Posts Tagged ‘Baselitz’

Blackpaint 646 – Rembrandt, Richter, Caro, Saatchi

June 4, 2019

Rembrandt, Visions of the Self, Gagosian, ended 18th May

Sorry – missed the boat to recommend this one; but it was very good.  Just a bunch of self-portraits really, linked to or inspired by Rembrandt’s selfies.  A selection below, as always:

 

Untitled 2011 by Urs Fischer; Cast in wax.

 

Cindy Sherman, in disguise of course…

Baselitz – seems to be adjusting his dress…

 

Dora Maar – a searching gaze…

Others on display included Howard Hodgkin, Bacon, Jenny Savile and of course, Rembrandt himself.

 

Richter, Overpainted Photographs,  Gagosian Davies Street W1, on until 8th June

Only four days to go, well worth a look.  They’re not much more than postcard size, by the way.  Simple idea, but some great effects.

 

 

 

 

Caro, Seven Decades, Annely Juda, until 2nd July

Interesting to see some of Caro’s early pieces, from before his big conceptual breakthrough (connected metal components, displayed on the floor instead of some sort of platform).  The drawing on the wall below is of a bull, but reminds me of David Smith’s flat plane arrangements, like Hudson River Landscape of 1951.  The two small figures – Bernard Meadows, or maybe Elizabeth Frink (was she later or his contemporary?)

 

 

Touch of the Guillotine about this one…

 

Speaking Trumpet from the lower decks?

 

Navigational instruments?

Kaleidoscope, Saatchi Gallery, Kings Road, until 11th June

Another short time one, I’m afraid; several interesting and one really good young painter.

Pierre Carreau, AquaViva series

French artist, working in the Caribbean.  I’ve no idea if these photographic images are manipulated in any way, and if so, how – but the waves depicted seem somehow to be frozen, or solidified, or maybe coated in oil.  Maybe it’s the size of them, coupled with a high shutter speed.

 

Whitney Bedford

Appropriately nautical- sounding name, this American artist’s work, according to the Saatchi booklet, was created at the time of the Iraq war and they are “sort-of-salon paintings about empire and war in very pop colours”.  Can’t say I got the connection with war, but I did get the very pop colours.

 

Florence Hutchings

 

Florence Hutchings again

Great paintings; big, roughly textured, loosely collaged in places, big rich colours.  They’re sort of Braque-ish, I think.  I look forward to seeing more of her work.  Only 22, apparently, based in London.

 

Tillman Kaiser

Austrian, from Vienna.  Booklet says his paintings “echo a likeness to the art of stained glass windows” and he says he is interested in symmetries.  Some of his paintings represent patterns of swirling heads and reminded me strongly of works by Ellen Gallagher.

 

Saatchi, Gallery 8: “Arctic: New Frontier” by Yuri Kozyrev and Kadir Van Lohuizen

Kozyrev’s pictures are of Russian Arctic ports and the Nomadic people of the region; van Lohuizen’s are of Spitzberg Island in the Svalbard peninsula.  Some are breathtaking scenery; some rather depressing scenes of workers revving jet skis in great clouds of exhaust, or of giant, impressive pieces of plant in bright yellow against a blinding white background of snow and ice.

As always, one of mine to finish with:

Ocean of Storms

Blackpaint

4/06/19

 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 496 – Women’s Half Issue; Diebenkorn; Caligari

May 24, 2015

George Baselitz and Women Artists

Reading in the Guardian this week about Baselitz, I was interested to see he hasn’t modified his opinion about women as artists; just not up to it, apparently.  Baselitz figures prominently in Klaus Honnef’s “Contemporary Art”, a Taschen book published in 1990 and claiming to be “the first attempt to provide a comprehensive survey of contemporary art”.  It draws on the work of 102 artists from nine countries (mainly Germany, Italy, USA and UK) and out of the 102, ELEVEN are women.  There are several group photographs of ten or a dozen smiling artists; only one contains a woman – Francesco Clemente’s unnamed wife.

To avoid compounding the error, these are the artists in the book who are women; four are American, the rest German:

  • Susan Rothenberg (below)

  • Ina Barfuss
  • Elvira Bach (below)

bach

  • Jenny Holzer
  • Rosemarie Trockel (below)

trockel

  • Asta Groting
  •  Isa Genzken
  • Barbara Kruger (below)

kruger

  • Katharina Sieverding (below)

sieverding

 

  • Cindy Sherman
  • Astrid Klein

So there we are; I’ve mentioned all the women artists in a 25 year old Taschen book and can no longer be fairly accused of misogyny.  Thank goodness that things have changed and there is no longer any perceptible sexist bias in the art world…

Diebenkorn

I’ve been back to the RA exhibition for another look and spent 90 minutes just wandering round these fantastic pictures in delight.  This time I noticed sections in “Day at the Race” and the Urbana to its left which both have little groups of colours in them, as if exposed by scraping – sort of oblong insets.  And “Sea Wall” (below);

dieb sea wall

and the unganly, collapsed beauty of one of his women drawings (knee up, she’s lying on her left arm);

and the charcoal drawing with the straight lines, the collages and the cigar box tops – and everything else.  Fantastic – see it while you can, it’s not on much longer.

diebenkorn day at the race

 

diebenkorn berkeley 57

 

 

The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920)

What I’d forgotten about this great German Expressionist horror film is the twist at the end; is the narrator really mad, and “Caligari” the master of the asylum? Or has he been telling the truth?

caligari

 

Conrad Veidt on the roof with friend

 

caligari2

Werner Krauss and Conrad Veidt

Back to the talkies next week.

john the conqueror root

John the Conqueror Root

Blackpaint

24.05.15

Blackpaint 435 – Hamilton, Richter, Baselitz, Andrex and the Phuncbot…

February 20, 2014

Richard Hamilton at Tate Modern

richard hamilton 2

Surprising how much ground he covered in his ideas and work.   It starts with shapes and forms from D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson; then those parchment-coloured, fragmented, “technical” drawings – car grids and headlights, electric toasters, commercial hairdriers, collages using plates of reflective silver material; a room based on Hamilton’s reconstructions of “Bride Stripped Bare”; blurred photographs, recalling (prefiguring?) Richter – anonymous blobs on crowded beaches, the Jagger-Fraser handcuffs picture, the Kent State victim, echoed in Richter’s Baader Meinhof pics; the flower pictures (Richter again); the political stuff – Treatment Room, with Thatcher holding forth (silently) on screen over bed (touch of Hirst here); Blair as a two gun cowboy, the Christ -like Dirty Protester in his cell, British soldier in Belfast street, Orange Order bowler hat man, maps showing expansion of Israeli occupied territory…

There are a couple of pictures containing Andrex toilet paper; not adverts, but semi-abstract paintings – and a trendy 60’s model girl, squatting fully dressed (paisley, I think) and taking a little curly shit on the floor – clearly where Martin Creed got the image; then there are the empty, mirrored hotel lobbies and stately naked models hoovering and hovering; the “Richard” (Ricard) parody logo that recalls Ed Ruscha’ s work; the electric toothbrush with denture plate attached and parody advert with Lorraine Chase- and, of course, “What is it that Makes Today’s Homes..” – this is so small that I missed it first time round and had to go back through to find it.

richard hamilton1

So, rich mix of ideas, startling originality, immaculate execution, with an underlying coldness and disengagement, even in the political work.

Philemon (Bible)

A short letter from Paul; but the interesting thing is that this letter, to Philemon, asking him to take back his former slave Onesimus, a runaway, demonstrates that slavery was not incompatible with Christianity – or, at least, with the Bible.  I suppose this should be obvious – nothing against slavery in the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount, for example – yet you tend to forget, because of the Christian influence in the anti-slavery movements in the 19th century.  I wonder if the other great religions condemn slavery explicitly?

Memphis Tennessee

I’ve been listening to this for 50 odd years – not continuously, of course – and have always wondered who “took the message and he wrote it on the wall”.  It sounds like “the phuncbot” to me.  So I finally looked it up on the net and it’s “My uncle”.  One version gives “Cos my uncle…”.  I’m still not convinced and prefer phuncbot.

The Travelling Players

travelling players

Theo Angelopoulos’ masterpiece; an ever dwindling, forlorn band of actors trudging and training through 20th century Greek history, putting on the same classic play in village halls, as war, murder, treachery and tragedy surround and wash over them.  It has that sort of tableau vivant style, interspersed with chunks of history spoken straight to camera by actors, like narrators in a play.  This sounds dreary, but isn’t; there is staggering mountain scenery, grotesque violence, partisan politics in both senses – and classical references, in that the players correspond to the tragedy of Agamemnon – Electra, Orestes etc.  And music – beautiful, haunting songs and American dance tunes.  Suitcases, shabby suits and coats, umbrellas, railway stations, mountain roads in the snow.  Long, but fantastic.

Baselitz, Richter, Penck at the British Museum

Powerful and dramatic woodcuts and drawings from Baselitz.   In 1967, he began to turn everything upside down; seated figures, eagles, trees, the lot.  The info on the wall explains that he was trying to empty the pictures of their figurative content, to abstractify them in some way. He succeeds sometimes, but mostly you think this is a seated man upside down; I wonder why.  Great, Seurat-like portrait woodcut from Penck and spirally, scribbly abstracts from Richter.

Burmese Days

I’ve been looking at Orwell’s writing on Forster and Passage to India; mainly favourable, as you would expect.  He does say that Forster’s characters sometimes die for no real reason – and that the Germans broadcast Passage in the war as anti-British propaganda.  This was not a criticism; rather, it showed how powerful Forster’s novel was as a critique of British imperialism in India.  I imagine they would have broadcast Burmese Days too, had Orwell been as distinguished a novelist as Forster at the time.  It’s much more vehement than the earlier novel.

??????????

Flowerpot

Blackpaint

20.02.14

Blackpaint 234

December 24, 2010

British Museum Prints and Drawings (cont.)

Baselitz – Seated person in looping and criss-crossing black ink – but upside-down, as usual.

Hans Hoffman – A surprise for me to see this most painterly of painters in a drawing exhibition.  More looping and straight black strokes, a little like Bram Van der Velde, on red and … white, I think.  From the other end of the room, looked like an abstract Rouault, if such things there are.

Anastasi – New one on me; “Subway Drawings”, because done on the subway – with his eyes closed.  Little clouds of fine black lines on either end of a thicker black bar, like a barbell with fuzzy knapweed instead of weights.  I don’t know what the idea was (maybe just to see what came out).

Jay Defeo – Wrote about her one or two blogs back; a friend of the 1st generation “Beats”.  This a technically superb rendering of the top of a camera tripod (a little like Richard Hamilton in 60s).  Apparently, she did this stuff to relax between her proper abstracts.

Franz Kline – Instantly recognisable thick black calligraphy, like a letter K on its side.  Called “Untitled”, of course.

Seliger – Forgot first name.  Looping marks like etching (maybe it was) or staining in grey.  Like a cross between Jaap Wagemaker andLucebert.

Franz Ackermann – Modern white apartments, stadium, seashore, brightly coloured and as if through a fish-eye lens.

George Grosz – Street scenes of Weimar Berlin with usual caricatures – none the worse for that.

Dubuffet – “Landscape in Yellow” – usual scraped and scored surface, about as much like a landscape as a rhinoceros – which brings me to…

Durer – The famous rhino, etching and original drawing, in the permanent display bit.  As everyone knows, he’d never seen one and was going on a written description of the one delivered to Brussels(?) Zoo during his time.  If it’s true that he’d never seen one, it’s a pretty miraculous likeness, allowing for a few bizarrities (I know, but it should be a word).

Mehretu – One of those precise, exploding lines abstracts that look like computer graphics (probably are).

Merry Christmas to Christian readers – probably aren’t any left, by now.

Blackpaint

24.12.10

Blackpaint 110

April 14, 2010

Musee d’Orsay

Do not despair; last entry on Paris,  two collections to go.

This one is the giant train station, with the central aisle and landings occupied by a host of sculptures, some bizarre, reminding me of the murderer’s studio in Roger Corman’s “Buckets of Blood”.  The place was packed, of course; the crowd included a party of elderly Americans, one an octogenarian Jimmy Stewart, about 6’6″, thin as a lath, grey-suited, who pointed at a Degas and drawled in a Boston accent ,”I would love that for my collection,” apparently in all seriousness.

Where to start?  I suppose the thing that surprised us most was the number of truly awful paintings on show by fantastic, legendary painters.  There were three terrible Manets, one a portrait of a woman with fat red lips, that you might have expected to see on the railings at Hyde Park.  Ditto several Cezannes! Browny, creamy, crappy colours, sloppy execution.  Some ugly (to say the least) Bonnards in crude, harsh greens and -mauves, was it? – that astounded me after seeing the Bonnards at the Pompidou the day before.  And there was a turgid, shit-brown house or bar by Van Gogh, surrounded by a group of several Dutch women.  Maybe they were discussing how bad it was; more probably, they were saying, “Look, that’s that restaurant at the corner of…”

Having said this, there were, of course, shedloads of brilliant Degas, Cezannes, Manets, Van Goghs, Lautrecs, Pissaros, Renoirs (don’t like him anyway, too pretty), Redons, some lovely pastels by Maurice Denis… Very few Seurats, I think I’m right in saying, and the few were very small and not striking.  Just too many Impressionists and Post-impressionists, leaving me gasping for the cool water of Jackson Pollock, Joan Mitchell or de Kooning.

So now the good things.  Manet’s Olympia above all; she’s short, challenging, direct and holds your gaze (which is long) – but her black maid looks odd and unconvincing to me, actually like all black people in paintings by Europeans of the time now I think of it.  Maybe it’s some racism in me, or maybe there’s a thesis in this somewhere – probably already written long ago.  Nearby, Courbet’s vagina – painting, that is – with its little group of engrossed spectators.  Other vast Courbets, darkly varnished, of stags and hunting scenes, elsewhere in rooms of their own, are amongst the awful things.

The wonderful draughtsmanship of Degas and Lautrec evidenced over and over again; those chaps could really do hands!  The Van Goghs, apart from the brown pub, glowing with rich colours, as were some of the Gauguins and Cezannes.  And the Dejeuner sur l’herbe (how many did he do? There’s one in the Courtauld gallery too).

There was a special exhibition called Crime and Punishment, that was like Tussauds with a few great paintings (Blake, Fuseli, Munch) thrown in to give it artistic credibility – but also  a full size guillotine, brown wax death heads, gruesome photos of old murder victims – victims of old murders, that is. 

There was one memorable painting, by Carel Willink, of a hanging scene; the prisoner, in a pin striped suit and collarless shirt, bound at the ankles and knees, standing on the platform, reading from a sheet of paper.  Around him, the hangman and assistants in ’20s suits, waiting patiently, one casually seated on the hand rail.  The noose waiting too, tidily fixed to a hook on the upright timber.  I think it was probably done from a photograph, although he specialised in de Chirico-like empty, dreamlike streets and squares.

Museum of Modern Art

Out by the Eiffel Tower, in a huge white municipal building with columns and steps, covered with graffiti and besieged by skateboarders.  First, Fauves – Vlaminck, Derain, Dufy; loads of ceramics, plates and pots, mostly by Vlaminck, some by Picasso and Matisse; Legers, rough and crumbly close up, a lovely Gris; several harem Matisses, after Delacroix, was it?  A huge Delaunay football painting of a Cardiff City match.

A great room containing several huge Germans – a Polke, a lovely Oehlen, a Baselitz upside-downer – and with them, a Christopher Wool, typical, dark ashy grey, oily lines “crawled” across it in black.  Giant black lemons by Thomas Schutte lying around.  The only annoying thing, pointless to my mind, a number of imitations and copies of paintings by, for instance, Pollock, distinguished by red labels (genuine works were labelled in black).

OK, enough of Paris – back to London tomorrow.

Blackpaint

14.04.10

Blackpaint 105

April 6, 2010

A History of the World in 100 Objects

“Did” 30 of these yesterday, being marched round by my eldest son who duly photographed each one, allowing a minute or so for contemplation before continuing.  This was a minute more than many visitors, who contented themselves with the photo – in one case, a photograph of the label, rather than the object.

The most intriguing object for me was the 13,000 year old swimming reindeer (actually two reindeer, the male in pursuit) carved out of mammoth tusk and discovered in a French valley.  The experts have been unable to discover or surmise a use for it, which raises the possibility that it was carved simply for the pleasure, satisfaction, call it what you like, of “artistic” production.  Is this the earliest example of such a piece?  It may, of course, have had some ritual purpose, like animals in cave paintings or fertility objects; but unlike these, it seems to record an observed event. 

The Olduvai stone chopping tool makes you wonder how they knew it wasn’t just an ordinary rock – presumably it was part of a site.

German Expressionism and colour

I have some serious doubts about that stuff I was saying in Blackpaint 102, about “German” colours being dead, washed-out, livid.  I think it’s true, or at least arguable,  for Beckmann, Neue Sachlikheit people like Modersohn-Becker and Schmidt-Rotluff, and on up to Polke, Baselitz, Kiefer and Kippenberger.  But then there was Marc and Macke – OK, they were earlier but they were vibrant and limpid, like Dufy and the Fauves.  And Rouault and Soutine were as dark and/or livid as anyof the Germans I’ve mentioned.  and the Bauhaus people, like Schlemmer, they were bright too – so possibly, it’s all nonsense.  Probably more to do with movements than nationalities.

Beckmann’s “Night”

Surely that’s Lenin in the cap on the right??

Here’s an appropriate one of mine, in dark, dead colours:

Blackpaint

06.04.10

Blackpaint 102

April 2, 2010

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

I used to hate this artist’s work.  It was violent, crudely done in garish colours and too “Germanic” by miles.  Typical German stuff, I thought; women all portrayed as whores, murders (cf. Grosz and Kokoschka), cold, staring, cigarette-mouthing soldier waiting, while woman undressed for his attentions.. All impeccably Weimar and non-Nazi for sure – he was in the Nazi exhibition of degenerate art and was kicked out of the Prussian Academy of Arts – but still somehow brutish and sordid.

Then, I went to see the London exhibition at the Royal Academy – which I’m staggered to find was in 2003 (I thought it was maybe 3 years ago); I found that it was, yes, all the things I say above, but I loved it.  The colours are livid; he uses a sulphurous yellow, sickly oranges, pinks and especially lime greens.  His groups of secretly smiling, blank/black-eyed street women are like exotic, elongated insects, their fancy collars and hat plumes antennae; they are ogled by cigaretted men.  The pictures are strangely angled, as if reflected in a distorting mirror.

Those colours somehow seem to pervade German painting down to recent times, for me; Baselitz and Kippenberger, for instance.  Even – especially – when the colours are bright, they seem to have an inner darkness, or more a sort of deadness to them.  This sounds bad, but I like it; it’s not blinding Mediterranean, like those tiresome French and Spanish geniuses and not washed-out and understated, like our dour British masterpieces.

So, one thing you can be sure of when you visit Blackpaint’s blog – you will never be plagued by tired national stereotypes in the search for artistic truth.

Since I have given you two Kirchners , you have to have one of mine-

Blackpaint

02.04.10

PS – not sure if anyone is reading – please drop me a comment (good or bad) if you are.