Archive for the ‘Michelangelo’ Category

Blackpaint 629 – Venice under Water and Anni Albers at the Tate

November 2, 2018

Venice under Water

Just back from flooded Venice, where I ran the 33rd Venice Marathon with my three sons, to raise money for Myeloma UK and to celebrate, if that’s the right word,  my 70th birthday.  This year, the conditions were the worst ever, at least for us slower ones ; a blasting headwind, driving hail into one’s face for several kilometers on the long bridge over the lagoon, followed by a step into calf-deep salt water on the car-free touristy stretch.  Sloshing on to St.Mark’s Square, with some desultory jogging over the seven or eight ramps to the finish by Giardini.  The day before, we were laughing at the tourists buying blue, orange and green galoshes; the day after, my eldest son had to go out early and find four pairs for us at E20 a pair.  BUT I did spot a peregrine falcon, cruising among the gulls in the red dawn sky over the Grand Canal, on the way to the start.

What has all this to do with art, you say?  Well, not a lot, but on the Monday (a dry day- the water comes and goes quickly with the tide and the wind), we came across the following, in a silent campo with several trees and surrounded by cloisters, on the other side of the island near Ospedale, and opposite the cemetery island:

Church of St. Francesco della Vigna

Big, white austere frontage with two huge bronze(?) statues, one a Moses horned like Michelangelo’s,  looming from alcoves about halfway up the wall – it’s got the feel of an abandoned Hawksmoor church about it (it’s not, of course – it’s Palladio; and it’s not abandoned).  And there’s the cloisters and no-one about at midday, a miracle in Venice.  In the gloom inside, there are a couple of great Veroneses, Tiepolo and the Negroponte below;  a fantastic painting, and no, I’d never heard of him before.  You have to drop a 50 cent piece in a box to get lights on the pics for a minute or so, like with the Bellini in S. Zaccaria.

 

 

Holy Family with Saints Anthony Abbot, Catherine and the infant John the Baptist, Paolo Veronese

Look at those fabrics, especially Catherine’s.

 

Resurrection of Christ, Veronese

 

Virgin and Child Enthroned, Fra Antonio da Negroponte

 

Another view of the above.  Love those putti swimming about in the sky under God, and the birds at the bottom; you can just make out a duck (mallard?) on the left and a hoopoe, last but one on the right.

Anni Albers at Tate Modern

I have to admit that this is not amongst my favourite exhibitions of all time, although I acknowledge the skill involved and the quality of the textiles displayed.  It’s all a bit too brown, grey and beige for my taste (although the examples I have picked to photograph seem to contradict that – because I picked ones I liked, I suppose).

I think you can see a resemblance to Paul Klee’s work in the second example especially; the interlacing tendrils in the 4th and 5th remind me of Brice Marden’s patterns – and maybe there is even a touch of Sean Scully in the pieces in general.  I thought the bedspread was nice, but better in a furniture showroom than an art gallery.  Yes, I know about the Bauhaus ethic of producing “practical”items, teapots, plates, chairs etc – I just like Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns and Joan Mitchell and the AbExes better.  No doubt, a major failure of taste and intelligence on my part, but I am an old white man, after all.

 

I really like this one.

 

But not so keen on this.

 

Crap frame.

 

An apology

First one above is blurred and I’m not sure it’s the right way up.

Trust (FX, Simon Beaufoy, Danny Boyle et al, 2018)

The US made, Simon Beaufoy version of the Getty kidnapping has to be the best thing on British TV this year.  Donald Sutherland is turning in a brilliant performance as the old man (Venice connection here – “Don’t Look Now” of course, and Fellini’s “Casanova”) Luca Marinelli, Hilary Swank.. well, they’re all terrific, as is the soundtrack, as is the camerawork and the script.  Shades of Godfather obviously, but also Fellini, I thought – or maybe the Sorrentino of “Il Divo” and “The Great Beauty”.  And there was all that hype about “the Bodyguard”…

Pictures of mine to finish with:

Rain over the Sound

 

Still Life with Milk Bottle

Blackpaint

02/11/18

 

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Blackpaint 628 – Skinned Alive in Dulwich and Striped in Hanover Square

October 21, 2018

Jusepe de Ribera, Dulwich Picture Gallery

The most effective heir to Caravaggio, Spanish painter who worked in Naples (1591 – 1652)

I’ve been looking forward to this exhibition for months, having seen fantastic de Riberas in the Prado last year; vast canvases of stretched, prostrated male bodies undergoing torture… hang on, this is becoming rather weird.  They are not actually all that gruesome and it’s the brilliant rendition (unfortunate term, but the correct one) of the human body that’s fantastic, not the torture or bloodshed.

There are only four or five large canvases in Dulwich – St.Bartholomew, about to be skinned alive (two of those, I think); Marsyas, being flayed by Apollo; St Sebastian, having his arrows pulled out by a couple of women (the women rather perfunctory – de Ribera seems more interested in men).  There is a portrait of a man holding a knife and a flayed human skin, obviously inspired by the Michelangelo self portrait on the Sistine wall.

Additionally, there are a number of beautiful little drawings, some in red chalk, that are reminiscent in style of Leonardo, but Goya immediately comes to mind; the subject matter?  Executions, tortures such as the strappado, hangings, crucifixions, facial deformations…  You can imagine the visitor to Ribera’s studio, after seeing these: “And the one you’re working on at the moment, upstairs – would that be a harbour scene or some nice flowers in a jug, with butterflies?  Oh, a flaying…”.

 

St Sebastian

The sprawling male bodies are the obvious focal point – the skin often white or greyish, grainy, rippled over the belly, livid white and scooped out by shadow in turn.  Wher the flaying is actually in progress, it is the foot or arm that is being “done” and is easy to miss.  De Ribera is also pretty hot on fabric; see the example below.

 

By coincidence, the night before going to this, I watched the film “Bone Tomahawk” (dir. S.Craig Zahler, 2015) on TV, in which cave-dwelling cannibal throwbacks scalp a living man, then upend him and chop him in two from the crutch; it seemed to make an appropriate double with Ribera.

Amy Sillman, Camden Arts Centre, Finchley Road tube

By way of slight contrast, this beautiful set of paintings and drawings, and a cartoon film in the overheated Camden Arts Centre.  Lovely big, green, pink, blue abstract canvases (see below) and cartoony characters, like the crawling, vomiting (?) creature that make their way, like Kentridge’s people and coffee pots, into the film.  The pictures have surface; sometimes hard, smooth and glazed, sometimes rough, scraped, paint in bobbles and rills.  She seems, again like Kentridge and many other artists, to have recurring images; the thing that looks like an old vinyl record pickup in “TV in Bed” below; or is it an unconscious deep sea diver, lying on his back on the sea bed and wearing flippers…

Apart from Kentridge, Guston (the pinks), Oehlen and for some reason, Marlene Dumas came to mind.

 

What the Axe Knows

 

TV in Bed

 

Slant

 

 

 

Sean Scully, “Uninsideout”, Blain/Southern, Hanover Square

For some reason, someone tweeted that Scully “should be ashamed of himself” for this exhibition…  Why?  He did stripes before and he’s doing stripes now – what’s wrong with these stripes?  Too colourful, maybe…

Anyway, they are huge; lush, syrupy sweeps of paint on aluminium supports, very painterly, with a depth of colour like those he showed in that fabulous palace in Venice, at last year’s Biennale.  Additionally, there are a couple of enormous, quilt-like assemblages with inset panels (three pictures down, below).  Downstairs, smaller works on paper in pastel.  In Scully’s handwriting, some guff about clashing colours suggesting The Clash rock band – great art doesn’t, or shouldn’t need explanation or justification.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two of mine to finish with, somewhat smaller than Scully’s:

Ice Candle

Blackpaint

 

Little Crashing Out

Blackpaint

21.10.48

 

 

 

Blackpaint 612 – Murder, Suicide, Sex and Some Art

December 12, 2017

Modigliani, Tate Modern

Enormous exhibition, rammed to the gills when I went, a couple of weeks ago when it had just opened.  Best or most interesting ones are Nudo Dolente (1908), very rough, upward looking; the breastless nude girl on the reverse canvas in the first room; the Gaston Modot portrait with the long, thick neck (maybe because it’s the fabulous Modot, the mad-eyed hero of l’Age d’Or and the violent gamekeeper of Regle de Jour);

 

 

The portraits of Cendrars, Cocteau and Brancusi, on the reverse of the Cellist.

Blaise Cendrars

There is a corner of beautiful nudes at the end of the exhibition; these, I think, are marred a little by the come hither or demure expressions worn.

I was interested by the eyes – Modigliani has a habit of blacking or scratching out the pupil of one eye in many of the portraits; I was beginning to think he had problems with aligning the gaze, but then noticed several where the pupils were not effaced and were correctly aligned.  So that remains a puzzle.  I also have to say that the pictures of Jeanne Hebuterne (Modigliani’s lover, who killed herself after his death, by jumping, pregnant, from a window) don’t look at all like her photograph.

Caravaggio, Sebastian Schutze (Taschen)

Ploughing on through the Taschen book, I notice that there is a marked change in the flesh tones and dark backgrounds he used in several paintings done in Sicily in 1608/9; the Burial of St. Lucy, for example, and the Raising of Lazarus both have a dusty golden flesh tone and a warm brown background darkness, contrasting with the starker contrasts and whiter flesh of earlier and later paintings.  Maybe its to do with the light in Sicily; I’m sure the repros are not at fault, as Taschen is pretty reliable.

Happy End (Michael Haneke, 2017)

Saw this at the Ritzy in Brixton and was unable to make sense of the first 20-odd minutes, due, I thought, to some demented soul drumming on the wall of the cinema.  When I could stand it no more, I stormed out to complain and discovered it was flamenco dancing night in the studio upstairs.

I eventually (after the dancing ceased) managed to make sense of the story – mostly – but the difficulty might have been just as much a result of Haneke’s narrative style;  things happen and you find out what’s going on later.  Quite common now and OK, as long as the flamenco dancers keep away…

There are some other typical Haneke tropes; the lack of sentimentality, to put it mildly, and the sudden violence.  I was reminded of the sudden, shocking suicide in Hidden.  It also recalled Festen in places, notably the scene where the son turns up at the engagement dinner, with a reluctant group of African asylum seekers in tow.  Isabelle Huppert is her chilly “self” and Jean-Louis Trintignant is brilliant as a determined, wheelchair-bound, would-be suicide.  It’s a black comedy, apparently…

Walter Hopps, The Dream Colony – A Life in Art (Bloomsbury, 2017)

This cost me £30, which I thought was a lot for a book of 300-odd pages, but I’m so glad that I bought it.  Hopps was the founder of the Ferus Gallery in LA and later, a groundbreaking curator in museums and collections in California.  He was running a gallery, working nights in a mortuary, addicted to speed, living hand to mouth, nurturing wealthy collectors – simultaneously.  He drops into the narrative – it’s “as told” to Deborah Treisman of the New Yorker – surprising asides such as “My mother was dating an actor named Marion Morrison, later better known as John Wayne”, or “at the time I was living with Charles Mingus”…

The story of Ferus, Hopps’ relationship with the smooth Irving Blum and with the macho Ferus artists is also told in the film “The Cool School” and the book has some interesting contrasts with the film, notably in the area of Blum’s marriage to Hopps’ ex- wife, Shirley Neilson and Blum’s re-purchase of the Warhol soup can pictures.  And, of course, there are the  passages on the great Ed Kienholz and the tragic story of the collector Edwin Janss, who threw himself out of a 12th floor hospital window, following an incapacitating stroke.

So, sorry – suicide in Modigliani, Haneke and Hopps; not in Caravaggio, however; he killed Tomassoni in a brawl in Rome and then, maybe, wounded another in a brawl in Malta.

Two new pictures to end with:

Red Plume

 

Green Plume

Blackpaint 

12/12/17

 

 

Blackpaint 611 – Caravaggio, de Ribera and the Catflap

November 28, 2017

National Gallery – de Ribera, Caravaggio

I got the Taschen Caravaggio for my birthday and I have to say that I’ve revised my whole system of preferences on 16th/17th century art: the stylistic realism (Death of the Virgin, for instance; an actual dead body, no choirs of angels on cloudbanks), the drama and focus of the figures emerging from the gloom and the subtle use of colour (green, blue, red and ochre in The Entombment of Christ) – and those muscular arms, hands and feet (The Crucifixion of St. Peter); fantastic.  Unfortunately, only two Caravaggios currently on display at the NG and none of those I’ve mentioned.  The NG has The Boy Bitten by a Lizard and a Supper at Emmaus; both brilliant but very familiar.

Entombment of Christ

Crucifixion of St. Peter

Akin to Caravaggio in style, born 20 years later  in Spain but moved to Rome, de Ribera is another stunning painter of twisted bodies emerging from a surrounding darkness.  His bodies tend to be white, shading into the murk in a sort of dry sfumato; they are often sprawling across huge canvases, as in the Prado.  Exhibition coming to Dulwich Picture Gallery next year, which will be one not to miss.

Lamentation over the Dead Christ, Jusepe de Ribera

Again, only two Riberas on show in the NG; this one, and another of some biblical character – Laban? – with a goat.  No chiarascuro (the Spanish followers of the Caravaggio style were called Tenebrists); looks like a completely different painter.

In Holofernes’ Tent, Johann Liss

I had to include this; Caravaggio did the same subject, setting it a few seconds earlier, when Judith was sawing the head off.  This one though has the most remarkable rendering of the folds and billows of Judith’s white chemise.  The detail hasn’t come out so well in the photo – it needs to be seen on the wall.

London Group Open Exhibition, The Cello Factory, Cornwall Road – last day Friday, 1st December

Great little gallery in the streets behind the South Bank opposite the ITV tower.  London Group venerable, founded by Camden Town and Vorticist painters (Gilman, Gore, Wyndham Lewis et al).  There is a Frank Bowling – you can see it below, pink, grey and yellow in the middle, end wall on right – at £48,000, but the others are more reasonably priced;  my partner’s diptych, “Catflap” (below) , for example.

 

Catflap (diptych) Marion Jones

It’s a very eclectic collection; the one thing I noticed was that there were a lot of windows in the paintings.

Monochrome, National Gallery

If the London Group was “diverse”, this outstrips it by a mile; Mantegna, Van Eyck, Bruegel, Memling, Moreau – to Stella, Malevich, Ellsworth Kelly, Picasso, Marlene Dumas.  It ends with a room suffused with orange light, by Eliasson.  It goes from grisaille and drypoint to the black square, Stella’s thin white geometric lines, a Las Meninas sketch by Picasso.  Some great works but a little colourless….

Ingres

 

Dumas

My latest to finish with-

Crossfire

Blackpaint

28/11/17

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 598 – Madrid, Salamanca, Bermondsey

June 3, 2017

Thyssen -Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

Staggeringly beautiful medieval pieces, some below: it has to be said, however, that the Old Masters took some time to perfect the portrayal of a baby – I don’t mean the little adult Christs that sometimes perch on Mary’s knee, but the real babies – like those portrayed below.

 

Yes, it’s definitely a baby…

 

Simone Martini, St.Peter – looking guilty; maybe about the denial of Christ?

Now, a series of three very dodgy Christ babies…

Piero di Cosimo

 

Dodgy Jesus 2 – Jacob Jordaens

 

Dodgy Jesus 3 – Lucas Cranach the elder.  He’s enjoying the grapes, but she doesn’t look too happy…

Carpaccio – some interesting birdlife…

Great Bellini, with that characteristic model again, on the left – she’s usually the Madonna…

Henry Manguin, The Prints (1905).  He’s new to me – another great back for my collection.

 

Michael Andrews, Portrait of Tim Behrens

 

Willem de Kooning – could easily fit in the Last Judgement murals in Salamanca Cathedral (see below) – if it was a bit faded…

 

Salamanca Old Cathedral

Stuck onto the “new” one (started in 16th century); the old one is 12th – 14th century.  We found it by falling down the steps from the new cathedral.

St. Christopher, with Christ on his shoulder – but who are the others under his belt?  There’s another like this in the Prado, taken from a cathedral wall in Segovia, I think (how do they do that?  Taking a mural on stone and transferring it to canvas?); the one in the Prado has the belt people and also has fishes swimming round Christopher’s legs.  The wall paintings in the cathedral need no commentary, for the most part:

I love the sun and moon, looking down on Christ from left and right…

Just look at that half dome painting.

Salamanca is the most beautiful city; storks nesting on the church tower, peregrine falcons circling in the spotlights from the old Jesuit college roof, thousands of swifts screaming as they tear around in raiding parties above the streets, honey-coloured stone…

White Cube Gallery, Bermondsey

Jurgen Partenheimer, “Lichtschwarm” – until 18th June.

Great paintings, a couple of examples below.

 

Rather like Oiticica, maybe.

 

Memento Park

Blackpaint

02.06.17

 

 

Blackpaint 597 – Striders and Chariots and Modern Art in Madrid

May 22, 2017

Giacometti at Tate Modern

Well I know he’s great and the creator of unmistakeable, iconic figures that define stillness and movement and contain both humour and pathos – but he is a little repetitive.  You say that the repetition is a mark  of his obsessive drive to attain the unattainable,  a heroic, almost tragic striving for perfection…but he is a little same-y.  Maybe I’ve seen too much Giacometti (NPG a while back, Sainsbury Centre in Norwich more recently); but this is a big exhibition with lots of rooms.  Maybe it’s the breathless hero-worship he seems to inspire in the women art lovers of my generation, that I suspect has as much to do with the brooding, rugged, Italian peasant features as the art.

Anyway, the good things:

  • The dancing, or falling figure on the posters.

  • The Chariot figure on wheels.
  • The flint axe-head sculptures, cut off below the shoulders, several of which, to me, seem to resemble the Duke of Edinburgh, Her Majesty the Queen,  Princess Margaret and Charles de Gaulle.

  • The pictures on board or canvas that he has blackened so that they resemble sheets of lead, from which the even darker features of his sitters loom; a change from his usual ochre, orange, grey and black, with thin, ink-like lines.
  • The outsize figures, including the strider in the last room (a ringer for Prince Phillip, if he’d had his hands behind his back); a welcome change from the usual size.  It’s a good exhibition, essential probably, so don’t be put off by my jaded comments.

 

Reina Sofia Museum (of 20th Century Art), Madrid

I’ve just spent four days in Madrid, three of them in art museums, so pretty much enough for three blogs.  The first of these we entered at 4.00pm, “fresh” off the plane – and emerged at closing time, 9.00pm, hungry and dehydrated.  Not because we couldn’t find the exit, but because there was so much excellent art to see.  I’m just going to put up our photos with, here and there, my perceptive and witty comments to add to your visual enjoyment.

Schwitters

Behind glass, so my partner’s form can be made out in the centre, taking the photo and enhancing the quality of the artwork.

Ortiz

Lovely little cubist picture.

Oscar Dominguez

He of Decalcomania fame – lots of Dominguez in this museum.

 

Another Dominguez – The Thrower.

It’s rather hard to make out, but it’s a legless, headless and handless black torso, with a thick shard of glass chopping into it at the top.  Compare these two little assemblages as Surrealist images with the Dali painting below:

Dali, The Invisible Man

It seems to me that the Dominguez pieces express in each case a clear idea, or at most a couple of ideas, succinctly, rather as Magritte does.  They are surrealistic, that is to say contradictory or paradoxical (to be “properly” Surrealist, I think they should also be dreamlike – not sure they are); but they also have clarity.  That, I think, is not the case with the Dali, despite the facility of depiction and the multiple images detract from the painting.   Then again, I don’t like Dali – but then, I’m not that keen on Magritte either, so moving on –

Picasso – no comment necessary.

Picasso again – just to point out the roughness (or texture, or painterliness) of the grey, orange and red areas in the lower picture; unusual, I think, in Picasso’s work and  the better for it – not that the untextured stuff isn’t stupendous…

 

Angeles Santos, The Gathering (1929)

There were several paintings by Santos and another painter, whose name escapes me, f.rom the 20s and 30s, in this style – I include them because they remind me rather strongly of Paula Rego’s work (although I much prefer Rego’s execution).

And then, a roomful of CoBrA stuff, to my surprise:

 

Corneille – I like the yellow with the red line.

Appel, Figures

And then,  rooms of abstract expressionism, Tachisme and pop Art:

Yves Klein, his version of Nike

Tapies, Blue with four Red Bars.  Does what it says on the can.

 

Guerrero – It’s a (huge) matchbook with a few missing.

There’s a lot more to see (Bruce Connor, Bay Area and LA artist, and the making of “Guernica” – both special exhibitions, so NO PHOTO, por favor!) so you’ll need to go to Madrid forthwith.  Next time, the Prado.

Here are a couple of mine:

Seated Back, pastel blue

 

Seated Front, pastel green

Blackpaint

21/05/17

 

Blackpaint 596 – Bigfoot, Ginger Man and Newfoundland

May 9, 2017

Willow Creek (2013, dir. Bobcat Goldthwaite)

This is a film that must have cost next to nothing to make, being a found-footage horror film about a pair of seekers after Bigfoot, or the Sasquatch as it is known by cryptozoologists.  Actually, it’s not a pair of seekers – Jim is the obsessive, Kelly his girlfriend is along for the ride.

Very cheap and pretty much like a spoof, until they get deep in the woods.  There is then a sequence where they cower in their tent in the night, while something “vocalises”, hits sticks together and bashes against the tent.  It goes on for about 20 minutes and is riveting – well, terrifying.  Probably if I saw it again, it would be nothing, but first time round…

The real thing.. no, really

I’m avoiding cliches again, so I’ll just say one meets a sticky end and the other a fate worse than death.  Watch it if it shows up again (the film, not Bigfoot); I wouldn’t have persisted with it if I hadn’t seen two documentaries on the Discovery channel about the Dyatlov Pass Incident in the Urals in 1959, which led to the unexplained violent deaths of nine Russian students.  Anyway, good film, not to be watched before you go camping in the woods.

The Ginger Man, JP Donleavy

I’ve written about this quite shocking book before and have just finished it.  It ends with another burst of violence against a woman who has the gall to be defiant to the disgusting “hero”, Sebastian Dangerfield; he slaps her repeatedly, threatens to use his boots on her and she of course submits, agreeing to give up her career as an actress and become a willing sex-slave to this thug, who can’t countenance  a woman of “his” having any independence.  Every woman in the book submits willingly to him, despite his constant drunken state, violence and dirty, bizarre clothing and behaviour.  It’s written in a sub-Joycean style – rip-off, really, from the vernacular sections of Ulysses – that was, surprisingly, highly praised.

Really, what shocks me about it is that I read it back in the 60s, maybe 1968 – and I thought it was hilarious.  So did most others of my age who read it then, male and female.  Or at least, they don’t remember the violence.  I remembered the drunken parade in the kangaroo suit as if it was the main event; it lasts a few pages and results in an unconvincing pub brawl, with KOs and injuries.

So, it’s a book “of its time” – tells you a lot about our attitudes then; not only teenagers like me, but grown-up literary critics regarded it as a sort of bawdy, joyous, drunken “romp” and Dangerfield as an incorrigible, lovable rogue.  I think there are certain similarities in the eccentricities and makeshift nature of the surroundings to Joyce Carey’s hugely superior “The Horse’s Mouth”.

Two new pictures to end with; I’ve given up trying to pretend my abstracts don’t look like landscapes.  Haven’t done any exhibitions, having been stuck in a gallery for two weeks, staring at my own paintings…

The Banks of Newfoundland

 

Panamatic Isthmus

Blackpaint

09/05/17

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

March 14, 2017

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 587 – What would you do if I sang out of tune? Estorick, V and A, Whitechapel…

February 20, 2017

War in the Sunshine, The British in Italy 1917 – 1918, Estorick Collection

Several nice exhibitions in the Estorick at the moment:  photographs of British soldiers in the Italian theatre are accompanied by the paintings and drawings of Sydney Carline, a pilot and painter who did the aerial combat shown below.  He survived the war, only to die of illness during his first exhibition in 1929.

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There is a permanent collection, mostly of Italian Futurists and Surrealists, Boccione (below), Severini, Carra, de Chirico and others: look out for three great charcoal portraits by Boccione, which remind one somewhat of Auerbach’s early charcoals, writ light perhaps.

Boccioni, Umberto; Modern Idol; Estorick Collection, London; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/modern-idol-132962

Finally, there is a roomful of drawings by Giorgio Morandi.  No prize for guessing the subject matter.  But there are bottles too and a couple of trees, I think.

 

Edward Paolozzi, Whitechapel Gallery

Paolozzi was definitely hyperactive; my mental picture is of him leaping from one mode of expression to another, bit of sculpture, poster, design a dress, print, collage, make a film…  Big, strong, scattering fag ash – did he smoke?  Must have, they all did then – producing furiously.  Then again, everything is finished so beautifully and is often so detailed that this impression is probably wrong; there’s nothing slapdash about his work.  And although you can see glimpses of other artists, it’s quite original.  A few examples below:

 

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Touch of David Smith about these, maybe?

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I’m pretty sure this collage was 1950, pre-dating the obvious Richard Hamilton piece by ……

 

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Here’s three of his pre – psychedelia prints.

 

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A later poster.  It occurs to me that he resembles Rauschenberg and Hamilton as an ideas man, as well as maybe Fernand Leger in his visual style and workmanlike demeanour.  Maybe also Sonia Delaunay – the dresses and plates.  I’ve omitted his well-known, boxy, thin metal sculptures with crusts of embedded cogwheels and other bits and pieces; the Frinck-like heads; collages of comics and magazines; surrealistic, Monty Python-ish films…

This is a timely resurrection of an artist who seemed, to me at least, to be somewhat overlooked.  An explosive, exhausting artist.

You Say You Want a Revolution, the Victoria and Albert Museum

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It’s a pure nostalgia wallow, for the throng of  white haired ex-hippies – can this lot REALLY have worn loons and long hair and smoked dope and dropped acid and capered like idiots in the mud at Bath and the Isle of White?  No, of course not – it was just me.  the only cry to be heard, over and over again, unnaturally loud over the soundtrack playing into their earphones, was: “Look!  I used to have that one – and I’ve still got all three of those!”  Vinyl albums in the racks…  Biba, Granny Takes a Trip, Blow-Up, Stones, Pepper, Jethro Tull, CSNand Y, Joni, Janice, Jimi, Leary, Stokely, Huey, Eldridge, Angela – there’s Charlie! –  Vietnam, Kent State, Grosvenor Square –  some other stuff about space and Expo and then back to the real thing – a series of outtakes from Woodstock, mashed together to give 15 or 20 minutes.  Great Grace Slick and Airplane; oh no, Joan Baez – but thank God, saved by Joe Cocker; not enough Janice; Jimi’s “Star Spangled Banner”; Country Joe, “What does that spell?”; The Who, sounding rather lethargic to me – Live at the IOW is much better; the bloke who cleans the toilets and has one son in the crowd and another in Vietnam;  Arlo, completely out of his head..  I didn’t enjoy it at all.  Who’s that old git think he’s looking at?  Shit, it’s me, in the mirror glass…

The Cast Room, Victoria and Albert

After, walking through the cast room, we came upon this fabulous Michelangelo, which I’m sure I’ve never seen before:

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Another great back to add to my collection, with Kitaj, Ginger etc.

 

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And this, in one of the Medieval rooms: Agostino di Duccio, I think.  It’s got a sort of Bosch feel to it, somehow.

Soutine

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I love Soutine.  Everything’s a bit (or a lot) bent in his pictures, especially out on the fields, where people sometimes walk on their sides like in Sokurov’s “Mother and Son”.

A Bigger Splash, (Luca Guadagnino, 2015) DVD

Starring Swinton, Fiennes, Schoenaerts and Dakota Johnson, this is the most ludicrous film I have ever seen.   We turned it off in the Fiennes/Swinton kareoke scene, but having bought the DVD, I watched the rest after my partner went to bed.  It improved, because Schoenaerts finally drowned Fiennes in the swimming pool, which he should have done much sooner.  I was astonished to see it described somewhere as a comedy-drama and more so at the quote from Monocle, on the case: “A dazzling, sun-soaked masterpiece”.

Two life drawings to finish:  one ballerina,  doing three poses in each drawing.

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Yes, I know it looks like she’s kicking her mate…

Next time, Hockney and Tillmans at the Tates, and Picasso at Barsa, which I didn’t get round to, this time.

Blackpaint

20/02/17

Blackpaint 565 – Giacometti at UEA, Redford, Boris and Eating Livers

August 11, 2016

Giacometti et al at Sainsbury Centre, (UEA, outside Norwich)

Great exhibition, if you like Giacometti; it strikes me that some people, especially women,  have a sort of religious regard for him – I think it might be that craggy, handsome face, bit like Michelangelo but apparently heterosexual.  And he’s sort of Italian…

 

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There’s no denying the appeal of his “strider”; see the great Cartier-Bresson photo of G striding past his strider sculpture.

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Great self portrait, before the marks and lines of age made him craggy/distinguished; the older G always reminds me of the late British/Austrian blues populiser Alexis Korner.

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I love this sculpture of his brother in a thick sweater, BUT…

 

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..I have a bit of a blind spot about his drawing – I think it’s insipid.  Anyway, it’s well worth a visit, accompanied as it is  by a number of comparable sculptures by the likes of William Turnbull, Kenneth Armitage, Lynn Chadwick, Bernard Meadows and others.  There are also several paintings by Isabel Rawsthorne, famous for Bacon’s pictures of her.  Also see the fabulous Picasso naked woman and the Soutine Blue portrait in the permanent collection upstairs.

Jeremiah Johnson (Dir. Sidney Pollack, 1972)

Finally saw this film the other night on TV and was most impressed.  Surely the director of “The Revenant” must have been familiar with it; there are  many parallels in the stories, both based on fact, allegedly.  And the scene where Johnson (Robert Redford) discovers the frozen corpse of Hatchet Jack and takes his Hawken gun – it’s Jack Nicholson, frozen to death in the maze at the end of “The Shining”.

Below, some lookalikes:

 

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Redford as Johnson.

Tube strike...Mayor of London Boris Johnson and commuters cross the Victoria Embankment, in central London, as a 48 hour strike by the RMT union causes widespread disruption to the London Underground. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 10, 2009. The 48 hour strike started at 7pm last night after last-ditch talks over pay, jobs and disciplinary issues, broke down. See PA story INDUSTRY Tube. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski /PA Wire

Johnson as Johnson – a strong resemblance, surely?

Finally-

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The real Johnson – known as Liver Eating Johnson, because of his unsavoury treatment of the Crow tribesmen who attempted to kill him- obligingly, one at a tine, as someone in the film remarks.

The Guardian:  “Labour in Turmoil…”

Said I would avoid politics, but I have to comment on the Guardian’s article today, about Tom Watson’s spurious accusations of Trotskyist entryism in the Labour Party.  That “Labour in turmoil” tag – typical Mail or Telegraph.  Labour is ALWAYS in turmoil.  The Guardian’s just the Sun for snobs.

A Study in Scarlet. Conan Doyle

Since I’ve been told that those, like me, who voted for Brexit, read books mainly for the stories, I thought I’d better put Proust and Finnegans Wake to one side for the time being and read a rattling good narrative.  And so the above is.  I was fascinated to discover that Holmes by no means knows everything – Watson tells us that he knows nothing about fictional literature, little about politics, little about botany other than poisonous plants – in fact, his knowledge is purposely patchy.  He believes that when you learn one fact, it pushes another out, so you must be careful about what you learn.   This, I’m informed, is also the Homer Simpson theory of knowledge…

I’ve finally finished a painting, and this is it:

I Mailed it in the Air 2

I Mailed it in the Air 2

Blackpaint

12.08.16