Posts Tagged ‘Burt Lancaster’

Blackpaint 536 – Newbolt, Soutine, the Leopard and the Greek

March 14, 2016

Thomas Newbolt at Kings Place

Thomas-Newbolt---Figure-IV-,-2015_248w

 

A series of solitary young women,  lost look in their eyes (or asleep as above), in glamorous dresses,  perched on a sofa; and small portraits of women’s faces, some cropped to show only some features.  The paint is thickly sliced on with a palette knife and is thickly textured in an almost Auerbachian manner.  I think there are one or two male heads out of twenty(?) or so.  My friend suggested a resemblance to the portraits of Soutine, which seemed to me exactly right.  I enjoyed the paintings greatly, even though several were obscured by the screens of a corporate event that was taking place.

Soutine

Having mentioned this great and influential artist – Bacon and de Kooning, among several others, were influenced by him – I’ll put up some of his works; wild. expressionist townscapes, the portraits that Newbolt’s paintings faintly resemble and a side of beef, if I can find one:

soutine 2

soutine selfie

Soutine self-portrait

soutine1

That path looks like a salamander holding a pine tree…

 

beef

Mm – Tasty!

 

soutine skate

Here’s a Soutine Ray, to compare with Ensor’s Skate

Why is there no Taschen of Soutine, or any reasonably cheap book of his paintings?  A question I have asked before in this blog; but, despite its wide readership and undoubted influence, no reply has yet been forthcoming.

The Leopard, Visconti (1963)

the leopard 1

Burt Lancaster’s superb performance as the Sicilian prince, facing up to social and political change, his own mortality and that of his caste and values.  The operatic battle scenes, the insufferable nephew Tancredi (played by Alain Delon), the sweaty, shifty, worldly priest (Romano Valli – later, the fussy hotelier in Visconti’s “Death in Venice”, and brilliant in that too) – but above all, the ball  and that waltz with Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale, prefiguring, perhaps, the ball scene in Sokurov’s “Russian Ark”.

leopard 2

Well, no, not above all; there is a scene after the dance in which the ailing prince, looking for somewhere to rest, comes upon a huge room filled with the used chamber pots of the ball guests…

The Renaissance Unchained (BBC4)

I liked this series, especially Waldemar Januszczak’s exploration of Van Eyck and other so-called “Flemish Primitives” such as Memling, which showed up the absurdity of such a term for these brilliant draftsmen of fiendish detail with their clear, cold, deep colours.  I thought he had something when he referred to Michelangelo’s “Opal Fruit colours” in the Sistine Chapel (not the blues and browns though!); I’d also never noticed before the similarity between El Greco’s naked, elongated bodies in “the Opening of the Fifth Seal” and those of Picasso’s “Demoiselles d’Avignon”.  Apparently, this has been known since the 80s.  Here’s the El Greco, but I can’t find a decent photo of the Picasso, oddly.  Still, it’s a well enough known image…

fifth seal

I used to think El Greco’s paintings were OK, but sort of stuffy and boring in a dark, heavy, religious, Spanish way (despite coming from Crete); now I like them – but not that shimmery thing he has, see above.  No doubt, next week, I’ll think different.  A couple of life drawing exercises and an old painting of mine to finish:

 

cropping 1

Cropping 1

 

cropping 2

Cropping 2

 

green fuse

Green Fuse

Blackpaint

14.3.16

 

Blackpaint 506 – Light through the Thorns, Parrots in Boxes, Budgies in Trunks

August 8, 2015

William Gear – A Centenary Exhibition, Redfern Gallery, Cork Street W1

gear redfern 1

A couple of blogs ago (Blackpaint 502), I wrote about the Neil Stokoe exhibition at the Redfern, to which I’d gone. expecting William Gear.  Now the Gear is on, until September 5th and it’s well worth the trip to Green Park tube and the heat of Piccadilly to see it.

Gear exhibited with CoBra in 1949 – he and Stephen Gilbert were the only British artists – but I have to say, I don’t think he has a lot in common with painters like Appel; his work strikes me as much more like Adrian Heath, Bryan Wynter and even sometimes Patrick Heron, than the wilder, thicker, more gestural products of Appel and Jorn.  There is one painting, however, “Le Marche aux Fleurs” (1947), which could easily have been an early Jorn.

There are several recurring features of Gear’s work, the most prominent, perhaps, being the tangled bundle of jagged, hooked, thorn-like shapes he seemed to fling across his canvases, so that the patches of bright colour seem to peep out through a thicket of scrub.  The shapes are often, but not always, black.  Gear isn’t afraid of yellow; he uses a full spectrum, but it’s the yellow and black that stay with you after the Redfern.

Triangular grids are another feature, and there are a number of works like “Black Form on Red”(1957), that comprise two or three colours used in large, simple shapes, looking rather like sheets of thin leather or felt, collaged onto the canvas – Poliakoff, maybe, or Burri.  An influence that is suggested in the catalogue is that of Nicolas de Stael – I couldn’t see that, I have to say.

gear redfern 3

Good exhibition, in association with the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, where Gear was the curator in the 60s.  There was a great black, thorny self-portrait on show at the Pallant House in Chichester recently; maybe its still there.  made me think of Tony Bevan, a bit.

gear redfern 2

Joseph Cornell at the RA

cornell 1

This is an exhibition for those, and there are many of them apparently, who like quaint objects and photographs displayed in shallow boxes.  Inevitably, there is a large overlap with the likes of Max Ernst, Rene Magritte and other European surrealists; the difference being that, whereas Ernst, for example, also painted and sculpted, Cornell stuck to the box formula permanently.  Clearly, he had a thing for parrots and cockatoos; his work goes completely against the grain of North American art of the time (40s and 50s) in two ways – it’s small and it’s in boxes.  Although there were later, feminist, artists in the states who put things in drawers and boxes to display them – not parrots, though, as I recall….

cornell2

The Swimmer, Frank Perry (1968) DVD

I think John Cheever’s short story is a masterpiece of the form, one of the best of the 20th century; hard to think of others so perfect, maybe a couple of Joyce’s Dubliners or Margaret Atwood’s Serpent’s Egg.  The film is also a work of art, though very much of its era (Hamlisch’s lush theme music, coupled with jagged Johnny Staccato jazz riffs and some eye -watering psychedelic visuals).  Burt Lancaster is brilliant as the ageing playboy Ned Merrill, in his budgie smuggler trunks, swimming home across the county, by way of the “river” of swimming pools of his “friends”.  Lancaster is by turns genuinely creepy and strangely sympathetic, despite his insensitivity. The pools are not there for freeloading swimmers to propel their sweaty bodies through.

 

The Longest Journey, EM Forster

Even though I’m currently re-reading “Finnegans Wake”, Forster’s book is the strangest, most difficult novel I’ve struggled through for ages; I had to keep going back and reading bits over again to make sense of it.  the problem is twofold – the language: very arch, ironic, riddled with Edwardian Oxbridge phraseology and slang – and the concerns; “love children”, family disgrace, inheritance, the intellect v. the physical, the prosaic v.the poetic, genetic flaws, town and country, social class… Actually, that’s quite a lot and I’m sure I missed plenty.

I was interested to see that Forster kills his characters  in an even more offhand way than Virginia Woolf; a “hurt” at football, a drowning and a steam train across the knees- the last completely unsignalled (sorry) and dispassionate: “It is also a man’s duty to save his own life, and therefore he tried.  The train went over his knees.  He died up in Cadover, whispering “You have been right,” to Mrs Failing”.  That’s it.

 

finsbury mud 2

 

Finsbury Mud 2,

Blackpaint

08.08.15

 

Blackpaint 403 – Gunslinging, Carbon and the Dummy Chamber

July 11, 2013

Sam Francis

I’ve been reading “Pacific Standard Time, LA Art 1945-1980” and I’ve been surprised to find that Francis did some Minimalist paintings as well as “happenings” in later 60s, like skiers with coloured smoke flares in Japan and “Helicopter Sky Painting”, again with smoke flares, also in Japan.  Buy the book if you can find it; it’s great.  Published by Tate.

Artists and guns

As well as Niki de Sainte Phalle, other artists used firearms in their work; Joe Goode produced a “Shotgun” series. in which he fired pellets at his canvases to reveal lower layers of paint – and Chris Burden staged a performance in 1971 called “Shoot”, in which a friend shot him in the arm with a .22 bullet from 15 feet.

A Field in England (cont.)

I’ve seen a couple of reviews since last blog and watched the film again; I missed the Western nature of the final shoot-out completely.  Seems unmissable now, when you see the big hats, dark cloaks, bloody wounds.  To make it even more obvious to me, the film that clocked in as the recording came to an end was “Chato’s Land” – like a continuation in colour!  Later, I caught the last shoot-out in Michael Winner’s 1971 “Lawman”.  Cold-eyed Terminator Burt Lancaster leaving three cowboys dead in the dust, including one shot in the back whilst trying to run away; the pathetic suicide of Lee J Cobb, on seeing the death of his son moments before.  Somehow colder and more depressing than “Unforgiven”, or “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid”, films which explore similar or comparable themes – is that down to Winner or Lancaster?

Since I’m on about Westerns, I have to mention “Charge at Feather River” which was on recently, because it was the first film I ever saw, in 3D, back in 1953 – lances coming towards you, repeated three times at least – but also because it was based on the Battle of Beecher’s Island, in which, in 1868,  the Cheyenne chief Roman Nose was killed, besieging a small cavalry force under Colonel Forsythe ; (see the Buffalo Bill Annual 1951).

buffalo bill

And Trooper Wilhelm, a minor character who died early on in the film battle, provided the name for the “Wilhelm Scream”.  This was a recorded death scream, originating from the film “Distant Drums”, when a character was killed by an alligator. George Lucas used the Scream in “Star Wars” apparently.  The screamer was Sheb Woolley, who died recently – not by alligator action – and who recorded “The (one-eyed, one-horned, flying) Purple People Eater”; yes, I’ve got it, on 78.

“C” by Tom McCarthy

The rather highbrow book group to which I belong chose this to read and discuss.  Why shouldn’t I be a member of such a group?  Look at the credentials I have displayed in the last couple of paragraphs.  The others are into French theory, though; Deleuze gets mentioned quite a lot; I keep my head down at these moments.

The book embraces, amongst other things, the breeding of silkworms and the manufacture of silk, early radio technology, pre-war European spas and medical thought, WW1 observer pilots, drug culture and seances in 1920s London, spying, and Egyptology – so a lot of research, which is convincing for the most part, if a bit tiresome at times.  The theme is connectivity, everything resembling something else,  being a metaphor or analog for something else, melting or morphing into something else; the C of the title is carbon, the stuff of life and matter (as well, no doubt, as cocaine, communication and loads of other C’s).

There’s one thing that puzzles me – the dummy chamber.  McCarthy explains, through a character,  that Egyptians built dummy chambers in their tombs to fool grave robbers into thinking they’d found the real thing,  As the main character in the novel progresses through a delirious, sub- Joycean dream sequence in which the connectivity thing is made explicit, he cries out “The Dummy Chamber!”, implying that there’s something beyond the merging, morphing, connecting thing…  Maybe he’s going for a Moby-Dick, whale of a book, here-comes-everybody-and-everything-type of reception.

??????????

??????????

??????????

??????????

 

OK, no more life drawings after today – will have some proper paintings by next blog.

Urban Art, Josephine Avenue, Brixton SW2, Saturday and Sunday 13th and 14th July. Art in the street, come and see.  Easy access to Brixton tube from Heathrow, if you’re flying in from USA, Oz, NZ, Ukraine, Brazil……

Blackpaint

11.07.13