Blackpaint 590 – Petrograd, Cream Soda, Adam and Eve and the Third Reich


Revolution: Russian Art 1917 – 32, RA

Plenty of history here, even if some of the art is  – not so good, it’s always historically interesting.  Quite an overlap with Margy Kinmonth’s recent film (see Blackpaint 577); Filonov’s obsessively detailed “outsider-ish” paintings, Lentulov and, especially Petrov-Vodkin, who has a whole room to himself.

  • Brodsky, “Lenin at the Smolny Institute” (1930).  The empty chair (below) – the wall plaque says it invites you to put yourself in it.  I prefer Kinmont’s gloss, that it is symbolic of Stalin’s coming ascendancy.

  • Rublev’s “primitive” Stalin (1930).  Rublev meant well; predictably, Stalin didn’t appreciate it, so it wasn’t exhibited publicly.
  • Pakhomov, “Reaper” (harvest, 1928) – great sweeping red and blue/green shapes amid the corn.  My favourite.

  • Lentulov, “New Jerusalem” – gates and tower, bit like Soutine’s townscapes;
  • Tatlin’s “Letaelin” – birdy wooden flying – well, not really – structures, obviously reminiscent of da Vinci’s.
  • Deineka, “Defence of Petrograd” – Filmic, two-tier; marchers in profile, lower tier off to the battlefront, upper tier wounded, returning.  Like Eisenstein.
  • Deineka, “Textile Workers” (below) – fit, strong women, big feet…

  • An interesting – but not especially good –  abstract by Lizak, “Walk” (1928);
  • Great ad (below) – “Of course, Cream Soda!” – I think the posters and ads are actually the best art on show, apart, maybe, from the Malevich “harlequin” figures , black square and some well-known abstracts.  There are also extracts from Eisenstein and Vertov films, and a bedroom constructed, floor included, from 3 or 4 ply cardboard.

America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s, RA

The “Fall” is the Wall Street Crash, of course.  Goes really well with the Russian exhibition, for some reason, I guess the left-wing leanings of most artists.  Figurative, mostly, but in a graphic, cartoon-ish way that differs from Socialist Realism.

  • Alice Neel’s proletarian portrait;
  • Hopper’s petrol pumps (below) and cinema usherette;
  • Shaw’s great “Wrigley’s Spearmint”;
  • Hart Benton’s “Cotton Fields” (below);
  • Stuart Davis’ colourful cartoon street scene (didn’t get the title);
  • Guston’s tondo, “Bombardment” (1937) – sort of Beckmann meets Picasso;
  • Grant Wood’s “Gothic”  of course, and a car accident on a country road (below) and a wooded valley with deep green sponge-like tree tops.  The Woods, in my opinion, best in show (What is this? Cruft’s ?)

 

Grant Wood

 

Thomas Hart Benton

Edward Hopper

Telegraph cartoon 

Bob, in the Telegraph the other day, did a parody of Michelangelo’s Adam and Eve; Theresa May, her face turned away from chancellor Hammond’s member, reaches for the apple “tax”.  They are then expelled from Eden.  Interesting to see the vitriol in the right-wing press, in response to the new NICS rates, which will hurt many middle-class self-employed Tory supporters.

A while back, Steve Bell in the Guardian, parodying Gillray,  commented on the relationship between May and Trump like this:

Some might consider these to be sexist responses, but there seems to have been no adverse comment, beyond a passing remark on Bell’s cartoon by that bloke from the Mail, on Sky’s “The Papers”.  I guess, Tory PMs are fair game and feminists think this stuff is OK, as long as it’s directed at May, or Amber Rudd, or Liz Truss…

While I’m on about politics, I should mention Ian McEwan’s talk in Barcelona.  The Guardian reported, no doubt inaccurately or out of context, that “he described the atmosphere in Britain as “foul” after a Brexit referendum that reminded him of Nazi Germany and an aftermath reminiscent of Robespierre’s Terror”.  He’s entitled to his opinion, of course, but so am I and I think this is a ridiculous overstatement. If it has ANY effect (in Britain, that is), it’s likely to drive moderate Brexit people towards the Right, which presumably, he wouldn’t want..

Hyacinths and Milk Jug, Still Life

Blackpaint

14/3/17

 

 

 

 

 

 

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