Blackpaint 214


I’ve been looking at this artist in some detail and I’m staggered by some of the paintings.  That Phaidon book – at first, the illustrations look a bit lifeless, bit brownish; not the sparkling, pure colours you know the originals have.  But having looked a little harder and deeper, I’ve seen the light, as it were.

First, “Nude, right leg raised”.  A view along model’s bent body, slightly angled away from the painter – think I’ve only seen such a view in a Degas, probably ballet dancer.  Maybe a little like a Diebenkorn figure.

“Street scene, Place Clichy”, 1895, with its creamy yellow against brown and black, reminding me of that Jack Yeats picture from a Dublin bus or tram – the one that was on the cover of the Penguin “At-Swim-Two-Birds”.

“The Garden” (1936), looks like an abstract at first; could go any way round on the wall, until you see the pigeons on the path.

Then there are the various shimmering views through windows and doorways, the increasing flatness of the picture plane and the table-tops tilting towards the viewer in the Cezanne manner.  One of the clearest examples is “Getting out of the Bath”, with the tilted lino pattern and the table legs.  Then, the “Dining Room Overlooking the Garden”, with the sketchy, ghost-like figure of Marthe scarcely noticeable to the left of the french windows, and the staggering “Decoration at Vernon”, another pass-for-abstract, with its oranges and pinks.

Finally, for now, the late “Studio and Mimosa”, the latter burning bright yellow beyond the orange marmalade window frame.  Just fantastic, with that innerburning light you get with Van Gogh and Joan Mitchell.  Sorry about the superlatives, but altogether justified in this case.

Van Gogh

Also got the Taschen double on the above with the complete paintings (or at least, 83% of them!  Some are lost, like the one of the painter in his straw hat with the easel under his arm, that Francis Bacon used; lost in WW2).

The early ones are so brown, like C17th Dutch Masters, in tone.  And there’s a series of a weaver at his loom, done from several different views, that I wasn’t familiar with; also the brown Cafe  that’s in the Orsay – I was very dismissive of this one when I blogged about the Orsay.  Wrong, as usual – looks fine to me now, although not as good as the later ones, of course.  One chapter of the book is entitled “Religious Maniac” – they don’t mince their words at Taschen.

Last Judgement

Last mention of Mike for a while; I’m becoming obsessive.  I just want to mention the bulging, prominent eyes of many characters in the LJ, signalling wonder, horror and/or sheer terror, depending on their fate – there’s a cartoon quality to it.  With the writhing, twisting, gesturing poses, this really is something like the most astonishing strip cartoon ever done.

St. Blaise, Blackpaint


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