Posts Tagged ‘Art Under Attack’

Blackpaint 497 – Metzger on Metal, AbEx Women

May 31, 2015

Gustav Metzger at Tate Britain

They’ve reorganised some of the rooms at TB and I was surprised and delighted to see a whole roomful of great Metzgers.  I thought the second and third were abstract but apparently they are pictures of a table.  I knew of Metzger as one of those Auto-Destructive artists from the 60s who set fire to things and smashed up pianos and the like – in the recent “Art Under Attack” exhibition at TB, there was a film of Metzger with a big screen up opposite St. Pauls, which he destroyed with acid (the screen, not St.Pauls) so that the cathedral slowly appeared through the growing holes.  Before this, he was one of Bomberg’s disciples and there are a couple of paintings which are instantly recognisable as school of Bomberg.  Is there any other painter who had such an iron grip on his followers as Bomberg did?

metzger1

 

This one is on metal.

metzger3

 

metzger2

 

Yes, easy to see the table now – but I had to be told.  My partner thinks he’d seen Matisse’s “La Table de Marbre Rose” (1916);

matisse table

 Matisse

 

Also new at TB, a darkened room containing Ralph Peacock’s brilliant “Ethel”:

Ethel 1897 Ralph Peacock 1868-1946 Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1898 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N01672

Look at that face: “How long am I going to have to sit here?”

Mitchell, Frankenheimer, Hartigan

Last blog was half about the imbalance of “influential” male and female artists in the 80s and 90s, at least as it was reflected in Taschen books.  It didn’t allow me to include any abstract expressionist painters, so here are works by these three women, fighting their corner in the famously macho AbEx “community”.  Joan Mitchell is my favourite painter. Helen Frankenthaler is also a seminal figure, of course – Grace Hartigan much less well-known, but also fantastic (see below).

frank lorelei

 Frankenthaler

joan mitchell gug

Joan Mitchell

Hartigan

Grace Hartigan, Paper Dolls

Beckett – Fail Better

I keep hearing and reading people quoting Beckett’s famous phrase as if it’s some sort of positive guidance.  He’s taking the piss, surely – if you fail, you fail.  Consider this exchange from “Rough for Radio 1”:

“She (astonished): But he is alone!

He: Yes.

She: All alone?

He: When one is alone one is all alone.”

When you fail, you fail.  And on that note –

asger's revenge

 

Asger’s Revenge

Blackpaint

31.05.15 

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Blackpaint 419 – Gouged Eyes, Smashed Noses, Livid Flesh (but no sex)

October 31, 2013

Art Under Attack – Tate Britain

A great exhibition.   It starts with the iconoclasm under Henry VIII and Edward VI; some very beautiful small statues, smashed noses, broken in half, eyes gouged out (to avoid the possibility of eye contact with the common people – a superstitious fear that a rapport might be established, based on the idea, perhaps, that the soul is visible through the eyes?); paintings scored and scratched.  Becket’s image scraped out of beautiful Books of Hours.

A statue of Charles I by Hubert LeSueur in black metal, with the crown hacked – not much damage though; must be tough metal.

There is a painting of the Pope being stoned with boulders by the four Evangelists, owned by Henry VIII; a fantastic large statue of the dead Christ, dug up after centuries of being buried.

Moving on historically, there is the destruction of Nelson’s Column in Dublin by the IRA in 1966 – pushing the definition of art, surely – and then the Sufragettes, who defaced sexy Pre-Raph paintings and slashed the Rokeby Venus; this I found interesting; didn’t know they concerned themselves with presentation of women as sex objects, as well as agitating for the vote.

Then, there is a section on auto-destructive art, Metzger on the South Bank, destroying paintings with acid to reveal St Paul’s across the river, and Ortiz destroying a piano – the remains are on the wall, looking a bit like a large Schwitters – Austrian Actionists in a group photo, looking like a bunch of manic perverts, appropriately perhaps.

Finally, there are modern artworks that have been attacked, like Allen Jones’ woman as an office chair, the face of which was defaced with acid. presumably by a feminist saboteur.  Andre’s bricks are there and some Goya(?) prints purchased and defaced by the Chapmans.

There is perhaps a disconnection between religious and political iconoclasm and the destruction of works by the artists themselves for aesthetic purposes; it doesn’t matter really. though – a great exhibition.

Dancer in the Dark

The Von Trier film, featuring Bjork.  Check the opening credit sequence – it’s Per Kirkeby, like drawings or prints of fossils in red and indigo inks.  Not keen on Bjork’s acting though.

Sebastian Faulks, A Possible Life

In the last blog, I mentioned the similarity between the drowning incident in the above book to that in Pete Seeger’s song “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” and to a Scott Fitzgerald story about WWI.  I’ve found the SF story; it’s called “I Didn’t Get Over”.  It’s not really the same; Scott Fitzgerald’s concerns a raft which capsizes and results in the drowning of more than twenty soldiers.  In Seeger’s song, the only casualty is the foolhardy officer.  The common denominator of the three is the foolishness and/or stubbornness of the officers involved.  There was a real incident, in the US in the 60’s I think; the Ribbon Creek incident, in which six marines drowned.

Facing the Modern; Portraits from Vienna, National Gallery

This is a fascinating exhibition; the pictures range from the most painstaking naturalism to quite extreme expressionist renditions.  Schiele and Klimt need no description, of course; Arnold Schoenberg has several of his portraits – the faces are similar, but there is something very attractive about the paintings, despite their gaucheness.  Another painter,  new to me, is Richard Gerstl – the Fay sisters, seated in their white dresses, terrifying; Gerstl’s brother, in an officer’s uniform, staring out from a Vuillard-like drawing room, the whole thing rendered in Seurat-ish blobs.

gerstl1

Fay Sisters

gerstl2

Gerstl’s Brother

Kokoschkas in livid greens and purples on ochre, twisted features (Kokoschka’s people never look at each other). ugly scratches on the background that add nothing; then, three fabulous dark portraits that recall Sickert, for me anyway.

There is a family group, viewed from a high angle, by Anton Kolig – rough, impressionistic, quickly executed and terrific.  It reminds me of the work of Michael Andrews; look at that little girl’s drawing arm.

kolig1

Kolig

And there are the Schieles; that livid flesh, composed of a brush marks in a variety of colours, prefiguring the flesh tones of Freud, Bacon, Jenny Saville….

schiele1

Schiele and Schoenberg

Another great exhibition.  A preoccupation with death, incidentally; a lot of death masks, deathbed portraits, memorial portraits – apparently there was a very high suicide rate amongst young Jewish men at that time.

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White Line Fever 1

Blackpaint

31.10.13