Blackpaint 457 – de Stael at le Havre, Perfect Backs and Zola


Nicolas de Stael at le Havre – Lumieres du Nord, lumieres du Sud

I’m deeply indebted to Jon Hensher for commenting on 453 and letting me know about this stunning exhibition of de Stael’s late sea-and landscapes, mostly from 1951 – 55 (the year in which he killed himself by jumping from his studio window in Antibes).  Wikipedia gives his place of death as Paris – this must surely be an error, as he jumped from the 11th storey.  Why?  he was very successful and producing fantastic work.  Apparently, he suffered from recurring depression and had had an “unsatisfactory” meeting with an art critic.

Although the exhibition contains only one or two paintings that approach real abstraction, his work throughout is concerned with shape and colour rather than the accurate depiction of reality.  Sea and shoreline are represented by bands or stripes of colour, detail of ships or buildings by his familiar dabs or “tiles” of paint.  On the whole, the textures lack the thickness and crustiness of his earlier large abstracts, apart from one or two, such as “Landscape, Agrigente”,  which are scraped or scratched into (these are, to my eye, among the best).

What I hadn’t appreciated was his mastery of colour.  A few examples below:

de stael paysage sicily

Paysage, Sicile 1953

de Stael lemon

Landscape 1952

de Stael big red

Figures by the Sea (I think – my notes are very scrappy)

de stael bell

Calais – this is the exhibition poster; shades of Vanessa Bell’s “Studland Beach”?

I could rhapsodise about these pictures for some time, but that would be tedious, so I urge all my readers to drop everything, go to France and see for yourselves.  Incidentally, Wikipedia mentions the Bay Area painters as a point of comparison, in that NdS returned to figurative painting after abstraction; there is however a quotation from the artist on the wall of the museum, indicating that he himself made no distinction between abstraction and figuration.

Wim Oepts

Dutch painter, died 1988, who came to mind when I saw the more intense de Staels:

oepts

Also Anthony Frost, a bit – those ones he does with sacking.

Tate Britain Archive Room – “The Model and the Life Room”

This is easy to miss, as its down in the basement, at the bottom of the Fred and Ginger stairs.  it’s a collection of life drawings and sketches by the likes of Gaudier- Brzeska, Hilda Carline, Keith Vaughan, Augustus John, Michael Ayrton and Ithell Colquhoun.  There is a drawing by Alfred Stevens called “Seated Woman Gazing at Magog”, which is another in my Perfect Backs series:

alfred stevens

It goes with the likes of Kitaj’s smoking woman

kitaj

 

 

and the back of the real Ginger, dancing with Fred at the end of “Swing Time” (buy the DVD to see what I mean).

fred and ginger swing time

 

Here’s my own best effort, not in the same league, I know:

??????????

Zola; Rougon – Macquart cycle

Started the 20 novel cycle on my Kindle, having downloaded the complete works for £1.99.  What it demonstrates to me is the importance of the translation.  I read “Germinal” and “The Debacle” (or The Downfall, as it is called in the Collected Works) in the 60s Penguin Classics versions; I remember a racy,modern,  brutal, colourful prose style.  The style here is archaic and sentimental – the word “damsel” cropped up early on, used by the narrator, not a character.  Not sure I’ll be able to last the whole twenty – easier than Proust, though, and more happens.

 Next blog: Braque and Yoko at Bilbao, Martial Raysse at the Pompidou.

001

 Sonia “on the beach”

Or maybe she should be on her side?

??????????

 Blackpaint

7.08.14

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