Late to publish again – sorry.
John Singer Sargent
I feel ambivalent about this painter – sometimes, I am staggered by how good he is (Mrs. Agnew, Ena and Betty Wertheimer) and sometimes he goes way into chocolate box territory (Mrs. Cazalet and her children – especially her children). No-one, I think, can do shimmering silk in a few dozen loose brush strokes like him. I suppose the chocolate boxes are an occupational hazard for a Society painter; you won’t get paid if you paint the kids ugly.
Betty and Ena
I’m familiar with Chagall’s floating/flying fiddlers, of course, but I have to say I was surprised by the “Fantastic Horse Cart”, painted in 1949, in which a rudimentary green horse (actually it looks more like a tapir) rises into the orange sky, supporting with its front legs a blue-faced fiddler. If this weren’t enough, the horse is harnessed to a cart, which hangs from the horse and contains two small children. Below is a village of old wooden houses. Not Socialist Realism, then.
His exhibit at the National Gallery involves peering through peepholes at naked or “scantily-clad” women, in poses relating to the Titian Diana and Actaeon paintings. In a recent Guardian article, a museum spokesperson claimed they were being plagued by “dirty old men”. I can’t believe this – in the 50s and 60s maybe, but not now, when porn is easily accessible on the internet – so I’m told.
Those antique road trip progs on the telly have produced a public which wants a deal on everything. I was at Urban Art in Josephine Avenue, Brixton last weekend. It was all “What’s your best price?” or “How much for cash?” or “You did say two hundred, right?” On the TV, they’re selling stuff just bought from another antique shop down the road; it’s all speculation to make a quick twenty or thirty quid. It annoys me when people want a deal for paintings I’ve done, as if I expect them to knock me down, and price them accordingly. Different if they say “I really like that painting, but I can’t quite afford it; is there any chance you could ….” Might be the same thing, but it feels different to me.
Satantango, Laszlo Krasznahorkai
Finished the book now, and one thing different from Bela Tarr’s magnificent film; when Irimias, Petrina and the boy arrive at the deserted chateau, they are confronted with a vision of the dead girl – in Tarr’s film, it is simply a thick white mist, and only Irimias appears to be overawed, and falls to his knees.