Archive for April, 2019

Blackpaint 643 – Franz West, Dorothea Tanning and Fellini’s Roma

April 24, 2019

Franz West – Tate Modern until June 3rd

I was pretty well disposed to regard this exhibition as a waste of space when I arrived, having seen the odd photo of West’s work in art books and been unimpressed by them.  After a few exhibits, however, I was feeling some grudging amusement here and there and was quite won over by the time we left to see the Dorothea Tanning.  It’s necessary, I think, to see the size of some of these pieces, coupled with the lack of portent.  He’s indulging a spirit of playfulness – yes, a sentence that would normally lead me to go elsewhere at once – but somehow, without annoying infantilism that implies.

Actually, now I come to think of it, it IS infantile and, yes, it IS annoying.  But the proper course of action, perhaps, is to see it and then condemn it.  What’s in it?  Some examples, as always, below:

 

Show kicks off with a series of framed cartoons like these;

 

Lots of stuff roughly sculpted or thrown together in plaster-

 

-or metal –

 

-or gold tinfoil (looks like, anyway)-

 

-or these sorts of entities, standing drunkenly and precariously on thin supports.  Also giant microbes or viruses dangling from the ceiling, huge boulder piles in fibre glass or epoxy resin or some such and a variety of insane prostheses that the more exhibitionist visitors can parade around wearing in front of their partners.  There are some metal sculptures that recall Paolozzi, perhaps, and a series of great spoof film posters.  Yes, on reflection, it’s childish in a Dada sort of way, but I quite liked it – don’t know why, really…

Dorothea Tanning – also at Tate Modern until June

This exhibition is haunted by Max Ernst, as can be seen in the first example below – reminded me of that little one he did called “Children Frightened by a Nightingale” or something similar.  Not surprising, since she was married to Ernst (Ernst had previously partnered Leonora Carrington, with whom I tend to confuse Tanning, and not only because of Ernst and the names; their work also has some similarities).  The giant locust thing on the tablecloth is a famous image of hers, and instantly recognisable, as is the one with the floaty haired girls in the corridor with the giant sunflower…

As for the third example below, the  biomorphic shapes wrestling by a table, there is a whole roomful of these paintings, sculptures too, that are completely different in style from the Ernst-ish ones and graphic locusts.  They (like everything, I suppose) are a matter of taste – I think they suffer from the similar stuff that often pads out affordable art fairs.

 

 

 

 

Roma, dir. Fellini, 1972

Fabulous film, not only for the ecclesiastical fashion show and the brothel scenes, but also (and mainly) for the underground breakthrough into the Roman villa, the fading murals and the wild, hallucinogenic scenes on the autostrada in the rain.  I’ve now seen all the Fellini available on DVD and Youtube and it’s all great – a few longeurs in “Clowns” perhaps, but the YouTube version had Portuguese subtitles.  I recommend getting all available Bunuel too, and watching them turn and turn about with the Fellini.

 

 

And this is one of mine.

 

The World Turned Upside Down 2

Blackpaint

24,4,19

 

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Blackpaint 642 – Monk, Barlow, Nudes and Fellini

April 4, 2019

William Monk, “A Fool through the Clouds”, The Pace Gallery

This is only on until 10th April, so visit soon if you like his works.  Three examples below – they are big, by the way.

 

 

 

Phyllida Barlow, Royal Academy until 23rd June

As at the Tate some years back, and at the Venice Biennale 2017, giant structures in stone, wood, fibre glass, canvas and metal, filling the white galleries and presenting beautiful prospects through the archways.  As can be seen, they recall skeletal structures, perhaps poking up through mud on river banks or sea shores; great precarious boulders or metal chunks, balanced on spindly supports and draped with canvas swatches.  I don’t know who to compare her works to – maybe Keifer in terms of size (but not portent)…  No-one else, really.

 

Great view through doorway.

 

I wouldn’t stray beneath those structures at the back…

 

They were squashed flat 10 seconds later…

 

The Renaissance Nude, Royal Academy, Sackler Gallery 

As you would expect, there are some fabulous treasures on display here; nothing, however, to justify the rather overheated review Adrian Searle gave it in the Guardian a few weeks back.  Far from arousing lusty thoughts, I was constantly struck by how odd some of the nude body shapes and features were, Cranach for instance, but also Durer, and others.  Many of the artists seem to have a better grasp of the muscular male physique.  I particularly liked this mysterious little picture in a vitrine with several others in a series; it’s by Giovanni Bellini, I think – what’s he doing?  Coming out of his shell is the obvious answer.  Probably has some alchemical significance – maybe??

 

 

The Ship Sails On, Federico Fellini, 1981

Fellini will be turning up regularly in this blog over the next few weeks, as I’ve just been watching virtually his entire output on DVD.  Three to go – “Clowns” (on You tube, but in Italian with Portuguese subs), “Intravista” and Voice of the Moon” (his last film, can’t find it on DVD).

Anyway, “Ship” is the one about the voyage to dispose of the ashes of a star opera singer (Helen Suzmann) in 1914.  The guests are an assortment of singers, academics, royalty and hangers-on, and there is a sort of narrator in the form of Freddie Jones, a journalist who breaks the fourth wall constantly to address us (as he is doing in the still above).  What I particularly noticed this time round was how closely Jones’ facial expressions resemble those of Giulieta Masina, Fellini’s muse and wife.  Raised eyebrows, sudden perplexed frowns, that mouth pulled firmly down at the sides, expressing an undermining skepticism: a sort of facial shrug.  Barbara Jeffords is great too, as a rival diva.  The fabulously artificial seascapes too, with the static plumes of black smoke from the funnels.  At the end, Fellini pans back (is that the right expression?) to show the crew working the “sea” surface in the studio.

No new paintings, so these are the ones I sold in the exhibition last week:

Bad Old Science

Good New Science

Ballet

Disunity of the Spheres

I certainly can’t be accused of pretentious titles…

Blackpaint

4th April 2019