Posts Tagged ‘Bram Bogart’

Blackpaint 343 – Hansel and Gretel, Staring Eyes and Jones v.Hirst

May 24, 2012

Bauhaus at the Barbican

Bauhaus to me means those Modernist white buildings with big windows and outside staircases, distinctive lettering, smoking artists with staring eyes, wearing overalls they have designed themselves…  This exhibition shows the early Arts and Crafts nature of the movement, buildings designed in wood by Walter Gropius having that Hansel and Gretel quality, or maybe Goering’s Karin hunting lodge.  Some of the early woodcuts on display, by Feininger, Itten and Gerhard Marcks, the latter two new names to me, very German Expressionist.  So that was unexpected. 

 Then there were the dolls, or puppets:  again, some of these were slightly sinister – one called the Executioner, another with a head consisting of an electrical circuit, and, the most memorable one of Paul Klee, with the staring eyes and a laboratory coat.

A set of small, colourful Kandinsky abstracts, entitled “Small Worlds”, consisting of shapes and symbols apparently flying apart, suggesting notes of music to me; of course, Kandinsky believed in synaesthesia, the perception and representation of sound, particularly music, in visual image.  Wasn’t that in Fantasia?

The Oskar Schlemmer figures, slim, androgynous, anonymous, very prevalent – and Schlemmer’s pneumatic costumes from “The Triadic Ballet”.  Furniture, Breuer chairs, nests of pastel coloured tables; teapots, tea sets and “liqueur flasks”, made from nickel silver? looking strangely fragile, awkward and impractical – the handles look difficult to hold and as if they might burn your fingers.  Probably very simple and utilitarian in the context of the times, though.

Trouble with the Bauhaus stuff is that it’s had a fair amount of exposure over the years – I remember a really big Bauhaus exhibition at the V&A, I think, a few years back, so seen all this before.  Good, though.

Damien Hirst at White Cube

An interestingly vitriolic review of these paintings by Jonathan Jones in the Guardian, entitled “A message to Damien Hirst: stop now, you have become a disgrace to your generation”.  He says that the paintings fail “to come close…to basic competence”,  that they “lack the skill of thousands of amateur artists who paint at weekends all over Britain”.  He can’t, says Jones, manage to paint an orange accurately; the “poor sphere seems to float in mid-air because of the clumsy circle of shadow below it”.

I won’t quote more from the review as it can be read online, no doubt, but the tone interested me; Jones wrote a similarly savage review of an exhibition by Mark Leckey a while back; like Hirst, once praised and admired by Jones (see Blackpaint 276).

Some of the paintings are reproduced in the Guardian; they don’t look that bad to me, I have to say; the orange looks like an orange and doesn’t seem to me to be at any worse odds with the tabletop than some of the fruit in Cezanne or Bonnard paintings (Hirst seems to be playing about with the picture plane by using a grid of dots in “front” of the table).  OK, they wouldn’t merit an exhibition if they weren’t by Hirst – but not that bad, on this showing.  Have to go and see it now, to see if it really warrants the Jones blitzing. 

Bram Bogart

Obit. in Guardian.  See the book “Intensely Dutch”; he uses paint applied inches deep, even thicker than Appel, great slabs and billows of single colour, white, yellow, red.

And an old one of mine to end with, just gone to a new home;

Brother Angels



Blackpaint 220

November 16, 2010


Taking a break from Michelangelo for a week or two – not that I’ve exhausted him as a topic, but “What do they know of England who only England know?”, as someone – Kipling, was it? – once said.  So, following on from the “Virgin of the Rocks”, I thought I’d look at Leonardo’s “Last Supper”, in the Refectory (appropriately) at Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.

Jesus has just announced to the diners that one of them will betray him and there is general consternation.  In any Last Supper, of course, the two main characters are Jesus and Judas; Jesus is, I think, always portrayed centre table and in Leonardo’s, Judas is two seats to his right – although Peter is leaning across to talk to John, making Judas effectively third on Christ’s right.  I wonder, is there some convention about the seating of the disciples, or do they go wherever the painter decides?  And has there ever been a depiction of the scene looking from one end of the table, with the disciples around it and Christ at the top?

Anyway, Judas has to be prominent, so that his guilt (a moneybag usually, and some positional difference from the others) can be signalled.  Leonardo’s depiction was the first in post-Medieval times to have Judas behind the table with the others.  He is clutching his bag of silver and recoiling in shock –  apparently in the act of reaching for a bread roll.  I read somewhere that he was sometimes depicted with red hair, to distinguish him as the betrayer.  From the poor state of repair of the fresco, I can’t tell whether or not Leonardo has followed this convention.

The Sperm Pipe

The second work by da Vinci to draw my attention today was the drawing of the act of sexual intercourse, in which the side view of the male in section shows a tube running from the brain directly to the penis.  The male is shown as a person (see below) whilst only the female sexual parts are depicted.  It was thought at the time that sperm was produced in the brain and flowed from there down to the penis by way of this pipe.  Given that images arising in the brain contribute to the erection of the penis, this seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable hypothesis in the absence of physical evidence and can therefore be cited as an early example of Blackpaint’s Law of Spurious Plausibility (Blackpaint 217 and 165).

Bram Bogart

Looking at his “Untitled” 1956, ink on watercolour paper, couldn’t help noticing resemblance to those Chinese gunpowder paintings by Cai Guo-Kiang – it’s in “Intensely Dutch” by Hendrik Kolenberg, Art Gallery NSW 2009.

Van Gogh

While I’m on Holland, ploughing on through the Taschen 2 volume, complete VG.  In 1885, he painted portraits of 19 peasant women in white caps, 15 peasant women in dark caps, one in a red cap, two in green shawls, one in “greenish lace” and 11 with bare heads.  Only four portraits of men, though – two in caps, one with a pipe and one with a cap and pipe.  That’s just the portraits – others show work and eating, for instance, the famous “Potato Eaters”.