Blackpaint 296


Gerhard Richter

Tate Modern exhibition of above starting in October and an article by Tony McCarthy in Guardian Review on Saturday.  He identifies the “blur”in his pictures as a characteristic – but of course, Richter’s work is so diverse – some figurative, some abstract – that it’s impossible to say he just does this or does that; he does nearly all of it!

One thing that is annoying in the article – McCarthy suggests that “September”, series no.911 was regarded by Richter as an abstract image, until a friend pointed out that it was the planes hitting the World Trade Center.  Once it is said, the towers and the planes are apparent (the image is included in the article) – but it’s a stretch to believe that the artist could have done it unconsciously and just not noticed.  It suggests that abstract works – or Richter’s abstracts, anyway –  should be treated as “Where’s Wally” exercises; look for the hidden picture.

The huge Richters in the Tate Modern, for example; light filtered through the foliage onto the surface of water, down in the bayou, maybe?  Or the one called “791-4 Abstract Painting” in the Phaidon 20th Century Art Book (actually, that one looks pretty much like the Tate ones, acid colours and scrapes).

John Martin

The other Tate has the Martin exhiition on now – I intend to go tomorrow.  His huge Apocalyptic canvases were displayed as events, people paying an entrance fee and then filing past in awe – which of course, describes a modern exhibition; well, maybe not the awe..  But there was something different about these Victorian shows, in that people paid to see a phenomenon, a spectacle, rather than a work of art.  Parallels were perhaps the paintings of Frederic Church, the American landscape artist, whose blinding sunsets were in the American Sublime exhibition a few years ago – or Cruickshank’s Temperance work, which he toured in a crusade against the demon drink.

Modern parallels?  I was thinking maybe Hockney’s recent giant treescapes, Anish Kapoor’s wax cannon and Marsyas, and the Eliasson Weather installation in the Tate Turbine Hall.

Women in Love

Re-acquainted myself with Ken Russell’s version the other day and I was amazed at the restraint of the film, compared to “The Devils” or the Tchaikovsky one.  I’d forgotten how powerful Glenda Jackson and Oliver Reed were together, and the brilliant set pieces – the Eleanor Bron dance, Alan Bates running down to the river bleeding, Glenda Jackson frightening the Scottish Longhorns, and of course, Bates and Reed wrestling starkers in front of the blazing hearth; watch out for sparks, you two.

Gerald Crich freezing to death in the snow was echoed in “The Shining” by Jack Nicholson (or rather, King and Kubrick).  Watched this again on TV a week ago and really noticed how outlandish Nicholson’s changes of expression are in the scene where Delbert Grady (Philip Stone) cleans his jacket and gives him – advice – in the toilet.  I think it is the intensity of Grady’s manner contrastng with Torrance’s naughty boy demeanour…

Blackpaint

28.09.11

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