Posts Tagged ‘Alan Davie’

Blackpaint 648 – Cornwall, Caland, Goncharova

June 26, 2019

Tate St. Ives

This was like a visit to a load of old friends.  The light in the all white building, with the huge, vivid Patrick Heron window and the flanking mirror windows set at angles to display the beach and sea, seems to set these mostly abstract works off beautifully; the way some of them are spaced out on the ground floor foyer, the Joan Mitchell and Peter Lanyon below, for instance, shows them to their best advantage,  Below, some of my favourites:

Winifred Nicholson, not Ben, as might be expected

 

Another Winifred Nicholson, by way of contrast to the above.

 

Great view through archway; sculpture by Lanyon, painting Brian Wynter (don’t know who did the pots)

 

Winifred Barns-Graham, “Red Form”

 

Karel Appel

 

Appel (detail) – you can get an idea of how thick the paint is laid on.

 

Alan Davie, “Fish God” – love the bent shark penis…

 

Joan Mitchell – lovely brush sweeps, drips and colours, as always

 

Peter Lanyon, “Thermals” – you’re in that churning ocean…

 

Huguette Caland, Tate St. Ives until 1st September

Mostly work from the late 60s and 70s, Lebanese/American artist, specialising in stylised erotica; lips, breasts and bottoms, to be more exact, as can be seen from examples below.  Some of the drawings we saw at the Venice Biennale by her a couple of years ago were far more graphic than these, as I recall…  She was the daughter of the Lebanon’s first president, by the way, so probably no advantage there.

 

I like the fuzziness of the line.. wonder what the inspiration was…

 

A style distinctly reminiscent of Beatles record covers, “Yellow submarine”, perhaps – and maybe a touch of Terry Gilliam?

 

The forerunner of all those bare tits on plastic aprons, worn by barbecuing men…

 

Natalia Goncharova, Tata Modern until 8th September

Pre-Revolutionary painter; strange, we tend (I do anyway) to think of the 1917 revolution kicking off a period of wild experiment, creativity and openness in the arts – whereas it was all already going on, with the likes of Goncharova.

 

I like her chunky, big-footed women, roughly carved out of wood by the look of them.

 

Touch of Gauguin about this one.

 

Not keen on this – too Lempiska for me –  but it demonstrates the range.

 

Costume design, not sure for what, maybe le Coq d’Or; for my money, her costume designs are better than her paintings.  There’s a great film excerpt of a ballet performance with Goncharova’s costumes, I think in Canada in the 50s…

Novel on Yellow Paper, Stevie Smith

I thought this would be a quick easy read when I picked it up as a 2nd hand Penguin Modern Classic in Suffolk recently.  It’s very thin, after all, and there’s a faux naif self-portrait by Smith on the cover – looks childish.  Turns out that it’s tougher going than Virginia Woolf and even as difficult as some bits of Joyce (not Finnegan, obviously – although she does have a sort of arch private way of expressing herself, very irritating at times).  I think that Glenda Jackson played her in a film and, I suppose it’s suggestion, but I can’t imagine anyone’s voice other than Jackson’s, as I read it.  No discernible plot – a collection of random remembrances and observations on all sorts; religion, education, sex, Germany, Nazism (it was written in the 30s),,

Prater Violet, Christopher Isherwood

Also thin, Penguin Modern Classic, written in the 30s, a portrait of a Jewish emigre film director, making a pot boiler romantic fantasy movie in London, with Isherwood as the young writer assisting him.  MUCH easier read than Smith; now to re-read “Mr. Norris Changes Trains” and the other Berlin books.

A couple of collages and a couple of paintings to end with; I think I’ve found a sort of 60s SF American paperback cover style with the blue and yellow men below.

Seated Woman Collage

 

 

Standing Woman Collage

 

Blue Man

 

Yellow Man

Blackpaint, 26/06/19

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 645 – Bellany and Davie; Skates, Bats, Donkeys and Diamonds

May 22, 2019

John Bellany and Alan Davie,  “Cradle of Magic”, Newport Street Gallery until 2nd June

A special, supplementary blog about one show, because it’s soon to close.  This brilliant free exhibition, all works owned by Damien Hirst, has been on since February, but somehow I’ve managed to miss it up to now – and there’s only ten or so days left; so if you possibly can, you need to get to Vauxhall Gardens and see this.

Both Scotsmen, Bellany died in 2013, Davie in 2014 at 94.  Bellany was figurative, Davie abstract – yet their paintings somehow go together, bounce off each other.  Maybe it’s colour, maybe brushwork (sometimes);  don’t know.  I’ve mixed them up, as they are mixed in the gallery, although not in the same order.

Bellany’s paintings, which are enigmatic, I think it’s fair to say, bring to my mind a range of painters; Ensor, perhaps, is foremost.  Skulls, masks, hanged men, groups of solemn, dark-clad men staring out at the viewer, the disconsolate skate/ray fish in the picture below; a general sort of cartoonish quality.  Both Ensor and Bellany lived in coastal towns; Ensor in Ostend, Bellany in the fishing village of Port Seton, near Edinburgh. Others: Max Beckmann, Soutine (another skate man), Arthur Boyd (his “Scapegoat” has the donkey – AND a skate fish, in the Australian desert) and Kitaj somehow, in the drawing and breadth of subject matter.

 

Bellany – Title? Date?

The skate king on his throne.  What are they, birds or bats?  Beckmann here, I think, and in Rose of Sharon below.

 

Davie – Bath Darling, 1956

Davie was a jazz musician and a pilot as well as a painter – a youtube fragment on him (Allan Paints a Picture) shows him at the piano – I think it’s “Getting Sentimental Over You” but the chords are rather free – reciting poetry at the same time, and reminding me a bit of Ron Geesin.  Unlike Geesin, he looks pretty tough as a young man, muscular and long-bearded.  He was feted in the states by the likes of Pollock, Kline and the other AbExes, and the painting below clearly shows the influence of Pollock and maybe de Kooning.  He combined the freedom of gesture (the black sweeps in the picture below, the drips and spatters above) with rich colour and a repertoire of recurring symbols (wheels, snakes, diamonds, images taken from rock pictures by indigenous people in St. Lucia, where he lived for 10 years).

Davie – Red Parrot Jay, 1960

 

Bellany – Eyemouth 1985

The look of love or hunger from the giant seagull?

 

Bellany – Rose of Sharon, 1973

The skate again.  A hint of Mexican influence here?

 

Davie – Romance for Moon and Stars, 1964

 

Davie – Trio for Bones, 1960

 

Davie – A Diamond Romance, 1964

In all three of these Davie pictures, there is the combination of rich colour, symbol and gesture – the rough and smooth elements that sometimes suggest Bacon’s work, without the figures of course, but a potent combination.  In more recent paintings (not represented here) the symbols remain but the rough gesturalism has gone – and the paintings are poorer for it, in my view.

 

Bellany – The Journey, 1989

Very reminiscent of the Boyd painting I mentioned earlier; also a touch of Kitaj in the execution.

A rather solemn portrait from (but not of) me to finish:

Man of Sorrows

Blackpaint

22.05.19

 

 

Blackpaint 576 – Coprophagia, Clowns and Coogan

November 25, 2016

Robert Motherwell, Bernard Jacobson Gallery

Sorry, done it again – last day today.  Great little exhibition though, opposite the rear of the RA.  These three are big ones – 177, 194 cms, that sort of order; “California” (1959) is a bit like a Frankenheimer and “The Studio” (1987) surely channels Matisse.

mother-1

The Mexican Window (1974)

 

mother-2

California (1959)

 

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The Studio (1987)

 

Intrigue – James Ensor, presented by Luc Tuymans, RA

Bowled over by this; he had two or three styles, like Kitaj.  Here, in this dark one, he’s like Sickert –  there, in that dark drawing room, like Vuillard.  You can see Van Gogh, Turner (the green stage one, very like the Petworth Turners), Goya’s witches and penitents, Brueghel, Moreau – even Munch, but better.  Apart from the dark rooms, there are the fantastic still lifes, the skate, the cabbage and flowers with their sizzling, fizzing background – you’ll see what I mean – and the masks, chinoiserie, clowns, processions, skeletons, satirical cartoons (the Bad Doctors, winding out the patient’s small intestine, like an early martyr) – and a group of critics round the table, eating shit; first coprophagic instance.

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The Drunkards

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The Bad Doctors

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Intrigue

 

Alan Davie, the Seventies, Gimpel Fils until 14th Jan.

A rather disappointing flatness to these – no texture, no roughness.  In the gallery’s photo, however, they look brilliant.

davie-1

 

davie-2

Collections of symbols/motifs (fruit segment moons, stripey snakes, Ace of Clubs (cf. Diebenkorn), lips, crowns…  sometimes reminds me, superficially,  of Aboriginal art, or should that be first nation Australian?

Always on Sunday – Rousseau (Ken Russell, 1965) – DVD of 3 Russell films for Monitor and Omnibus.

The artist James Lloyd plays Douanier Rousseau with his own broad Yorkshire accent in this Russell film for Monitor; it works brilliantly, of course.  Russell has a woman, Annette Robertson (below) playing Alfred Jarry, the tiny anarchist playwright and revolver enthusiast, author of “Pere Ubu”, who befriends Rousseau.  At a perfrormance of Ubu, the bourgeoisie gobble a stew of faeces on stage; in case you miss it, an actor announces”shitter!”, twice, to the disgust and outrage of the audience – second coprophagic episode.

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Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World –  (Ken Russell, 1966)

Isadora (Vivian Pickles) and 500 children in floaty costumes ran down a hill at the Devil’s Punchbowl in Surrey, towards the cameras and Ken waiting at the bottom. Unfortunately, they all ran to the right instead of parting and flowing past Ken on both sides, so they had to go back up and do it again.  Brilliant TV film of course. but NOT the feature film that I remember; that was based on a different memoir and directed by Karel Reisz.  It starred Vanessa Redgrave and in one memorable montage sequence, showed Isadora arriving at “London” station.  I think Readers Digest funded it.

kenrussell2

Nomad, Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan)

Alan Partridge and James Joyce are similar, in that their respective styles penetrate and corrupt anything you read immediately afterwards.  I remarked before on how Finnegans Wake affects me; I tend to read a few pages at a time, then move on to another book – for a while, you think you are still reading “Wake” and you can’t properly take in the new text.  I had the exact same thing with Partridge and Proust.  Granted, Alan was discussing the way his excess fat tends to form on his back and Marcel was spending three pages or so describing milk boiling over…

Three small ones on wood panel and one (Seated Figure ) on canvas:

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Seated Figure

 

hard-abstract

Fleeing Figure

 

still-life-with-orange

Still Life with Orange and Banana

 

yellow-bridge

Bridgehead 2

Blackpaint

25.11.16

Blackpaint 530 – The Angels, the Superhighway and the Deer Hunter

January 31, 2016

London Art Fair, the Angel Islington

Finished last week, I’m afraid;  a great little “exhibition-within-the-exhibition” from the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings; my favourite was the “Winter Landscape” by Barns-Graham – tiny but good.

barns-graham

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

Other highlights below:

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Dorothy Mead 

A Bomberg disciple – but these are every bit as good as DB, in my view.

 

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Keith Vaughan

Very unusual Vaughan – touch of Bacon in the middle, possibly?

 

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Alan Davie

There were dozens of Davies (and Roger Hiltons and quite a few Hitchens); high quality ratio though, with his trademark symbols, lovely blues and yellows and rough surfaces.

Electronic Superhighway, Whitechapel Gallery

Private view of this on Thursday night; the usual roar and surge of the crowd to get to the free drinks before 7.00pm, after which time you have to pay.

The term was coined by Nam June Paik, whose exhibit was one of those – maybe the first one of those –  batteries of TVs, each showing a recurring series of visually explosive images too fast for you to grasp more than one at a time, with an accompaniment of cacophonous sound.  The theme of the exhibition is the effect of computers and the internet on art.  The theme was more evident in some pieces than others…

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Deathoknocko, Albert Oehlen

Combination of computerised inkjet and hand painting.

sedgley

Peter Sedgley

Light projection from 1970.

 

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Celia Hempton

These are screen-size paintings of images from the internet – some – ahem! – rather controversial, perhaps…

 

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Vera Molnar

Several printout works from 60s and 70s.

Rabelais and Joyce

As I get further into “Gargantua and Pantagruel”, the more I am struck by the similarities to “Finnegans Wake”.  The long list of books in the library of St. Victor with their ridiculous titles is only one small step back from Joyce, as are the encounters with the Limousin who speaks gibberish and Panurge,  who talks sense – but in a variety of languages, including Hebrew and Basque(!) that his interlocutors can’t understand.

I got quite excited about this “discovery”, wondering if there was a thesis knocking about on the subject in some European or US university – then I read the excellent translator’s introduction by JM Cohen.  There it all was, similarities of Rabelais and Joyce, written in 1954…..

However, I feel that there are sufficient grounds to advance another of my reincarnation propositions here (see previous Blackpaints, which prove that Shakespeare was the reincarnation of Michelangelo).  Both Rabelais (or Alcofribas Nasir, as he called himself – work it out) and Joyce did long lists; both spoke and used a variety of languages, some rather obscure, in their works; and both wrote passages – in Joyce’s case, hundreds of pages – of “nonsense”.  Case proven.

The Deer Hunter

I had one of those cinematic moments last night, when you’re in a noisy public place and suddenly everything goes sort of silent, or merges into an unspecific background drone and things go slow motion.  Could well be wrong, but I think it was “The Deer Hunter” – wedding scene maybe, Meryl Streep dancing and laughing – it’s a cliche, of course, probably used in loads of films by now.

Anyway, I was sitting in a packed and roaring Tooting pub, third pint of London Stout before me, celebrating my eldest son’s birthday and engagement.  I looked at the bar and there they were, the three brothers and their girlfriends, laughing and shouting to each other above the noise, eyes shining – and the Deer Hunter moment clocked in, inside my head, and lasted probably only a couple of seconds.  Then I was aware of it and it went.  First, I was happy and proud; then I had a moment of near dread; everything changes, it will never be like this again…

So those effects are cliches, melodramatic and worn out; but very effective, nonetheless.

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Exterminating Angel (work in prog)

Blackpaint

31/01/16

Blackpaint 452 – Folk Art, Song and Flowers of the Field

June 26, 2014

British Folk Art, at Tate Britain  

Now I have my membership card, I’m trying to make it pay for itself in a few weeks – so, back to Folk Art and Kenneth Clark again.  I didn’t mention Walter Greaves, the painter who Whistler discovered and apparently turned into a version of himself (see the result on display).  Before the Whistlerisation, Greaves had painted a picture of Hammersmith Bridge, with every precarious foot-or bum-hold occupied by a foot (or bum), watching the passage of the Boat Race crews on the river below.  Could it really be accurate?

Hammersmith Bridge on Boat-race Day c.1862 by Walter Greaves 1846-1930

 

Then, there is a dark brownish landscape with distorted trees and maybe horses, that’s just like some of the Ben Nicholsons at Dulwich, that I covered a blog or two ago.  There’s a field full of angry bulls in another picture and immense pigs in yet another.  I see my memory played me tricks when I described a couple of other things: the man taking a crap behind the tree is being stalked by men with muskets, not a pack of dogs as I said – and the elegant figurehead is wearing a brown, not blue hat.

Other new stuff at Tate B

Not new of course, but newly out of storage – or new to me, anyway:

Two great, sombre Bombergs – “Bomb Store” I believe.  Reminded me of Rouault.

There’s a whole room of Alan Davie, who died a few weeks ago.  Best pictures are “Fish God” (see previous blog, “Shark Penis of the Fish God”) and “Sacrifice”, a rough, dirty tangle on a great blue ground.

alan davie

That “Fauvist” portrait of a woman is by Fergusson, one of the Scottish Colourists – get the little book of SC postcards.

fergusson

There’s a beautiful bowl somewhere, by William Nicholson, Ben’s father.

And there’s that brilliantly coloured abstract in the same room as the Basil Beattie, which looks really crude close up – but absolutely beautiful from across the room.  Can’t remember the name – sounds North African to me – so can’t find a photo, but you will know what I mean when you see it.

Nineteen Eighty -Four

I’ve just got to the bit where Winston reads Goldstein’s book.  In it, Goldstein relates how the permanent state of war existing between Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia has had the effect of stabilising their economies by burning off surplus capital that would otherwise lead to crises of overproduction.  this seems just a whisker away from the “permanent arms economy” described – not sure if its his original idea – by Michael Kidron, in his old Pelican(?) paperback, “Western Capitalism Since the War”.  He’s writing about the Cold War and the constant renewal of military hardware, but still, pretty close.  Years since I read the Kidron and I’ve lost my copy, so maybe he mentions Orwell.

Flowers of the Field (to 13th July)

A  play by Kevin Mandry at the White Bear pub theatre in Kennington; it fits nicely with the British Folk Art exhibition, where the DVD, made by the British film Institute, entitled “Here’s a Health to the Barley Mow” is on sale.  The play, set in 1916,  concerns the efforts of a war-damaged British officer to collect folk songs in rural Sussex; he inadvertently walks into a drama to do with the ownership of a farm and the efforts of a young girl to avoid  forced marriage to a rapacious landowner.  The difficulties faced by the officer in getting the locals to come up with the real goods, as opposed to hymns, old music hall songs and ballads, make for some very funny scenes and echo real problems faced by the early collectors, like Cecil Sharp and Percy Grainger.

The second half is darker, concerned as it is with the question of the farm and the marriage.  The song which the officer eventually succeeds in recording, is a southern version of “I Once Loved a Lass”.  This is a Scottish variation, recorded among others by Sandy Denny.  Words different, but similar; tune pretty much the same in both versions.

I saw my love to the church go,

With brides and brides’ maidens, she made a fine show,

And I followed on with a heart full of woe,

For she’s gone to be wed to another.

As for the DVD, the High Spens Sword Dance group and the Britannia Coconut Dancers (not blacked up here) have to be seen.

Il Bidone

Fellini’s great film about con men in 50’s Italy, starring the monumental Broderick Crawford (he looked almost the same throughout his career, give or take a few white hairs).  Apparently Fellini used him for his presence – he didn’t act much, just did himself, according to the commentary.  I think he was effective across a fair range though – menace, dignity, vulnerability, pathos, cynicism – and he could really wear a big, shapeless suit.  The music, inevitably by Nino Rota, is very reminiscent of “Blackadder”.

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Lizard Reunion

Blackpaint

26.06.14

 

Blackpaint 430 – Abstraction at the Fair; Murder in the Mountains

January 18, 2014

London Art Fair

Some stunning paintings at the above – well worth a visit.  Three fantastic Lanyons to start with. all from the early 60s:

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art fair lanyon 2

art fair lanyon 3

This one is “Pony” – didn’t get the other names.

The fair’s on for a while, so I’ll just put in a couple more of my favourites, these ones by the Scots painter Philip Reeves:

art fair philip reeves 1

art fair philip reeves 2

Rather like John Golding, I thought – until I saw the large number of Goldings at the fair, none of which were like the Reeves, or indeed, the Golding that was shown at the Tate in the 80th birthday slot a while ago, and that I featured in an earlier blog.

The fair has, as usual, loads of great Alan Davies, Keith Vaughans, blinding prints by Bert Irvin and Anthony Frost and a big Kazua Shiraga; heavy, dense -coloured ropes and splodges of deep paint, no doubt hurled in handfuls at the canvas and swept through with a broom.  You might not like it but it’s definitely there.  More pictures (Peter Kinley, Bruce McLean, William Gear) next blog.

Ornulf Opdahl

I think it’s spelt right – Norwegian painter of large, dark sea and mountain-scapes, with cracks and shafts of light penetrating the murk, back at Kings Place; they are really impressive when seen in the round on vast white walls.  He must get through gallons of Prussian Blue.

opdahl

 

The Reconstruction, Angelopoulos

His first film, 1970, set in a bleak mountain village, all stone houses and stone wall  mazes – reminded me of Aran Isles – rain, mud, snow, crisp black and white; the murder of a husband, returning from work in Germany, by his wife and her brutal lover.  They turn on each other – who was the instigator, who the follower? Wild Greek songs, villagers bent with labour, narrative in series of flashbacks – first in a box set.

Heaven’s Gate – Director’s Cut

Complete contrast, the Cimino film a series of big set pieces, beginning with a spectacular waltz scene and riotous college graduation ceremony and shifting to a murderous war on immigrants waged by hired guns in Wyoming.  Kristofferson, Bridges, Hurt, Walken, Huppert… wage bill must have been huge.  The “operatic” style I associate more with the Angelopoulos of “Weeping Meadows” period.  Maybe a touch of “1900” in there, too.

Mrs.Dalloway

The experimental stuff I’ve been discussing seemed to dwindle away in the latter stages of the book, as Woolf focuses on the decline and suicide of Septimus, the ramblings of Peter Walsh and the bringing together of these strands at Clarissa’s party.  I found Walsh’s habit of opening and closing the blade of his pocket knife rather disconcerting.  It has, perhaps, a different resonance for those of us who watch Silent Witness, The Fall et al.  I’m going to the lighthouse next.

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Laurels

Blackpaint

18.01.14

Blackpaint 355 – Shark Penis of the Fish God

August 16, 2012

The Tanks at Tate Modern

The cement walls alternate in texture, smooth and rough, and colour, white, grey, honey – like walking through chambers cut from hard cheese.  Along with the massive black, bolted girders the tanks are an artwork in themselves.  You could take photos of corners and crannies, bung them in frames and flog them at craft fairs.

The first “room”, The Crystal Quilt by Suzanne Lacy, shows a speeded-up top shot of figures flicking in and out of a seated area in a church or concert hall with a red polygonal centre.  On the wall is a tapestry of the same pattern.  I thought the film was of Tate Modern itself but it was made in 1987.  Turns out it was Mother’s Day in Minneapolis; 430 women over 60 gathered in a shopping centre around a giant quilting pattern.

Next “room”, Temper Clay by Sung Hwan Kim; massive, lots going on in corners, against wall; videos on several TVs, sound (some intriguing harmonies and rhythms, Korean presumably, narratives and poetry on different screens, misty white park scenes, skyscrapers in sharp focus, prostrate youth looking soulful…  An exhibit to wander into again and again, I suspect something different every time – very satisfying, so long as you don’t look for joined-up intellectual meaning…  “Temper Clay” is a quote from King Lear and there is a long article in the Tanks programme notes explaining – can’t be bothered, I’d rather just enjoy what’s there without having to read what it all means.

Upstairs to the AbEx room again – that Guston “Head” with the tangled grey brushstrokes sort of thatched around it.  The Alan Davie “Image of the Fish God”.

Always gives me a shiver, this one; I think its the shark-like shape on the left, rising out of the black figure like a penis.  A while ago, there was a documentary on the Discovery Channel about one of those mad Americans who messes about with Great White Sharks.  He was towing a seal-shaped dinghy in waters frequented by Great Whites, in order to find out if…WHAM!! A huge, columnar, penis shape, with a lemon slice mouth full of teeth just hurtled straight up, gushing sea water, sending the dinghy skywards (probably with a great bite out of it) and sank straight back to the depths, leaving the shark botherer whimpering with shock.  Anyway, the Davie picture gives me just the slightest sliver of that sensation.

Campbells, near Tate Modern

Flogs old catalogues for two quid a throw – have recommended it before – got Sotheby’s for 2004 today, with three pictures that justify a love for abstraction and demand no figurative associations to get a response – from me anyway.

First, Diebenkorn, a little Ocean Park picture on paper from 1952, sky blue and terracotta, yellow and red in the geometric “frame”:

Next, Joan Mitchell, Untitled 1960, great clots of midnight and Prussian Blue shot through with red and thin white lightning strikes emanating from it:

Lastly, Guston, another “Untitled” from 1952, rusty brown, red and yellow streaks and worms, on grey, texture like a metal plate.  Couldn’t find these online, and batteries in camera dead, so will include photos next blog.

Blackpaint

Blue on Ochre Rose

16.08.12