (three cliches in succession!).  It’s capitalism, anyway; nothing particularly USA about it – except for the scale.  Rausch, fortunately,  had a rather sentimental attitude to these bits of refuse and went round rescuing them like stray cats.  then he attached this to that, producing a sculpture; maybe adding some paint, maybe just calling  it something.

Scoreboards, calendars, road signage, car parts (fenders,  exhausts, tyres), garage detritus, STOP signs, production statistics on factory notice boards, iron ladders (maybe attached to venetian blinds – or not), bent panels, cots, a pair of Pegasus horses facing each other across a Greek marble head painted over in yellow, those silvery aluminium air ducts, squashed and twisted…  He’s like Ed Ruscha’s younger (?) vandal brother; Ruscha’s stuff is spick-and-span, Rauschenberg’s is crushed and crumpled.  White blinds, long yellow metal slats, cymbal, old wheel, blue “wood effect” panel, iron stove, chair, car radiator.

One room contains only silver metal, no painted objects – I like the painted stuff better, less pure but the paint’s part of the glut too.  Interesting that he got names from what the sculptures and objects look like – for example, “Dirty ghost Glut”, “Samurai Glut”, “Gold Strike Glut”.

The exhibition ends with photographs of R’s collaborations with dancers Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown.

Mike Nelson

Went to Tate Britain yesterday, and very nearly missed this artist’s “Coral Reef”.  That’s because you enter the installation through a little scruffy cream doorway and are confronted with the uniformed back of a Tate attendant sitting at a wooden counter behind a grille, filling in some forms.  As you mutter an apology and go to withdraw, you notice that there are other punters beyond the grille.  Progressing further, you find a confusing suite of rooms, low ceilings, made out of wood, dark, smelling  like the basement of  a second-hand bookshop, with various random objects scattered around: a settee, rumpled sleeping bag, clown’s head, tommy gun – some of the rooms look like temporary offices in old Portakabins, or more likely, disused rolling stock.  It was a little like going round the Haunted House in some impoverished travelling fairground.  It reminded me of the Kienholz “Hoerengracht” thing (see Blackpaint 34  ).  Coral Reef?  I suppose it winds in and out, like a maze – but it was more like a reef of detritus, washed up by the tide.

Listening to Easy Rider Blues by Texas Alexander.

“Takes midnight til the early rising sun,

Midnight til the early rising sun,

Stood on the corner, just to see my baby come.”

Torn Curtain by Blackpaint

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