Posts Tagged ‘Ad Reinhardt’

Blackpaint 570 – AbExes at the RA and the Thin Man in the City

September 30, 2016

Abstract Expressionism at the RA

Fantastic, of course; the best show in London since the RA’s Diebenkorn, which was not that long ago (OK, Auerbach at Tate Britain was also great, but I think the Diebenkorn had the edge, with the three distinct styles/periods/modes, whatever you wish to call them).  Back to AbExes – I went on Saturday when it opened; queued for only 10 minutes and for once, it wasn’t throgged with immovable punters, walkie-talkies clapped to their ears, so you could see some of the paintings.. and sculptures, mustn’t forget David Smith and a few Barnett Newmans.

I’ll be going again and again, for sure, so this is nowhere near exhaustive:

  • The Guston and Mitchell paintings made Frankenthaler’s “Europa” look rather dowdy, on the far right of the wall.

guston-prague

Guston, Prague

  • The stunning Mitchell “Salut Tom”; four huge panels of white, blue and yellow, Monet of course and a little bit Cy Twombly, those panels of the seasons that were in the Tate Modern a while back.

salut-tom

  • When you look through the archway at the two small pink, green and yellow de Koonings, they look like Toulouse Lautrecs.
  • The Clyfford Stills, most of them, are great on their own but as Laura Cummings says in the Observer, putting them all in one room next to each other, they tend to drain the others’ glory.

still

 

  • This is NOT the case with the de Koonings, however, before which you can only – well, I can only stand in awe.  Sorry, hyperbole creeping in – I could do lots of things, ONE of them being to stand in awe.  A couple of fantastic Women, “Whose name was writ on water”, “Villa Borghese” with its green sweeps, the yellow and grey one with its yellow sweeps, that juicy red one, the collage with the tin tacks…  He’s the guv’nor, no question.

dk-water

de Kooning  – Whose name Was Writ on Water

  • Pollock’s not bad either.  I’m quite familiar with Pollock’s work, so the one enjoyed most was the 1943 “Mural” with the repeated green figures.

pollock-mural

Pollock, Mural

  • Can’t get on with Barnett Newman, sorry to say; I don’t like that liverish red/brown he uses, or the orange zips.
  • Rothko – an unusual, scrapy, scrappy blue and yellow panel on paper.
  • Lovely, punchy B&W Klines and an unusual wobbly one.

kline

Franz Kline – Zinc Door

  • Ad Reinhardt, pursuing his obsessions to their black ends – one of his, with spidery lines and figures, just like a Constant.
  • Guston’s paint, especially on the cartoon one (yes I know, but they DO look like cartoons) is greasy, dobby and looks moist.
  • And then there’s Jack Tworkov, with the diagonal slashes of colour.

Enough for now.  I’ve been reading “Anti-Matter” by Ben Jeffries, an extended essay about Houellebecq and “Depressive Realism” in which there is a discussion of Faking It – the idea that all works of art are “fake”, even when they are avowedly realist.  I think that’s right in a sense, and particularly right for the AbExes; once you are putting paint on a support, brushing, dripping, blading, flicking, you are faking it, unless it’s a real action picture and even then, you choose the paint, so there is a gap.  Rothko is not in some transcendant state when he paints, at least not most of the time; he’s thinking how to portray his feelings/revelations – the ones he’s already had, that is.  He’s faking it.

Doesn’t matter – they’re fantastic anyway, faking it or not.

Metropolis, dir. Fritz Lang (1927) 

metropolis

I’ve been watching the print found in Buenos Aires, and shown on BBC, in 30 minute chunks – I have a short attention span.  Once you get past the hero’s make-up, curly hair and jodphurs, it’s full of influence: so far, I’ve got montage scenes recalling Grosz; Rotwang the inventor’s false hand in leather glove (Dr.Strangelove);  Frankenstein, of course; the downtrodden, Zombie-like workers have offspring in the Wizard of Oz, Popeye cartoons and  – zombie films; all films with an underground or hi-tec citadel – Indiana Jones, James Bond films, Wallis and Gromit..  No doubt, there will be many more.  And it has another memorable villain to add to the gallery: Fritz Rasp as the “Thin Man”.

rasp

Fritz Rasp – watch the film, you’ll laugh – but he’ll come to you in your dreams….

islares-2

Islares under Cloud

Blackpaint

30.09.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 91

March 19, 2010

Hooray, hooray – computer seems alright today

Black

Must be the influence of Ad – I’ve started covering, or nearly covering canvas in black paint, thick, with short horizontal and vertical interwoven brushstrokes.  Unlike Ad – my purpose and focus is not as clear as his – I then add lighter colours such as ochre and white/grey.  It’s different; but is it good?

Not like this – I did this one ages ago – but like this

Apart from Reinhardt, there has been a bunch of painters who have done black paintings: Malevich of course, Franz Kline (they look like black on plain canvas, but actually black and white), Pierre Soulages, Frank Stella and Rothko – actually dark grey, but look black.  Amongst British painters, William Scott .

Henry Moore

Lovely Culture Show programme last night, with that great colour shot of the freight train travelling across the American (or maybe Canadian) prairie with a huge, knuckly Moore in two pieces, lashed onto a flatbed freightcar.  The Laura Cumming’s reference to his “knitted tie” (see Blackpaint 80) was sort of explained; he was apparently never without a tie.  There was a television DIY man in the 50s called Barry Bucknall, who always wore a collar and tie, sleeveless jumper and shirt with sleeves rolled up high – Moore reminded me of him.  Also, Michael Hordern; the absent-minded expression maybe – and, oddly, a meek Ted Hughes, if that’s not a contradiction.  Probably because they were both Yorkshiremen.

Listening to “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult – horrible words encouraging suicide, but a compelling chord sequence and hypnotic harmonies.

Blackpaint, now painting it black,

20.03.10

Blackpaint 90

March 18, 2010

What is happening?? WordPress seems to have gone nuts.  will try again tomorrow, but today unable to download pictures and system keeps logging me out.  Just words today, I’m afraid.

Asger Jorn

Writing about Jorn yesterday, it occurred to me that the Tate Modern should follow up the Van Doesburg show with something wild by way of contrast – The CoBrA lot, especially Jorn, Appel and Constant, for example.  Lots of slatched-on, swirling colours, little demon heads emerging out of the murk – would make a lovely contrast to the squares, triangles and DISCIPLINE of Mondrian, VD et al.  Or maybe some of the wilder Abstract Expressionists; Gotz, Shiraga, even Joan Mitchell…  Then again, I’d love to see some Hans Hoffmans, Eva Hesse, Helen Frankenheimer..

Ad Reinhardt

A while back, I quoted Reinhardt’s aphorism: “Art is art.  Everything else is everything else”.  That was in 1958; in the early 60’s, he expanded the original – “Art is art-as-art.  Everything else is everything else.  Art-as-art is nothing but art.  Art is not what is not art.”  From 1954 until his death in 1967, he painted in various shades of black, so, writing as Blackpaint, I have to declare Reinhardt as a hero.  I fear I will never achieve his focus and clarity of purpose, however.  And his brother Django was a brilliant guitarist, of course.

I can’t see whether this picture has downloaded properly, but will publish anyway.

Blackpaint

18.03.10

Blackpaint 83

March 9, 2010

Ad Reinhardt

Quote of the week from above: “Art is art; everything else is everything else”.  I think that about sums it all up.

Thomas Demand

Great name; like Fischli and Weiss, he creates perfect facsimiles of reality – only he makes them out of treated paper, as miniatures.

Chris Ofili

I’ve been reading the interview he gave in this month’s Tate magazine and came across this: “..the minute I make the first move with the brush, I have to make a decision either to refer to the drawings I’ve been working on, or to start having a more direct discussion with what’s in front of me.  At first I work with photos or sketches….and after a while, this thing starts to talk back….this thing starts to make firm demands, and you start to risk losing your original plan.”  Later, he refers to “that point where the material starts to do things for you…”.  So there it is again; over and over, from figurative as well as abstract painters, that idea of the painting doing itself through the painter.  Ofili puts it in such a way, though, that you don’t immediately reject it as pseudo-mystical, New Age crap.  Not immediately.

Perspective and foreshortening

Doing this last week at life drawing, I was struck again by how huge those close sheep are (or in this case, feet); it’s always a surprise.  I was most struck (stricken?) however, years ago, copying an equestrian statue from the rear, by the size of the horse’s arse.  Funny though, how in the Caravaggio below, the right hand of the gesturing man is the same size as his left, which being towards us, should be much bigger – but yet, it doesn’t look wrong.

 

Here’s my latest, in which foreshortening is not an issue.

Blackpaint

09.03.10