Posts Tagged ‘Caspar David Friedrich’

Blackpaint 473 – Big Babies, the Seven Dwarves and Dead Generals in Berlin

December 15, 2014

Gemaldegalerie, Berlin

This place is absolutely packed with masterpieces; it’s nearly as good as the National Gallery (but not quite).  About 5 or 6 Botticellis, including the following Virgin and Child with two saints – look at the grossly enormous baby; his head’s as big as her’s.  There’s another , Mary with Child and Singing Angels, with the most beautiful Mary, face outlined with a thin dark outline, like the Veroneses in the NG.  Couldn’t find a decent picture on line – it’s a tondo.

BotticelliVirginEnthronedx1Whole

 

Then there’s the Last Supper below – By the Master of the Housebook(?).  Jesus entertaining the Seven Dwarves – or rather nine.  Not sure who the two big ones are, nor what’s going on with the disciple on his lap.

 

dwarves last supper

 

A great Veneziano, Adoration of the Kings, featuring a huge white horse’s arse resembling a face…

veneziano germany

 

 

This great hairy Mary; can’t find the painter.

long-haired madonna

 

And so on, down through the centuries, to about 1800; Canaletto, Rembrandt, Rubens, Gainsborough.. no doubt I’ll be revisiting.

Alte Nationalgalerie

This is on Museum Island, in the old East Germany; massive classical building, beady-eyed, beetle-browed and suited old attendants, always behind you.  A roomful of Caspar David Friedrichs – becalmed ship, moon over forest, mountain with snow, solitary leafless, limbless tree, etc., etc. – usual Friedrich thing.  A clutch of Bocklins, including one of the Isles of the Dead, of course; a bunch of Liebermanns, some Corinths, and a host of really dark, depressing German rural scenes, peasants, cottages, landscapes…

There are several nice (because unfinished, partly) portraits, for instance the one of Mommsen below by von Lenbach.

mommsen

 

The artist who has more pictures featured than anyone else is Adolph Menzel.  All sorts of pictures – military ceremonies, concerts, troop reviews, interiors, portraits, landscapes, woodland – some are vast, the historical ones of course, some tiny.  There are some amazing horses’ heads from some very strange angles.

The most interesting pictures were his drawings of dead generals lying in state and of dead soldiers, following battles in the Prussian wars of the 1860s & 70s; definitely forerunners of Dix, although strangely, it’s the faces of the generals, faces fallen in, caves for eyes, that remind one of Dix, rather than the battlefield casualties (see below).

 

menzel2

 

menzel3

 

There are several French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings – Degas, Renoir, Cezanne – and it is immediately noticeable how the tone and the colour lightens; light seems to flood in.  The influence of the Med, maybe and the absence of enormous fir forests…

Some interesting pictures on the ground floor: a Courbet seascape, great, rolling cabbagy waves; a dark Goya, The Maypole; a lovely grey Constable; and  a couple of really unusual Beckmanns – one, “The Death Scene”, I think, similar to  Munch, with the paint “patted” on.  Also an even stranger de Chirico, nothing like his more well-known work.

Enough Berlin for now; Bauhaus Museum still to come, but I’ll leave that until next time.

Frank Phelan, Messums Gallery, Cork Street

New to me, a St.Ives painter I believe, though born in Dublin; I think his pictures are great.

phelan

 July Heat, Frank Phelan

 

 

And one of mine, to end with-

slink away

 

Slink Away

Blackpaint, 15.12.2014 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 222

November 22, 2010

Miro at the Tate Modern

From reviews, Miro’s show at the Tate Modern, like Picasso at Liverpool recently, seems to be an attempt to portray Miro as a political artist.  This claim largely rests (it appears) on the poster he did for the Republican cause (see Blackpaint 26, Jan 2010) and on a surreal painting  “Still Life with Old Shoe”, in which he shows an enormous fork, about to plunge down into an apple – apparently a subliminal reference to the impending outbreak of the Spanish civil war, according to curator Matthew Gale.  Gale says this shows he is not just about “whimsy”.  He also made a work which was a response to the execution by garotte of an anarchist activist, Puig Antich – in 1974.  I remember that horrible event – the victim is strapped to a board and a metal noose tightened around his neck until the spinal cord is severed – you didn’t have to be an activist to be horrified – everybody was.

Any Miro exhibition is good news, but why bother to transform someone plainly more interested in the politics of the psyche – in his art, anyway – into a political painter?  Miro doesn’t need the justification.

The Last Supper

I’ve checked on Google, and although most Last Suppers take the da Vinci form ( table lengthwise across picture, Christ central, disciples seated behind table in a line) there are a number of exceptions.  Tintoretto’s table slants from lower left to upper right and includes a number of servants in the lower right area, Palma de Vecchio, Dieric Bouts and Simon Vouet all show disciples round the table.  In Bouts’ stunning, serene picture, Christ sits at the top of the table.  This arrangement is used in Russian icons, one of which, from 1497, shows a round table.

I was rather surprised to come across a version by Andy Warhol, based on the da Vinci.

Caspar David Friedrich

I’ve been told I’m too kind to painters and should be more critical, so I’ve cast round to find one I really don’t like, and I’ve come up with the above.  After all, he’s dead and I’m hiding behind anonymity, so I can say what I like.  I saw Andrew Graham – Dixon’s item on Friedrich on the Culture Show last week, which was clearly an advert for AGD’s forthcoming series on German art and it confirmed my aversion.  Country crucifixes in the snow,  misty mountains, purple –  orange – green skies, thrown – away crutches, heroic/romantic figures staring out over mist-filled chasms or oceans, deserted, ruined monasteries, graveyards….

Well, there are two I like; the wreckage on the ice floe, forced up into the Tatlin tower shape and the little man on the beach with the great, threatening wall of fog or cloud rolling towards him.  It makes me think of John Carpenter’s “The Fog” – are there undead pirates concealed in it?

Leonardo

I like the way he illustrated the predicted effects of his war chariot, in the drawing of it with the blades on the wheel hubs; he has drawn dismembered bodies scattered around.  Well, yes, I suppose it would have that effect, wouldn’t it?

Quiz

Who painted himself as “a Tyro”?

Blackpaint

22.09.10

Blackpaint 184

August 29, 2010

Robinson again

(See Blackpaint 177).  Visiting the National Gallery again on Saturday, we noticed that the Cailey Robinson exhibition went on round the corner of the room and consisted of several more paintings than the two I mentioned before.  This should have been obvious, since the poster showed a different painting, but I missed it.  These other paintings were enormous and consisted firstly of processions of attractive, innocent young maids in hospital/orphanage/school uniform, trooping around the castle-like interior of an institutional building, set off by interesting lighting effects; and secondly, of groups of wounded WWI soldiers in “convalescence” uniforms (light blue with red flashes)  with the odd kilted Scottish soldier and picturesque veteran in foreign(?) kit for effect.

Again, the thin black outline was present around the figures, making them static, and calling to mind illustrators of the period, and earlier.  I checked to see if there were any of the random red dots I’d noticed on the sheep (see Blackpaint 177), but could find none.  My partner suggested I should look at Seurat’s writing, since this sounded like one  of his techniques – but I can’t see how they could have operated; too few, too small, too dispersed and random.

Interesting to me to see how a painter so technically proficient – these paintings are really huge and beautifully controlled – could produce works so lifeless.

Fakes Exhibition

Dropped in on this again, and this time, I was impressed by the awfulness of the fake Botticelli;  the faces were  staggeringly bad and worth the trip alone, for the laugh.  I didn’t mention last time the Caspar David Friedrich painting, which isn’t a fake but a copy of the original by CDF himself, they think.  One of those beautifully  painted  snowbound scenes, lonely, fir trees, woods..  This time, I looked a little more closely and saw the wooden crucifixion seen in the central grove.  A country shrine, then, and in the snow – a pair of abandoned crutches!  Clearly, sometimes it’s better to view from a distance and overlook the detail..

Tintoretto

This is getting really bad, as I am about to abuse yet another great painter.  Still, he’s dead and this is an anonymous blog and gratuitous abuse is one of the pleasures.  Anyway, fantastic Tintoretto St. George and even more fantastic “Milky Way” upstairs – and next to it, a vast, rough, black, Spanish- looking painting of Christ  washing his disciples’ feet; it’s terrible, isn’t it?  Or am I missing something?  I can’t believe that the same artist could produce this monstrosity and the Milky Way.  it must have been his studio, not him.

Moroni

Then another example on the way out, but not so bad; the great portrait of the rosy-cheeked blond woman with her pink, anxious eyes and the fantastic pink satin dress  – next to the boring, bearded officer in black with the thin legs and knobbly knees.  I suppose the sitter (or stander in these cases) must make  a difference to the outcome, but hard for me to credit they are by the same artist.

Oil Painting

My own results are, by way of contrast, at least consistent.  Chopped-up ridges, slabs, scrapes and scores, they are getting thicker and busier all the time; more and more claustrophobic.  The trouble is, the oil is so seductive, you want to S-Q-U-E-E-Z-E it straight on and then slice into it and squirl it about – ended up with green paint gloves on last night.

Road to Mandalay 2

Blackpaint

29.08.10