Posts Tagged ‘Anselm Kiefer’

Blackpaint 569 – Vikings, Toby and Wifredo Lam

September 23, 2016

Oslo –  Astrup Fearnley Museum

Why was Blackpaint in Norway?  For the Oslo Marathon, of course.  Since you ask, it was hot, hilly like Helsinki last year and there are roadworks everywhere.  At one point, the route went over a cinder track through a huge building site and into and round a container park – and then back again for another interesting visit, later in the run.

Anyway, the Astrup Fearnley is a private museum on the quayside. very swish area, big sports cars around; two floors of stuff, downstairs Hirst’s bisected cow and calf under glass – made me think of Skip James’ Little Cow and Calf Blues – an Emin tapestry with words, a Rachel Whiteread, a blue Malcolm Morley poster painting, a great, smeary grey Christopher Wool, a Kitaj and a couple of Helen Martins and a Sibony as a reminder of the Venice Biennale.

Upstairs,  80’s German Expressionists, as below:

 

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Martin Kippenberger – Sick Egg Boy

 

sigmar-polke

Sigmar Polke – 3 Apparitions.  These are huge, whole wall size.  There are others by Lupertz, Eichendorff and especially Kiefer – a shelf of huge, grey leaden “books” and one of those lead plaques with little girl’s dress and shoes embedded.

 

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Knut Rose – I Kulturlandskap

 

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Bjorn Carlsen – Suicide.

Locals, I guess, from the names; I just like the colours, really.  The Carlsen strikes me as a cross between Matisse and Kitaj’s cartoon style.   Great modern building, an hour’s visit to see the lot.

Toby Young 

For some reason, a large number of (male) Oslo residents strongly resemble the Tory “free school” activist; not, perhaps, the stereotype which springs to mind when we think of the Norse Sagas…

young

Young

viking

Viking

 

Wifredo Lam, the EY Exhibition, Tate Modern

Yes, I always thought it was Wilfredo – and so it should have been, but it was misspelt when his birth was registered, it appears.

lam

I found the Lam to be a disappointment.  Very strong Picasso influence, especially Minotaur and Guernica; very colourless – where colour used to any extent, sort of all colours, as if random and pastel-y; almost an anthroposophical look, in loose, slanting strokes.  Overwhelmingly black, white, beige; spiky (like Sutherland), fork tines, wheels, swords, knives, ploughshares, small round heads/faces, physical discombobulation.  Lots of ritual figures, Santoria, Yoruba.  It livened up for me a bit when he stayed with Jorn at Albissola – I liked “The Brush” – totally uncharacteristic, spatters all over it.  A setof smaller framed works, on paper I think, figures in which recall Bruegel and Bosch.

In the first room, a couple of peasant portraits and a self portrait show what a fabulous draughstman he was.  So, influences and resemblances: Picasso overwhelmingly, Sutherland, Picabia maybe, Bruegel, Jorn…

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Yellow Runner

I know, it’s an old one.

Blackpaint

23.9.16

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Blackpaint 474 – Kiefer, Hambling and Balke: walls of mud and water

December 21, 2014

Anselm Kiefer, Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow

I watched this DVD in disbelief; every artwork, every scene – it was permeated with images that to me were about the Third Reich and yet, they seemed to him to be about other things entirely.  As the artist, I suppose his own ideas have some claim to privilege here; I’ve written about this before in relation to Kiefer and other German artists and also Balka, the Polish artist.  Their recent catastrophic history tends to colour interpretation of their work, regardless of the artist’s intention.  Here, though – his colours are mostly earth colours, mud, brown, grey, black; he has excavated tunnels and pits, underground passages like torture chambers; the pits are like graves, containing sometimes, stiffened and smeared articles of clothing; he burns books; there’s razor wire, great sheets of broken glass, wreckage; in one shot, he prods at a great fire with a long iron bar, looking just like those photos taken secretly of the sonderkommando in Auschwitz, burning bodies in 1944.

Kiefer, however, maintains that the works relate to alchemical processes and the mysteries of the universe to be read in the stars, the transmutation of materials, legends like that of Lilith – nothing relating to the camps and the holocaust.  Since he HAS dealt explicitly with these topics – notably in his pieces relating to the poems of Paul Celan – his word must be respected; interesting though, that this process of dual meaning can unfold.  Or perhaps it’s commonplace…

In the final shots of his abandoned, wobbly towers returning to “Nature”, I saw the ruins of bombed German cities.

kiefer cities

 The Missing, BBC1

In the closing episode of this serial, it seemed to me that James Nesbit was transforming into the George Clooney of “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”; when he popped up at the end in a snowbound Russian town wearing a heavy beard and staring eyes, the transformation was somehow complete – even though Clooney had no beard.

Actually, this week I’ve had this experience several times – on TOTP2 (BBC4) the other night, the Mick Jagger of the late 60s was turning into George Melly… and Kennedy on PBS was becoming FDR…

Maggi Hambling’s  Walls of Water

There are eight large paintings in the National Gallery under this title, black, white and grey with shreds and streamers of bright colour intertwined; they do indeed represent walls of water (except for one to dedicated to Amy Winehouse. that I presume represents her in some spiritual way).  I have to say that I was disappointed; the “water” didn’t look solid enough to be a wall, nor was it dark enough to be ocean.  More like exploding shower water, in fact.  Pity, because they looked impressive in the paper.

maggi hambling

See what I mean – looks great in a photo, doesn’t it?

Peder Balke

The Hambling is free, and so is the exhibition of this Norwegian painter’s work, from the 1850s; his most impressive sea- and landscapes are virtually monochrome – massive mountains looming up from sea mist, thunder black and blue skies, lonely forts on headlands, the massive blocks of the North Cape, painted from the same viewpoint in different (but not very different) weathers.  Some, like the one below, are really impressive, even allowing for the solid, rather plastic-looking rollers coming in.

Also impressive are the little pc sized ones that look like old sepia photos.  It’s when he’s got hold of some colour that everything goes to pot – the coloured ones look like bad Caspar David Friedrich, or maybe the woods in the old Rupert annuals of the 40s and 50s.

Balke

 

Messums Gallery, Cork Street

While at the Frank Phelan exhibition (see last blog), I came upon this still life by William Brooker.  Seen it before at an art fair; I think it’s brilliant, reminds me somewhat of Uglow.

Brooker

 

And finally, at the National Portrait Gallery, this painting by William Nicholson, of Max Beerbohm;

NPG 3850; Sir Max Beerbohm by Sir William Newzam Prior Nicholson

 

tromso

 Islares,

Blackpaint 21.12.14

 

Blackpaint 472 Lard, Lilith and Daybreak in Paris

December 8, 2014

Nefertiti again

Reading my Phaidon “30,000 Years of Art”, I find that the astounding head in the Berlin Neues Museum was done as a sort of template for Nefertiti heads – it wasn’t even intended as a masterpiece, but as a pattern!  The unpainted eye was on the less important side; apparently, the right profile was the important one in Egyptian culture (but what about figures “walking” towards the left?  Are they all looking behind them?).  No, of course they’re not – I just checked.

nefertiti2

 

 

The Hauptbahnhoff Museum

This is an old station, converted;  it has a vast central hall, with a series of display galleries to the left and right of the entrance and downstairs, long corridors of white walls, opening on big and small white chambers, packed with great stuff – although not really “packed”; loads of room,so well spaced out.  There is so much fantastic stuff in here that I can only mention a few pieces (why? – because otherwise I’ll be writing this for ever and I want to publish and go to bed).

First, to the left, for Beuys.  There’s the old felt suit, shoals of blackboards with his crazy lecture notes all over them, rusted iron rails attached to an iron cannon barrel with an iron man’s head poking out – iron’s wired up, something to do with iron storing electric earth energy like a battery….  But the standout exhibit is a roomful of giant blocks of “tallow” – not candle wax but lard.  It’s made from mutton fat, leavened with some beef fat to stiffen it and moulded into blocks by the contours of some underground subway on a new concrete estate. He had been invited to celebrate the completion of the estate with an appropriate work.  Some of the chunks are strapped together with bolted metal struts, some are wired up to detect heat in the centre to see if they had solidified.

No doubt, those who invited Beuys’ contribution were well pleased.

photo 1

 

Blocks of lard, Joseph Beuys 

There is a room of Warhols, giant prints of kitchen knives, flowers (green and blue), Elvis with the six-gun, and a HUGE face of Chairman Mao, surrounded by slapdash strokes of yellow paint.  There is also that horrible ambulance crash, with the dead woman hanging backwards out of the smashed window; I couldn’t see how such a crash could have happened – I wonder if it was staged in some way.  Then again, he used other shocking images that were not staged, like the woman jumping to her death from the flat…

Moving on from Mao, there are four or five big Twomblys, the usual fragments and scribbles, looking indefinably great somehow and three fabulous Rauschenbergs (see below).

photo 1 (1)

 

photo 2 (2)

photo 2

Just a little bit like Karel Appel, I think.

Now Kiefer.

Three things: a parody of a wedding dress, on a stand, penetrated with great shards of broken glass, like that of a reinforced window; a huge, black, wooden plaque, scarred and scored, with cartoonish portraits of great figures of German and world history (I think Bismarck and Einstein both there).  Finally, on end wall, “Lilith” – a long plaque of grey lead, with big, loose lead rolls and sheets attached; in the centre, a number of little girls’ dresses. half-painted over and stuck on.  There is a blurb on the wall about Lilith, Adam’s first wife in the Kabbala and the legend – but anyone can see it’s about the camps, whatever Kiefer might say; in that respect, he’s a prisoner of German history.

photo 1 (2)

 

Lilith, Anselm  Kiefer 

Of the rest, Katharina Grosse reminded me a little of Kiefer in the use of two felled trees for her exhibit; he goes in for using entire felled trees on occasion.  As can be seen below, however, Grosse uses distinctly unKiefer-like spray colours on her trees; Anselm sticks to silver and gold, browns, black, greys and white, pretty much.

photo 2 (1)

 

Le Jour se Leve, Marcel Carne, 1939

At last out on DVD, the great Jean Gabin, on his push-bike, with that slouchy flat cap and the ribbed sweater; working class hero, holed up in his attic room, chain smoking, besieged by the flics, awaiting daybreak and the inevitable.  I was astounded to see a brief – but not that brief – shot of Arletty totally starkers; a surprise to say the least, seeing as it was made in 1938 or 9.  It mirrors the fall of the Popular Front, according to the commentary on the DVD.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan

I’m only about half way through, but I’m seriously wondering how this won the Booker Prize.  Apart from the laughable and well-publicised sex scenes  and the interminable, slushy affair that bogs down the first half, there’s a bit of a problem with the camp scenes; he’s inclined to do that Gallipoli thing where they ‘re all larrikins, ex-shearers, roo hunters, prospectors… He actually says at one point that they have arrived in the prison camp from the 19th century.  He seemed like a nice bloke on the telly, though, and there is the fact that his father was a POW of the Japanese and died before it was published.  Maybe the judges have been softened up by all the WWI stuff.  Or maybe they haven’t read any of those red-spined Corgi war paperbacks from the 50s and 60s, RH Whitecross’s “Slaves of the Son of Heaven”, for example.

 

photo

 WIP,

Blackpaint

08.12.14

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 418 – Whiteley, Schendel, Shining and Drowning

October 24, 2013

Brett Whiteley

I’d hardly heard of the above Australian artist until I saw “Art of Australia” this week.  What a brilliant painter he was  (died of an overdose in 1993); earlier stuff looked like Diebenkorn a bit – later, shades of Roger Hilton, Bacon and, I think, Scarfe and/or Steadman.  He mixed abstract, figurative, letters, techniques in a manner reminiscent of Albert Oelhen (but before Oelhen?).  Fantastic.

brett whiteley

Mark Bradford and Larry Bell at the White Cube Bermondsey

Bradford does huge canvases – I estimate the largest are 20ft * 18ft (dimensions not given and attendant didn’t know).  He plasters them with paper, paints it and then rips and shreds it down with a power sander.   The results resemble road systems and landscapes – one is like a coastline, another a tsunami investing a coastal city, another, Turner’s “storm at Harbour Mouth” (the sander swirls on black are like the rings on the cross section of a felled tree).  Some are bright – blue, pink, orange, white – reminding one of Peter Doig’s early paintings; others, dark and oppressive, like Anselm Kiefer’s work.

There are two beautiful Larry Bell pictures; they are like crumpled tinfoil and celluloid film, printed onto white canvas.  there are many more, but for my money, they are spoilt by being on black canvas and in black frames.

Blue Jasmine

Saw this Woody Allen film this week – it’s Streetcar, set in San Francisco rather than New Orleans.  Cate Blanchett does a great job of playing a neurotic, pampered, addicted, desperate woman, once rich, now broke, dumping herself on her despised working-class sister.  Script is great, but you never for a second forget you are watching acting; it’s naturalistic, rather than natural.  I can’t help comparing it to the fabulous Joanna Hogg films, Archipelago and Unrelated, that I’ve written about – in which, most of the time, no-one, pro or amateur, appears to be acting at all.

Reading Sebastian Faulks’ A Possible Life, which begins with a WW2 training exercise; officers lead their men mistakenly into flooded area and a soldier is drowned.  Strangely similar stories from two sources; Pete Seeger’s song “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” (I have it by Dick Gaughan on his “Sail On” album) and a Scott Fitzgerald story I read recently – can’t find it at the moment, he wrote so many stories.  The SF version is the earliest – I wonder if it’s the original.

The Shining

Watched it yet again the other night; like Goodfellas and Casino, you only have to see a few seconds and you are hooked – these films are Ancient Mariners.  I can’t understand why Stephen King hates the Kubrick film – it’s obviously a work of art, unlike most attempts at filming King books.  Kubrick changed it a bit – killed off the Scatman and left the Overlook standing, whereas King blew its boilers and burned it down.  I think Kubrick’s ending was better.  Pity about the Scatman, though.

Klee at Tate Modern

Went round this exhibition again, and, yes, I was rather snotty about it last time.  Room 13 is great, with the ones that are composed of dots and look like little tapestries – also the blue one, “path into the Blue” I think it’s called.  There’s also the miniature opera stage set that reminded me of Picasso’s “Night Fishing at Antibes” – but much smaller.

Mira Schendel

Great antidote to Klee – Brazilian minimalist, recalling Lygia Pape and Oiticica a little; wobbly square…  Triangles, bi-and trisected canvases; then, rough paint drawings and collages of bottles on bars, drips and splatters; some brilliant black ink on off-white paper, strong lines and jagged scribbles.  Then letters appearing and playing with typefaces; hanging tablets of rice paper; Eva Hesse-like tubes of gold-ochre, suspended from ceiling; silky, white nylon threads hanging in masses and curling up like hairs at the floor; a series of rough, eye-catching tablets on walls with bible quotations – she was a struggling Catholic, apparently.

schendel1

schendel2

Also visited “Art Under Attack” at Tate Britain; save that for next time.

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Work in Progress

Blackpaint

24.10.13

Blackpaint 362 – Squirrel Suicide and Beuys Hanging at the Whitechapel

October 10, 2012

Whitechapel Gallery

Giuseppe Penone – Giant “felled” tree, in bronze,  cut into sections and hollowed so that you can look right through it – almost; there’s a curve at one end.  The branches are naked and lopped, like the upright real trees by the same artist  in the Arte Povera bit of the Tate Modern.  But as well as being made of bronze, this one is lined with crinkly gold stuff.  So – it’s like a Bond Street version of an Anselm Kiefer, or a Damien dry run before he thought of the skull.

Maurizio Catellan

There’s a small exhibition by this artist, famous for the pope felled by a meteorite in the Sensations exhibition and for the horse halfway to the ceiling with its head stuck into the wall.  This is show is small in both senses; the famous squirrel suicide (sprawled across a table, tiny gun on floor, empty glass, possibly poison) is on the floor against the wall.  it’s tiny but then of course it is – it’s squirrel-sized.  For some reason, I was surprised;  I expected a giant squirrel.

A small man in a grey felt suit hangs by the collar from a peg on an upright trolley; slick black hair, prominent, curved nose.  I saw the felt suit and thought, “Beuys” – but unfortunately, didn’t say it to my friend.  A moment later, I read the wall blurb and it identified the suit as a reference to Beuys.  Cursed the missed opportunity to make an informed comment in a loud voice within earshot of the attendant.

A huge industrial rubble bag filled with bricks and – rubble.  Apparently, from an art gallery in Sicily bombed by the Mafia.

A large circular rug on the floor, made from the design of the label on a box of Bel Paese cheese. And that’s about it, apart from a couple of unremarkable neons.  The squirrel scenario and the hanging Beuys I liked – the cheese rug reminded me of Boetti and the maps.

Eyes Wide Shut

Watched this mildly erotic Kubrick film over several evenings, 40 minutes a hit (it’s pretty long) and was surprised it was good – I remember it being widely slated on release.  What was really striking, however, was the dialogue between Cruise and Kidman in the grass smoking scene – they both, but particularly Cruise, seem to be channeling Jack Nicholson in “the Shining”.  That thing where Nicholson, as Torrance, repeats the last thing that Shelley Duval has said in that mocking, disbelieving way – Cruise does it several times.  “The Shining” was, of course, a Kubrick film so presumably it’s the direction.  The lighting, too, at the first party, reminded me of the bar scene with Delbert Grady; very intense on the faces, enhancing the shadows and highlights.

Freedom of Expression

Having signed petitions about Pussy Riot and others banged up abroad, I was alarmed to see jail and community service sentences being handed out in the UK for posting stuff on the net that was “grossly offensive”; not life-threatening, or part of a campaign of harrassment, but grossly offensive.  How do we criticise other countries and protest about free speech issues when we start locking people up for saying or writing offensive things?  The youth who posted the “joke” about the missing girl deserves our censure and disapproval but if you start jailing people for that, you are faced with the problem of definition – who decides what’s offensive, and to whom?  The answer is the judges,of course – and we all agree with them…

 

Servan

Figure Collage

Blackpaint

10/10/12

Blackpaint 262

March 21, 2011

Anselm Kiefer

In Saturday’s Guardian, a pleasing quotation from Kiefer regarding “Salz, Merkur, Sulfur”,  a recent work: “..the salt-covered U boat is my Noah’s ark as the Flood was important to alchemists,…It is made out of the base metal lead; there are seven flames because seven is the alchemical number of perfection, and so on.  It all means something.  Not that anyone needs to know this, but if I’m asked I will tell you.” Well, thank goodness for that – the implication is that the work stands, for Kiefer, on the merits of its visual power alone, without the need to read a lengthy exposition on a gallery wall (or stand in everyone else’s way, gawping, while you listen to the explanation on one of those those audios).

Kiefer is the embodiment of those artists who build a career around a big idea; the core of his has been the exhumation of German history from under  layers of guilt and willful amnesia in the decades after WW2 – a worthy and courageous work in the 60s especially.  So someone asks, “What is this work about?”  No problem; he knows –  and, if he’s asked, he’ll be able to tell you.

Miro

Miro is another one.  As Tim Adams says, in Sunday’s Observer, “He had no interest in pure abstraction…”You get freedom by sweating for it,” he believed, “by an inner struggle…”.  Whatever this second part means, Adams’ piece quotes Miro to the effect that his pictures, even the most surreal, were made up of collections of symbols representing things in the real world: “I’ve shown the Toulouse-Rabat airplane on the left; …I showed it by a propellor, a ladder and the French and Catalan flags”.  The whole display of bacteria-like shapes and squiggles swimming in an orange and yellow background “means something”; everything is representative.

I’ve always loved Miro’s work, for its colour, movement, humour – and Kiefer’s, for almost completely opposite qualities, darkness, weight, gravity of purpose. I had no idea about the Toulouse – Rabat airplane and not much specific about alchemy; but the lack of detailed information didn’t stop me liking the work and knowing more hasn’t enhanced my appreciation.

I think it’s enough to say “It’s about itself”.  Paintings that are only about visual things like image, structure, texture, colour, movement, balance – pure abstraction –  are as valid as the “hidden meaning” efforts; and you don’t have to read the spurious Artspeak expositions.

Some early paintings that I think are stunning – and no problems with meaning:

Fra Angelico

St Nicholas of Bari (1437) – look at the castle and the pink mountain with the folds.

The Mocking of Christ (1441) – disembodied head spits in Christ’s face.

Giotto

The Stefaneschi Altar, the Martyrdom of Paul – yes, the decapitated head does still wear the halo; and the Martyrdom of Peter – upside down on his cross, as if diving, an angel reading the bible to the assembled watchers, from the sky.

The Arrest of Christ, Padua. – the Judas kiss, Judas enveloping Christ in that yellow cloak.

The Master of Flemalle (Robert Campin?)

The Annunciation, Merode Altarpiece – look at the folds in the fabric of both the angel’s and Mary’s gowns; and the tilting forwards of the table – like a Bonnard or Cezanne a few years later.

Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources

Finally got round to seeing these after meaning to for years; Yves Montand (I remember him in “Z”) and Daniel Auteuil, as the Soubeyrans -great, tragi-comic pairing. For some reason, keep watching films about peasants – Provencal, Iranian and Ozark hill folk so far.

Blackpaint

21.03.11

Blackpaint 247

January 30, 2011

Gabriel Orozco at the Tate Modern

One of the main exhibits at this show is a stone(? actually plasticene, the booklet says) ball that Orozco rolled around Monterrey, and then New York – an act reminiscent of Francis Alys and his melting block of ice (Blackpaint 180).  Different point, of course; ball was to pick up impressions, not to disappear in a demonstration/celebration of futility.  Close though, trundling objects round the streets.  The connection goes further;  Mexico City is where Alys lived.  Who had the idea first, I wonder.

The booklet that goes with the exhibition, like the Alys, is great; pretty much everything listed with a brief explanation.  The trouble is, you end up having everything explained to you and you don’t think about what you see.  Martin Creed is right – you should go round, look at it all without reading anything (unless there are words on the art itself) and then, maybe, read the booklet and the wall plaques and labels.  Then again, see the stuff above about the plasticene ball; wouldn’t have known that, without the booklet. 

So, what’s in the exhibition?

Some lovely small oil works on paper – blotty, a bit Nogueira, bit Tillmans..

The squashed-in Citroen (actually middle chopped out and resealed).

Four bikes, screwed together in improbable ways to make a sculpture.

Lots of – too many – photos of two yellow motor bikes, like little friends, parked in different locations.

Inner tubes inflated to huge balls.

A whole room of shredded tyre fragments, laid out, alligned on the floor.  Kieferish.

“Lintels” – shreds like flags, strung on wires across the room, assembled from the fluff collected in industrial cleaning machines.  When this, according to the booklet, was first exhibited in NY in November 2001, “the ash-coloured lint took on a poignant significance”.  I thought of Beuys – a bit.

A billiard table with no pockets, and a red ball suspended and swinging in an arc across.  Children were playing , trying to get the red ball as it swung.

“Samurai tree” paintings, on wooden blocks; highly coloured spheres and half spheres, connected like some table construction game.

The chequered skull, of course.

Ripples in lines of print on long, Chinese scrolls that turn out to be tiny numbers assembled from phone books.  A huge amount of fiddly work – symptomatic, really.

I felt that, with some exceptions, the show consisted of knick-knacks; contrivances to make you smile wryly, or exclaim gently, like something in Covent Garden on a Sunday afternoon.  The skull is beautiful – skulls are – and so is the way the chessboard pattern is stretched in the eye sockets, for instance, like netting – but none of it really says much to me, unlike the Francis Alys.  I would compare it to Anish Kapoor’s show at the Guggenheim – high quality fun objects, to make you smile, but not laugh or frown.  I couldn’t see a dark side to it at all (the September 11th suggestion in the booklet didn’t persuade me).   

all that said, the small oils were beautiful and there were two intriguing photographs; “Plastic Bag with Water”, I think, Prunella Clough – type image, and “Simon’s Island” – I can’t make out if it is an egg in close-up or someone’s – presumably Simon’s – globular belly, rising from the bath water.

Varda Caivano

Argentinian abstract painter, looks more my sort of thing; at the Victoria Miro Gallery to 12th March.

Blackpaint

30.01.11

Blackpaint 182

August 25, 2010

Louisiana again

Just a few more artists to mention from this catalogue (see yesterday’s blog):

Rauschenberg

Two great pictures with those downpours or waterfall effects he has in blacks or greys, over the composite pictures he transfers to canvas from photographs – one called “Tideline”, the other “Untitled” (the 1st Apollo Landing), which is odd in itself.

Niki de Saint Phalle 

A tall, narrow colourful panel called “Drame de Coup de Feu” – what’s that, “drama of the fire strike”?  Sorry, schoolboy French inadequate.  Take a look at the picture, anyway.

Anselm Kiefer

Several typical huge, ominous works by Kiefer; best are “Ausgiessung”, dark grey, white, green, like a field of corn stalks below a louring, scratchy sky with a big black, dripping blob low and dead centre over it.  Looks like a grey, cone-shaped trumpet set in the “earth” below it.

“Saulen”, browns, blacks, whites, greys; a scratchy, splintered surface; the facade of a ruined brick building beneath a grey-black sky – impossible not to think of the fall of Berlin.

Per Kirkeby

a whole bunch of beautiful works from this painter, with his patches, lines and slurs of bright reds, greens, blues on black or brown or grey.

Arnulf Rainer

A series of “deathmasks” and “blind und Stumm”, recalling Marlene Dumas, somewhat.

Etc.

Picasso, Bacon, Warhol, Morris Louis, Tapies, some great Sam Francis, Jim Dine……

And

Sculpture.  Giacometti (loads, including that striding thin man), Miro, Arp, Ernst, Calder, Caro, Moore…..

Red

In that film “Painters Painting”, there are some really intense red paintings by Rauschenberg.  They look like caves of red.  He says on the soundtrack “There’s a lot of black in red”; I didn’t understand at first, but now I see it’s a dark colour, even (especially) when its glaring at you like a furnace.  Maybe the black is in your eyes or brain; or is that stupid to say, because all colour is in your eyes and brain…?

Poor Tom

Blackpaint

25.08.10

Blackpaint 169

July 20, 2010

Gillian Ayres

I compared one of my paintings to an Ayres picture called “Hinba” the other day; quite wrong.  Her surface positively seethes, mine is inert – Andrews Liver Salts compared to still water. 

Kiefer, Jorn etc.

The thing about German and Scandinavian artists like the above is that they have that “dark” mythology to fall back on.  It was a brilliant idea (whoever had it first) to start mining this sort of stuff for pictures – you can have, for example, childlike figures in bright colours and amusing shapes looming out of foggy, gloomy backgrounds, great  flares and swirls of colour making ghosts and maelstroms, erupting insect figures… a great combination of innocence and menace, hidden depths and all that.  I’m thinking of pictures like Kiefer’s “Song of the Wayland” and the Jorn “Out of the Silent Myth” series.

Not a path really open to an English artist; plenty of history, of course, but all a bit pageanty, kings and queens, not much in the way of mythology.  Stonehenge, of course, Robin Hood, Hereward the Wake, King Arthur…..   OK, that’s it, I’m going to do an abstract mythological series based on England – Druids, Blake, satanic mills, soldiers of the Empire slogging through Burmese jungles behind giant moustaches, and its all going to be abstract.

Oil Surfaces

Fairly encouraged by the early results with oils; the thickness and richness as it is forced out out of the tube, the way it slides about on the canvas and stays slimy – a bit disgusting really, like a snail trail or something more obscene…

For oil surfaces, it has to be Christopher Wool, with his black and grey sweeps, or Bram Van Velde (the slidy triangles), or see Raimunde Girke’s “Contrast” 1992, in Taschen Art of the 20th Century – or Jasper Johns’ paintings, or de Kooning, of course.

Corneille and Eva Hesse

Latest pair arriving at same point at same time (moving apart later, but similarities startling in early 60’s);  abstract land- or city scapes with knots of multi coloured blocks like warehouses, tied together with faux rail lines, coiling around humps and ditches.  See “The Big Red Sun’s Voyage” 63 or “On the Outskirts of the Big City” 60, both by Corneille and Eva Hesse’s two “No titles” (annoying!), done in 1963 and in “Action Painting – Jackson Pollock”, Hatje Cantz, 2008.

Alice Neel

At the Whitechapel Gallery.  Saw it today, lots to say, so will review tomorrow.  However, I was most impressed by an installation of Maria Abramovic elsewhere  in the gallery.  Five TV screens piled on top of each other,  in each one part of the process of washing and scrubbing a skeleton clean.  At the top the jaws and teeth, at  the bottom the toe bones.  Greyish, soapy water sluicing down, a woman’s hands scooping and scrubbing inside the ribcage, beteen the finger and toe bones, the coccyx (or was it the end of the sternum?)…  I could feel the fingers on my own bones and had to be called away by my partner.  Rather worrying, really.

First Oil, Blackpaint

listening to Death Valley Blues by Big Joe Williams

“I went down in Death Valley, Weren’t nothing but tombstones and dry bones…

Blackpaint

20.07.10