Blackpaint 294

Changing Times…

Edward Lucie-Smith, writing in 1969, refers to Bridget Riley as “Miss Riley”.  Male painters are referred to by their surnames: “Hockney”does this or that…  .  Lucie – Smith quotes Dr. Johnson with reference to computer – generated art: “Dr, Johnson’s remark about a woman preaching seems applicable: it is not that the computer does it well, but it is surprising that it can do it at all.”  Interestingly, he later refers to Barbara Hepworth as “Hepworth” – clearly a sign of respect.

In material from the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich, I am told that Mary Webb taught at Norwich School of Art – which has since been renamed “Norwich University College of the Arts”.  What bollocks all that is; Norwich Art School sounds much better, I think.

Days of Heaven

Finally got to see this great film again, at the BFI – I remember seeing it back in 1979 and thinking it was the best film I’d ever seen.  I remembered the name of Nestor Almendros, the cinematographer, but not that it was Terence Malick directing – the photography seemed far more important.  It was nearly as stunning the second time, but maybe a little less so, because my expectations were so high.  The narrative voice of the young girl provided a clear link to Badlands; parts of it, and parts of the dialogue sounded improvised.  I found Leo Kottke’s upbeat guitar music a bit irritating and there was one scene which came perilously close to that awful stretch in Gangs of New York, where everyone is doing their own street bit – juggling, fighting, drinking, picking a pocket…  The river scenes reminded me a little of Night of the Hunter.  Brooke Adams has somehow got a silent film face; I could easily see her with Chaplin, in Gold Rush, say.  Strange, beautiful eyes and that downturned mouth…

Fellini’s Casanova

And yes! The whale makes an appearance in this too, as a circus/freak show exhibit, like in Tarr’s Werckmeister, and Fellini’s own Satyricon (although not in a circus; hoisted from the sea).   I think there’s a thesis to be written on the role of rotting whale carcases in art house cinema.  Maybe you could stretch it to include huge, unidentified fish things, to get Dolce Vita in.

Degas and Picasso

Adrian Searle in today’s Guardian, says that the famous Degas statue of the Little Dancer was “the model for one of the figures in Picasso’s 1906 Demoiselles d’Avignon – or at least, this is the opinion of Richard Kendall, the curator of the Degas show at the RA.  I checked this out, and he can only mean the demoiselle on the left, as the viewer looks at the painting.  The posture and the head position are completely different, however, and the only resemblance I can see is between the right leg of the little dancer and the leg of the demoiselle – pretty thin, really (the idea, not the leg).


I have started to love that second abstract period; the way some of them combine the painterly-ness with the schematic, sort of half minimalism of all those ones that look like archways or windiws…  started to do some like that myself – only 35 years later, of course…

The song the spider sings


Sept 13th 2011

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