Posts Tagged ‘Appel’

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 585 – Vegetable Heaven, Miro at Montjuic, Bacon in Soho

February 3, 2017

still-life-with-orange

Still Life with Sharon Fruit

Blackpaint

 

Barcelona – probably worth two blogs, although only there three days; we’ll see how it goes.

Sagrada Familia

Gaudi’s famous perpetually developing cathedral/folly – first visible from the south-west by two of its towers peering like Triffids over the surrounding roofs.  In some ways, it’s a rather vegetable experience, both inside and out.  The towers (seven, I think) are grey cucumbers; the columns inside are like giant sticks of celery.  Some way up, they swell into diving helmet bulges, with lights behind glass windows (see below); from these bulges, the branches fork upwards, ending in thorn-like fingers slayed against the ceiling, reminiscent of Graham Sutherland’s paintings.

sagrada-1

 

sagrada-2

Over the main entrance, Christ appears to be about to launch himself from the high board.  Other scenes from the crucifixion below the cross; the sad man,  Christ dragging the cross, the mourners…

 

sagrada-celery

Giant celery and diving helmets

The stained glass inside is a stunning spectacle, washing the interior in piercing blues, reds, greens and gold.  I thought it was all abstract, but you can detect figures in some of the designs, and there are one or two constellations.  There is another crucifixion inside, with Christ hanging with bent knees and an Art Nouveau canopy which would look OK in a French period pub.

Outside again, to the other doorways, which are thickly encrusted in decorative carving and studded with statuary depicting other biblical scenes; the Massacre of the Innocents, the Flight into Egypt et al.  Also worth a mention is the Ascension of Christ, the figure perched on the bridge between two of the “Passion Towers” outside.  See my sketch (rough – but not bad from about 80 feet below):

ascension

 

Miro Museum

Spectacular Bauhaus – type white building, in a spectacular setting, up Montjuic, the hill overlooking Barcelona. The chap below was on the door.  Beautiful dark green bluff behind building, cedars, poplars…

miro-man

 

The permanent exhibition covers much the same ground as the huge Miro exhibition in London from a few years back (see Blackpaint 222 and 262): the early farms and village squares that could be anyone; the blue, green and brown backgrounds with spidery line drawings; then into the familiar Miro territory of biomorphic shapes and blazing primary colour (my two favourites below);

 

miro1

miro2

The huge plain canvases with the wandering line, protesting the imprisonment and execution by garotte of the Anarchist in 1974; the black fireworks; the burnt canvases.

The large sculptures below brought home to me the similarities between Miro and Karel Appel.  Since Miro was earlier, the influence must have been his on the Dutchman.  The bird things, the staring eyes and bared teeth of the figures, the primary colours, the painting onto wood, the highly coloured shapes and like carnival figures on floats – the two artists share all these things.

The difference between the two – Appel’s extreme “painterliness” (I saw an Appel in St. Ives on which the paint must have been two and a half inches thick) while Miro’s surfaces are mostly smooth.  He famously said he wanted to “assassinate painting”.

 

miro3

Miro

 

appel flute2

Appel (figures for The Magic Flute, CoBrA Museum, Amsterdam)

More on Barcelona – Picasso, MACBA -next blog.

Love is the Devil (John Mayberry, 1998)

Watched this again the other night after the BBC documentary on Bacon, which revealed that George Dyer’s death on a French hotel toilet  before Bacon’s Paris exhibition was concealed for two days by Bacon and several of his entourage, to avoid spoiling the grand opening.

Derek Jacobi is astounding as Bacon – Bacon’s chin was more pointed, otherwise he was perfect.  And so was Daniel Craig as Dyer; he’s wasted as Bond. Fantastic (imaginary) shots of Craig, bloody, flayed, tumbling forward as from a diving board.

little-ice-fall

Little Ice Fall

Blackpaint

3.2.17

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 544 – Still Life, Bare Life, Sokurov and CoBrA

May 7, 2016

Still Life

I’ve decided to abandon my usual practice of putting my own paintings at the end of the blog and to stick them at the beginning instead – just in case the reader gets fed up and goes elsewhere online before reaching my pictures.

still life

Still Life with Pomegranates – yes, I know, not the usual so I made some changes…

still life with pomegranate new

Still Life with Pomegranate – now that’s more like it!

 

“Bare Life” Catalogue (Hirmer)

In an  essay by Colin Wiggins, a similarity is identified between Freud’s “Big Man” and the Ingres portrait of Madame Moitessier – they are both below.  It’s the pose.

Ingres Moitessier

Ingres, Portrait of Madame Moitessier – he was eleven years painting this…

 

Freud big man

Lucian Freud, The Big Man

Hmm – and between Degas and Bacon (spine):

degas after the bath 2

Degas, After the Bath

Bacon three figures and a portrait

Bacon, Three Figures and a Portrait 

Well, yes, but marginal similarity at most. However, Wiggins is suggesting only a marginal, perhaps even subliminal influence, so fair enough.

The Sun, (dir Alexander Sokurov, 2004)

Described as a “companion piece to Downfall” on the DVD cover, this is a mesmerising portrait of Hirohito, an impotent god imprisoned by his destiny in his bunker, as WWII grinds to an end, with the destruction of Tokyo by Flying Fortresses and the cities destroyed by the atomic bombs.  There is a dream sequence in which the American bombers soar over Japan in the form of fire-breathing, flying fish.  But so far (I still have some to go), it seems unlike all the other Sokurovs I’ve seen – can’t quite put my finger on it…

The-Sun-Alexandr-Sokurov

 

downfall2

Having mentioned “Downfall”, I felt it was an opportunity to include my favourite German helmet shot from the film.  Traudl tries to blend in with the Wehrmacht and somehow manages to filter through the Russian troops…

CoBrA Museum, Amstelveen, Netherlands

This great museum is in the suburbs of Amsterdam, in a nondescript housing and shopping precinct that reminded me of Swanley in Kent (also Swindon, and no doubt many other towns which may or may not begin with “Sw”); I only wish Swanley had such a collection.

The thousands of regular readers of this blog will be familiar with CoBrA (Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam, the home cities of the founders of the group) and its leading painters; Asger Jorn, and Karel Appel.  Here are works by them and some of the lesser-known artists of the group:

cobra1

Yellow Ochre Moon, Eugene Brands

 

cobra2

Village Scene, Lucebert (1962)

 

cobra3

Falling Sun, Carl-Henning Pedersen (1951)

 

cobra6

Red Mask, Egell Jacobsen

cobra7

Two Birds, Karel Appel

 

cobra8

The Fake Laugh (Tragi-Comic Image), Asger Jorn

 

cobra9

The Intermediate Reserve, Jorn

 

cobra10

The Spectators and the Assassin from Lurs, Jorn

 

cobra11

Harlequin, Jan Nieuwenhuijs

One important idea held by the group was the quite common notion that children see the world in a superior way to adults, who are jaded and corrupted and curbed by experience and socialisation; in childhood, there is some kind of direct access to the essence, which dissipates as we grow.  So, back to painting like the kids – a hopeless task, of course, but I think it produced a certain freshness and originality in their work.

See also recent blog with Appel stage settings and costumes from The Magic Flute and Noah, also at the CoBrA museum.

Blackpaint

7.5.16

 

Blackpaint 444 – Matisse, Soutine, UKIP and Exhibitionism at the ICA

May 2, 2014

Matisse Cut outs, Tate Modern

Brilliant colours, some fantastic images – but occasional hints of custom wallpaper and, for ex – art teachers (my partner tells me), the memory of those lessons when you would grab a wad of coloured paper from the cupboard and get the kids to cut out Matisse-like patterns and images and collage them.  The highlights, for me, are:

Memory of Oceania

oceania

 

Zulma

matisse zulma

 

Blue Nude

matisse blue nude

 

The top two are very large; Oceania smaller than the Snail, but not by much, I think.  The blue nude is one of three or four, slightly different – I like this one best.  It sounds odd, but the charcoal or pencil marks on Oceania make a big difference for me; don’t quite know why.  Maybe they add interest, add a bit of roughness – same for Zulma.  I  loved the stained-glass window “sketches” too.  Perhaps it’s because the whole exhibition is too brilliantly coloured and light-suffused.  There’s plenty of black, but it’s brilliant black, not dirty, grey/brown black.  That’s it – dirt.  I want a bit of dirty texture in among the bright colours; de Kooning or Jorn or Appel.  Pity there were no paintings – but then it wouldn’t be “the cut-outs”…  Still, great exhibition.

Cezanne et al at the Ashmolean Museum Oxford, 

I wrote in  last blog about the “Cezanne and the Modern” at the Ashmolean, but forgot to include some of the great Soutine paintings that were in it – so here are a few:

soutine 2

soutine selfie

soutine1

 

I think he’s a stunningly good painter; only really knew him for the sides of meat before.  Why isn’t there a Taschen on him?  Next blog, the Ashmolean permanent collection, which is also great.

Exhibition, Joanna Hogg

Saw this on Sunday, and I have so much to say that I’m leaving it to next blog too.  Unlike Unrelated and Archipelago, it focuses on a couple, rather than a family and friends;  it’s set indoors mostly and these two factors make it rather claustrophobic to watch; might be more comfortable to watch on DVD.  Still very highly recommended  though.  Be prepared for a lot of masturbation (on the screen, that is).

Orwell, Fascism and Racism

There was a wonderful example of the sort of political writing that Orwell ridiculed in the Guardian on Monday; Owen Jones, attacking UKIP, referred to its supporters “vomiting” racist remarks, and to the one who attacked Lenny Henry, as “dragging his knuckles”; this stuff is clearly not working, if it’s meant to hurt UKIP. During the Spanish Civil War, Orwell and his fellow fighters in the POUM were attacked as Fascists by the Communist movement and fellow travellers of the day – first, they were “objectively Fascist” (i.e. unconsciously supporting Franco by differing from the proper Communist position) – that soon slid over into really Fascist (secretly in the pay of Franco).

UKIP is not the POUM and Farage is definitely not Orwell; UKIP clearly attracts a lot of support from people with racist views; however, there’s no reason to think most of its supporters are racist. For years, any misgivings about immigration, positive discrimination or “positive action” for example, have been attacked as racist by campaigners.  All the mainstream parties have recently claimed to want an “open debate” about immigration; now that UKIP is attracting a lot of support, they want a cross-party campaign to freeze it out and undermine its support by labelling it racist.  Not many people want to be called  racist, or identified with fascists and Nazis, so the accusation has been powerful in the past (interesting to see the ethnic Russian militants in eastern Ukraine using it against the  government and its supporters); now,though,  concern in the UK about border control and numbers appears to be growing among earlier generations of non-white immigrants as well as the white population, so that might be sticky for any anti-UKIP cross-party coalition.

There’s no doubt that there is a strong swing to the right in parts of western (and eastern) Europe; if there is a danger to liberal democracy, it is obviously from the extreme right and not the left.  In the UK, however, simply shouting Racist! at UKIP and abhorring the indiscretions of their supporters won’t be enough; even the Guardian seems to have “clocked” that.

??????????

 

Fall From Grace

Blackpaint

2.05.14

Blackpaint 366 – Darkness on the Danube, Bovary on the Steppe

November 8, 2012

Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest

Magnificent, gloomy galleries, on a dark afternoon above the Danube.  Best 19th century painters on show were Mihaly Muncacsy – dark, atmospheric, romantic compositions in a realist style, for example the condemned man’s last night (or similar title) below: 

and Laszlo Paal; some beautiful woodland scenes, reminiscent of Russian woodscapes of same period:

Other painters of note were Ferenczi, Durkovits and my favourite, the quirky Farkas.

Walk by the Water, Istvan Farkas

I love the woman’s blue face.  The rest of the 19th and 20th century stuff on display was mediocre, derivative and disappointing.  Some vast, panoramic battle scenes, princes in winged helmets, Turks and Magyars tumbling, bloody, into rivers from bridges…

The mediaeval galleries, however, were full of beautiful paintings, reminding me of Germans, Lochner maybe; martyrs with attributes (Stephen with his stones), Christ crucified, crown of thorns, whipping, saints beheaded – noticeable was the extraordinarily long, thin, tapering fingers of the virgins, saints and martyrs.  Is this a characteristic of Hungarian art of the period, or maybe it is the work of one particular artist or school?

MALBA (Museum of Latin American Art, Buenos Aires)

Lurching across Europe and the Atlantic to Argentina now.  My son brought me back the guide to the Malba collection and I was immediately struck by pages 90 – 93, that display three paintings by different Argentinian artists from the year 1963.  they are:

Romulo Maccio, “That Crazy Brother of Theo”, Ernesto Deira, “the Awards” and Jorge de la Vega, “Try Again”.

Deira

Jorge de la Vega

What strikes me about them, apart from the fact that they are great, is the resemblance to the paintings of the CoBrA group, particularly Jorn and Appel.  Google the images of all three Argentine painters and be delighted, as I was.

Save and Protect, Sokurov

This is Sokurov’s version of Madame Bovary, just out on Artificial Eye in a box set of three Sokurov films.   It’s painterly, fly- and featherblown, and full of naked sex, in the grass on the steppe, on a plush bench in a railway carriage and at least once, in a bed.  Cecile Zervudacki looks like an older Katrin Cartlidge (Mike Leigh and von Trier actress, died in 2002) and her youngest lover, a little like Di Caprio.  At one point, she emerges from a church in 19th century dress and youngest lover follows her out in a 1960s style raincoat; a big black saloon drives by;  thereafter, we revert to 19th century again.  It’s a stork moment; maybe I get too obsessed with these surreal flashes – but why?  to emphasise the timelessness of the story?  Bunuel’s “Milky Way” comes to mind.

Anyway, it’s great visually and horrific, like the book; the print is really scratchy though.

Couldn’t believe the fawning nature of the accompanying “documentary” on Rostropovich and his opera singer wife, Galina.  I’ve never seen anything so sycophantic; “the Maestro” this and that… halfway through, there is a list of the medals he has been awarded.  I wonder if the Rostropoviches would have enjoyed “Save and Protect”.

I thought “Andriassy” (see last blog) was too congested, so I’ve retouched it as below.

Blackpaint

Andriassy

8.11.12

Blackpaint 340 – Dustmen, Chlorine and Gerhard’s Enormous Squeegee

May 3, 2012

Orchestra Rehearsal, Fellini

Is this film just reactionary?  Takes me back to my student days in the early 70s (chanting slogans, sitting in, exaggeration, graffiti, posters, charismatic, long-haired, moustachioed student leaders speechifying in apocalyptic terms, gazing into the socialist future with shining eyes, seeing themselves as Leon, or Che, or Makhno,  sitting in….  sorry, back to the film.

There are gibes at the unions’ demands on  demarcation and tea breaks and Fellini clearly identifies with the maestro, who is scorned and abused.  The old caretaker, however, reminisces to the audience about the good old days, in which the maestro’s word was law and the musicians would accept physical punishment for playing a bum note or coming in late – sounds like fascism to me and Fellini steers clear of wishing for that, I think.

At the height of the “anarchy”, a wrecking ball comes through the wall (representing what?  The philistinism of  contemporary culture?  Television?); it kills the harpist and the musicians “come to their senses” – like good pupils, they submit their individual wills to the maestro and proceed to make music together, sheltering in their common pursuit from the external enemy – but the maestro’s angry rebukes soon begin once more…

Paintings that Smell

Not literally, of course – Stanley Spencer’s “The Lovers” comes to mind first; the dustmen, worshipped by the housecoated women, the rubbish – old cabbage leaves, tea leaves, tea pots – the picture smells of Jeyes’ Fluid to me, disinfectant with decay underneath, and a suspicion of armpits.  Maybe it’s because I used to be a dustman for a short time, many years ago, before black plastic bins and bags.  The maggots and seafood restaurants were the worst – and that cold trickle of liquid down the back of your neck as you hoisted the tin bin onto your shoulder; what was it – rose water, maybe? Probably not.

Secondly, Hockney’s “Bigger Splash”; chlorine, of course.

De Kooning Retrospective, Thames and Hudson

Fabulous paintings, but something of a tedious text, which seems overconcerned with delving into the crowded abstracts and retrieving identifiable bits and pieces of images – door, ladder, mouth, teeth, penis, vagina, window, chair…  This approach soon palls and threatens to undermine the magic of works like Gansevoort Street, Easter Monday, Interchange and the rest.  Pictures are mouth-watering, though.

Tate Modern

That corner in the surrealism bit is where I go now – Appel yellow wooden plaque next to Motherwell’s Ulysses; swing right to Joan Mitchell’s huge grey painting and further right to the Dorothea Tanning…  BUT still missing my Franz Kline black bridgehead with the two Asger Jorns facing it; Proud, Timid One and Letter to my Son – I want them back as soon as Damien Hirst is over.

Gerhard Richter

I watched the new DVD on Richter last night and was fascinated to see him dragging his enormous wooden squeegee down and/or across the painted surfaces of his canvases, blending, covering or scraping off the pigment.  Several times when he did it, I thought “Great!  Now leave it!”  But he didn’t – he dragged it again and wiped the image out.  The film left me with the impression that it’s really difficult to paint with someone pointing a camera at you while you do it.  Richter said as much, politely; he talked about painting being a secret (private) activity.

That squeegee is a bit of a WMD, really; he uses a big brush to modify after it has passed over – but I would have thought he’d be moving on soon as regards technique, if he hasn’t already.

Work in progress (note Baselitz influence)

Blackpaint

2.05.12

Blackpaint 267

April 15, 2011

Hans Hofmann

Yes, one “f”, two “ns” – I think I’ve been mis-spelling it for a year or so; maybe not.  Anyway, I’ve bought a stunning book about works he did in 1950, a pivotal year for him.  He wrote an essay or article entitled “When I start to paint..”, which is worth quoting from, I think:

  • When I start to paint, I want to forget all I know about painting.
  • What I would hate most is to repeat myself…
  • As a painter, I deny any rule, any method and any theory.

Because Hofmann is famous for his influence as a (highly theoretical) teacher and the development of his famous “push-pull” praxis, these are perhaps surprising statements – but they are not contradictory, since he also says “(While painting) I take for granted that my knowledge has become second nature”.  The paintings are great, swirling patterns of bright colour, in combinations you would think would hurt your eyes, yet highly structured and textured; the text describes their surfaces as open and breathing.  They are like the paintings of Appel and Jorn in this respect.

The real beauty, however, is in the close-up detail extracts.  It’s only £23.00 odd; “Hans Hofmann, circa 1950”, the Rose Art Museum 2009.  I’ve not seen it anywhere  but Waterstones in Piccadilly; only one copy there, I think – and I’ve got it.

Cork Street Galleries

Some terrific stuff in these posh galleries at the moment; Green Park tube, walk through Burlington Arcade past the Royal Academy and there you are.  Hofmann’s comment about not repeating himself very apposite in several cases, however.

John Hoyland

Acrylic on cotton duck, mostly big, square-ish works, 50*50 ins maybe?  Almost fluorescent colours; turquoise, raspberry, acid yellows, purple – and some with thick, glabrous centres of black and brown, like sawn-off tree trunks coated with lumpy creosote; circular splotches of dazzling white, pink, red with coronas of tiny splatter marks.  On some, little flattened discs of multi-coloured acrylic, like trodden-in plasticene.  Electric colours, spacey titles.  Individually, striking and exciting – collectively, the impact drains away.  You need to hang a Hoyland between a muddy Auerbach and a Lanyon, say.

Harold Cohen at Bernard Jacobson Gallery

Again, the vivid acid colours;  patches, snakes, rivers, bent elbows of paint, dashing about all over the canvas.  And again, the cumulative effect of twenty or so is less than that of one big one, seen from the street.  Cohen invented the AARON computer painting program, but these are a sort of collaboration between the computer, which does the basic pattern with inkjet, and the painter, who finishes the work by hand.  For some reason, that seems better to me.

Picasso at Alan Cristea Gallery

Black, grey and white “Portrait Lithographs”.  Fantastic, of course, but with the exception of three done in a rougher, more textured style, very similar variations on a theme.  Less is more, then, is today’s thought.

The Seventh Seal

Watching this the other night, I was struck by how Japanese it looked (and sounded);  the landscape, the riders, the tumblers, the wagons, the bits of music, the mediaeval setting – could have been Kurosawa.  Then again, he was reckoned to have very Western sensibilities, I think.  They were working about the same time.

Ai Weiwei

Has he been released yet?  It seems incredible that they can just drag him off somewhere and lock him up for “economic crimes” – medieval really.  He must be one of the world’s best-known artists.  Maybe if the Chinese government read this, they’ll realise their error and release him.

Blackpaint

15.04.11

PS – Saturday.  Last night, visited the Miro exhibition at Tate Modern, of which more in next blog.  Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seeds still on display, but not a word about his arrest – no petition, posters, nothing.  Shameful, I think; is the management afraid of offending Chinese visitors?

Blackpaint 237

December 31, 2010

Only half an hour to write the rest of my yearly review:

May 2010 – Henry Moore at Tate Britain.   Great exhibition, lots of sniping from critics.  I liked the early ones with marks scored on them.

May – Futurist room at TM.  That huge WWI Bomberg of the field battery.

May – Fra Angelico to Leonardo at the British Museum.  Not surprisingly, the anatomical drawings of Leo and Mick far outshone the rest.

May – Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh.  Has to be the Melville “abstracts”.

May – “Exposed” at Tate Modern.  Tillmans’ B and W photos of the flats.

June 2010 – Tate Britain; Rude Britannia.  Angus Fairhurst’s cartoons.  Also, the huge Ayres painting that was like bits of breakfast, and the early Bacon room with Goering’s dog.

June – Sally Mann at the Photographers Gallery.  The somewhat sinister pictures of her kids on the riverbanks.

July 2010 – Fiona Banner’ hanging flatfish Harrier at the TB.

July – Turtle Burners’ Portrait prize; the officer after the party.

July – Alice Neel at the Whitechapel; Warhol in his underpants.

August 2010 – Guggenheim, Bilbao; Rauschenberg’s Gluts.

August – Tate Britain; John Riddy’s great photo of tattered posters on a brick wall.

Aug -Frederick Cayley Robinson at the National Gallery; those little red dots in the picture.

Aug – Fakes exhibition at the NG; that terrible “Poussin”.

Aug – Agnes Martin at the TM.  Pristine.

Aug – Francis Alys at the TM; running into the dust storm.

Aug – Wolfgang Tillmans at the Serpentine; fantastic – those tendrils of coloured ink floating across the canvas.

Sept 2010 – Tate St.Ives; stunning Appel and Hoffman.

Sept. – Jeremy Deller’s flattened car from Iraq at the Imperial War Museum.  Is it art?

Sept. – Rachel Whiteread; “bodily fluids” on her bed drawing.

Oct. 2010 – Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seeds; I walked upon them and breathed the dust.

Oct – Gauguin at the TM.  Has to be Jacob Wrestling the Angel.

Oct – Turner Prize.  I would have picked Dexter Dalwood.

Oct – Clive Head at NG.   Yes, they look (to me) exactly like super – enlarged photographs.

Nov 2010 – Bridget Riley at NG.  That Big Flame one – beautiful.

Dec 2010 – Cezanne’s card players and pipe smokers (Courtauld); the little flecks of “dandruff”.

Dec – Tate rehangs; the Spencer “Woolshop” and Bomberg “ju jitsu”, and the Gary Hume cricket.

Dec – British Museum, fabulous drawings, “Picasso to Mehretu”.  I went again today.  Dine, Kitaj, Matisse, Richter …..

Thats it.  Best of the year: Sally Mann, Tillmans, Tate St.Ives, British Museum drawings.

The One that Got Away:  Joan Mitchell in Edinburgh, I’m sorry to say.

Blackpaint

31/12/10

Happy New Year.

Blackpaint 235

December 26, 2010

Banksy

Watched the Banksy-related DVD “Exit Through the Gift Shop” yesterday and was taken in for the first 40 minutes or so; then Thierry put the camera down and became Mr. Brainwash and the film suddenly looked too much like Spinal Tap to be true.  We were interested enough to check on Wikipedia though and it says there was a show by Brainwash in LA which attracted thousands – so concluded that it was cooked up by Banksy and the American with “Thierry” as the front-man.  But then it’s Wikipedia, so could be a false entry….

Banksy’s stuff is good; accessible, funny, provocative, daring and well-executed.  If he makes a few bob out of his art and stunts, good luck to him.  I think you only sell out when you join the other side and/or start criticising others who come after you – other than saying, “I did that first,” which is fair enough (assuming you did, of course).  It’s not his fault that he became the next big thing for a while.

Van Gogh

Have got a copy of VG’s selected letters, so will be able to check on comments made by Richard Dorment in the Telegraph about the letters and paintings exhibition at the RA early in the year (see Blackpaint 230, 13th December 2010).  Only just started, and already I notice a sort of prissy, bossy tone in the letters to Theo – a great long list of mostly obscure painters he (Theo) should look at.  Funny really, considering Theo ended up supporting him throughout his short life.

Paul Morley also does this – makes lists of artists, not supports Van Gogh financially –  in his Observer music column every week; personally, I don’t think this is good journalism.  I am sometimes tempted to make lists of painters I admire – de Stael, Jorn, Appel, de Kooning, Lanyon, Sandra Blow, Joan Mitchell, Diebenkorn, Heron, Hoffman, Rauschenburg, Auerbach, Kitaj, Giotto, Fra Angelico, Michelangelo – but I manage to avoid it.

Blackpaint

26.12.10

Blackpaint 207

October 15, 2010

Dexter Dalwood

I’ve been looking at the new book of Dalwood’s work.  A wizard wheeze, doing crime scenes and major events as empty rooms or places.  It ticks the social comment box – if you call a painting “Yalta” or “Birth of the UN” or “Sunny von Bulow”, it doesn’t matter what you put in it, critics will see some social or political relevance there; I don’t think there usually is any.  The Turner Prize entry, “Dr. Kelly”, for example – a tree on a hilltop, against an intense night-time blue, big silver moon – it says loneliness, maybe despair, to me; but it doesn’t constitute a critique.  Maybe having a picture named after a scandalous tragedy involving the Iraq war in the Turner Prize exhibition will be enough to gain Dalwood a lead; who knows?  

It doesn’t have to be, of course, as long as the picture is good and interesting; I’m just suggesting it helps, by giving the work another (spurious) dimension.  Good luck to him – an idea that can run, and already has for some years.

Dalwood’s paintings contain little cameos of other painters’ work;  De Kooning, for example, in the UN picture; Bacon on the wall in “Klaus von Bulow”; and Sunny as Millais’ Ophelia in “Sunny von Bulow”. 

Michelangelo’s “Last Judgement”

For some reason, I’d thought that M. painted this straight after finishing the ceiling in 1512; I suppose I just thought you would – “ceiling done, now for the walls” sort of thing.  but  no – he did a lot of other stuff and came back in 1536, 24 years later when he was 60 years old, to do the huge fresco for a different Pope, Paul III.  It took him until 1541.

Later, following the Council of Trent, some of his figures had breech cloths painted in to cover their genitals – but the concealments look  pretty random to me.  Why cover some members and leave others on display?  I can understand why they would want Jesus under wraps (but his winding sheet seems to curl round fairly naturally, so presume that was M.’s own work) -but there seems to me no reason behind the other choices.  Can anyone help?

Ai Weiwei

Sad news that the seeds are now out of bounds; now that I think of it, there was a thin mist of dust hanging above the “beach” when I was there.  Health and (choke) safety gone (cough) mad, if you ask me (wheeze and collapse).

CoBrA

There urgently needs to be a documentary made about the above group and their associates; Jorn, Appel, Pederson, Constant etc.  I can’t remember ever seeing anything about them on television or film.  Same goes for Per Kirkeby, who after all, is still alive.  Tons of art on British telly at the moment, but its mostly crap, or about huge names (Picasso, Matisse, Warhol); we know all that.

Corryvreckan by Blackpaint

15.10.10