Blackpaint 408 – Bilbao; Picasso’s Leeks, Urs Fischer’s Tongue


 Guggenheim Bilbao

If you’re in northern Spain, brave the giant Scalextrix set around Bilbao and visit Gehry’s Guggenheim.  Even if the exhibitions are bad – not often – the building is always worth another visit.

At the moment, there is an exhibition about France in WW2.  It’s a little contrived, cobbled together, and actually runs from 1938 (surrealists, Spanish war aftermath) to 1947.  It includes pictures and cartoons by several artists (Charlotte Saloman, Felix Nussbaum) who died in Auschwitz and other camps; art done in hiding or on the run; art done in exile;  “official” art, i.e. acceptable to Vichy and/or the Germans (including Dufy with a giant blue panorama, like a Festival of Britain poster, and a Villon, rather like a Colquhoun/MacBryde figure); there is even a Picasso room, with some great studio photos by Brassai and one terrific painting in watery blue, “Studio with skull and Leeks”.

picasso skull and leeks

Most of the art, as always in wartime, was realist, symbolist or tragic/heroic – crucifixions, barbed wire, agonised, objectified suffering, calls to arms, etc.  Cartoons and collages  along Grosz and Heartfield lines from Joseph Steib; for some reason, a stupendous nude in the bath from Bonnard that I last saw a couple of years ago in the Pompidou, surely – that one with the walls that look like Klimt.

bonnard bath

Also a couple of beautiful, colourful abstracts from Sophie Tauber-Arp, “Etudes from the Earthy Food” (?)

After the obscenity of war, a floor of plain obscenity.  Three or four large Paul McCarthys, “The Spinning Dwarf”; black cartoon charcoal or paint mouse, claggy smears and sprays of paint here and there, pages of porno mags torn out and stuck on upside-down.  I suffered a rather painful neck spasm as a result.

Urs Fischer’s Tongue, poking through a ragged hole in the wall – not her real tongue, that is, but a synthetic one that emerges suddenly when you approach the hole – it darts through and licks at you.

Two R Crumb strips in his – er, uncompromising style, Boswell’s Diary and Making Love to a Strong Girl – no racial stereotypes this time, but plenty to offend those who wish to be offended.

R Crumb strong girl

Finally, there is Riotous Baroque, which I’ll do next week.

Thomas Bernhard, Old Masters

Reading this protracted, repetitive rant against artists, philosophers, musicians with an Austrian connection – I think it’s supposed to be ironic – I was suddenly reminded of John Cooper Clarke’s “Evidently Chickentown”, although the latter is a far superior piece of art, I think.  Watching the hour long programme celebrating his poetry, I was bowled over by “Beasley Street” – bits of it were  almost like those Auden poems that copy the form of nursery rhymes.

Top of the Lake

Great TV serial. marred by two factors; Holly Hunter’s laughable and highly irritating guru “GJ” (or maybe GeeJay) and the cop out regarding the relationship of Robin and Jonno – are they really brother and sister? No – Jonno’s mother had an affair as well.  That’s all right then.  All the white men, apart from Jonno, were violent and potential rapists, all the women deeply damaged by men.

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Blackpaint

22.08.13

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