Posts Tagged ‘Courbet’

Blackpaint 588 – Fundamental! Wolfie and Hockers at the Tates

February 27, 2017

Wolfgang Tillmans, Tate Modern

Huge blown-up photos on the walls, but also desktops full of his “snaps” (and pro-Remain, anti-Brexit propaganda posters/leaflets he presumably produced).  He calls each room an “installation”, the nature of which he expounds in the booklet, to avoid explanations on the walls.  My favourite below:

 

tillmans-1

Try to see that right arm and hand as a leg and foot and you get a totally different image…

Additionally, you can see –

A drainpipe and drainhole, with water running down through soggy litter; an amazing starscape over a dark hillside; a male bumhole close-up; a close-up of a vagina which appears to be that of a transsexual, judging by the hairy legs (echo of the famous Courbet picture); several large, beautiful colour field abstracts, red and ochre mainly, recalling Hoyland or more, Diebenkorn’s desert colours combined with his Ocean Park structures; crystalline car headlight; that strange shape of the swimmer picking his foot; enormous, rather touching blow-ups of delicate weeds sprouting in his backyard – and a simple image of a man in a blue T shirt, that is startlingly clear and 3D, when looked back on through the arch, from a short distance – try it.  And, of course, those great ones of pigment threads, slowly floating and whirling in fluid.  Great exhibition; Tillmans can find beauty in strange places – drains, for example.  Not sure about the other apertures.

Hockney, Tate Britain

After the big RA Hockney exhibition of 2012, I was expecting a bit of deja-vu; there was a bit, but I was surprised at how informative and enjoyable the Tate show is.  I’ve been twice, on a Saturday and a Thursday, and both times, the Tate was rammed with white-haired, retired schoolteacher types, along with the tourists and students.  Hockney is definitely a Treasure of Middle England, comparable, I guess, to Alan Bennett in his fanbase.

I reckon there are about ten or twelve different “sections”, some of them being distinct phases in his painting, others different areas of activity; here’s my breakdown of the show:

  • The earliest real Hockneys from the early 60s – textured, splashy paint, cartoon boys, areas of raw linen, words and letters (cf.Johns), jokey content – Boys Together, Typhoo Tea, toothpaste, the boys speeding towards Italy (see below).  I can’t get away from seeing a similarity to Bacon in the brushwork, splatters and bare surfaces here, if not the content (although one of the shower ones could be).

hockney-italy

Flight to Italy

  • Next, the Kitaj-like ones, where Hockney makes well-drawn, naturalistic figures, often alongside flat cartoon characters (see below).  Various palm tree and pyramid pieces, chaps in pants on bed or in shower.

Hockney, David; Man in a Museum (or You're in the Wrong Movie); British Council Collection; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/man-in-a-museum-or-youre-in-the-wrong-movie-176794

Man in a Museum (You’re in the Wrong Movie)

  • Swimming pools, snakey surface reflections, Bigger Splash of course.
  • A roomful of drawings, from early “cartoons” through beautifully, sparingly executed portraits, Kitaj, Kasmin etc.
  • Raw red USA desert canyons and Yorkshire Dales – hills and winding roads, flattened against invisible glass of the surface, shining with vivid colours, which I thought were a bit much in 2012, but I see from a TV film on Hockney last night are pretty accurate.  That one of hawthorn trees with maggot blossoms and the Van Gogh pink and grey sky..
  • A room of beautifully drawn but underwhelming drawings of woodland scenes.
  • The static portraits of Ossie Clark, Celia Birtwell, Henry Geldzahler, Hockney’s parents  et al; they recall della Francesca in the respect that the characters appear self-absorbed, or at least, uninvolved with each other.  There is a della Francesca on the wall behind Geldzahler, Baptism of Christ, I think.
  • Piercingly psychedelic verandahs, blue with red flowerpots, overlooking fiercely green lawns.  Those flowerpots really cut through.
  • A roomful of his composite videos of wood and meadowland in different seasons, taken by a battery of cameras from a moving car.
  • Ipad drawings and pictures he has worked up from them.
  • The psychedelic woods and landscapes from the 2012 exhibition.

I like the early stuff best, but it’s an impressive body of work, to understate the case.

To finish, a series of quick life drawings done with a brush and black acrylic.  Picasso at Barcelona next time.

 

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woman-with-fan2

woman-with-fan3

 

woman-with-fan4

 

woman-with-fan5

 

woman-with-fan6

Woman with Fan, 1 – 6

Blackpaint

26/2/17

 

 

 

Blackpaint 525 – Tight Rope, Frenzy and Sex in Gothenberg

December 20, 2015

Tight Rope, White Cube Gallery, Bermondsey Street

This is a great exhibition; it has to do with artists who walk the line between figurative and abstract, I think (I haven’t read the book that goes with it yet – £20.00) – whatever, it has some lovely pictures from the likes of Guston, Bacon, Freud, Baselitz, Matisse, Duchamp et al.   It has one of the worst Picassos I’ve ever seen ( horrible, evil yellow with scrawls) and a terrific Tracey Emin figure on white over two or three panels.  My favourites below, starting with the great Bay Area painter David Park:

david park

Untitled (Portrait of Tom Jefferson), 1957

 

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Magnus Plessen, Untitled, 2015

Plessen seems to have used tape which he has pulled off to get the straight lines.

 

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Michael Armitage, Conservationists, 2015

 

Here’s the Emin –

tracey

Tracey Emin, I think of you all the time

 

– and here’s the Picasso –

picasso mustache

Picasso, Man with a Mustache, 1970

Despite the Picasso, there are loads of excellent pictures here.  Even the ones I didn’t like – Dana Schulz’ retina-burners, for example – made me want to go home and paint immediately; those chunky but slippery brush sweeps, I imagine.

Also on show there are Gilbert and George’s “Fuck You” posters (that’s probably not their proper title, but gives an idea of the content).  Should detain you for a minute or so, long enough to read them all.

 

John Berger on Rembrandt and Goya

I’m reading Berger’s “Portraits – John Berger on Artists” and I find him insufferably precious at times – “It is remarkable how, for those who suffer a desire for art, so much does begin and end in it” (the National Gallery).  He also tends to make confident assertions about doubtful things.  There are examples throughout, but here’s one: “Goya lived and observed through something near enough to total war to know that night is security and that it is the dawn that one fears”; is that really right?  It fits his argument..

However, his comments on Rembrandt’s late self-portraits are interesting; he suggests that R. painted himself from memory, rather than using mirrors – thus avoiding the theatricality that Berger says always creeps in when artists do mirror SPs.  Have a look at the Courbet SP “The Desperate Man” to see what he means.

courbet

OK, it’s an extreme example.  Berger also suggests that Goya painted “the Naked Maja” from imagination – he simply did the clothed Maja without the clothes.  In evidence, he offers the breasts; falling unnaturally to the sides as they had done when she was dressed.  That’s what Berger says, anyway.

Frenzy

Hitchcock’s murder film on TV the other night; the cast was staggering, straight off the Shakespearian stage of the 70s – Jon Finch, Anna Massey, Billie Whitelaw, Clive Swift, Barry Foster et al.  The lewd conversation between barristers and the pub landlady about rape comes as quite a shock to contemporary ears and there is a very nasty rape sequence later.  Great bit in the back of the potato lorry, however.

Star Wars – film critics

They’ve all abandoned their critical faculties; not worth listening to (as I write, Mark Kermode is on TV, shouting and waving his arms about).

Casanova

Fellini, Donald Sutherland in the title role, having sex with a mechanical life-sized doll in Gothenburg, a debauched Dudley Sutton playing a harmonium halfway up a wall…  Now, that’s what I call a film.

 

dirty protest2

I’ve finally finished a picture – here it is; it’s called

Dirty Protest

Blackpaint

19.12.15

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).

 

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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.

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 July Heat, Frank Phelan

 

 

And one of mine, to end with-

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Slink Away

Blackpaint, 15.12.2014 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 427 – Sources of Light, Crime and Punishment

December 26, 2013

Light Sources in Painting

Still reading Morton Feldman’s articles in “Give My Regards to Eighth Street”,  which are full of interesting assertions (backed by no evidence whatsoever) about painting and music.  As a composer, he can claim to be an expert; he knew many of the Abstract Expressionists, spent time with them at the Cedar Tavern, so can claim expertise there, too.  Here is what he says about light in painting; I haven’t investigated fully – see if you agree:

“Light from nature

raking light: Caravaggio, Vermeer

overhead light: Watteau, Courbet, Pissarro

refracted light: Monet

intellectualised light: Seurat

Pictorial light, not from nature

constructed light: Giotto, Mantegna, Picasso, de Chirico

invented light: Piero della Francesca, Rothko

non modulated light: Mondrian, Pollock

light without source: Rembrandt”

I reproduce some paintings by these artists; you can check the light.

caravag1

 

Caravaggio – raking light?  Yes, from left.

verm2

 

Vermeer – right again.  That is – from the left.

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Courbet – above?

rem1

 

Rembrandt – light without source?

I’ll look at some more next blog.

Team Nigella

After writing about Citizen Kane last week, I remembered that Kane (Hearst) was proud of making the news, not just reporting it.  A number of lesser examples of the same have been provided by the leftish press recently – no doubt the right-wing press do it all the time, but I don’t read them.  The Guardian and the Observer tend to be self-righteous about distortion, so these are the examples I offer:

David Cameron did not say he was on “Team Nigella” – he agreed with a reporter who used the term.  Little thing maybe, but I think it’s different.

He did not announce that it was “Mission Accomplished” for British troops in Afghanistan; the phrase was suggested by a reporter, and he agreed to it in a strictly limited definition (preparing the Afghan army to defend the country from the Taliban).  What else would he say?   “I’m bringing them home, job not done, leaving the Afghans in the lurch”?

An Observer headline stated that the Bulgarian PM had “issued a fierce” condemnation of the government’s attitude towards EU immigration; in fact, the paper was referring to remarks he had made in the course of an “exclusive” interview with the paper (presumably at the request of the Observer).  That’s not what I would call “issuing”.

The Desolation of Smaug

Serious signs of padding in this latest 3 hour stretch of a trilogy sort of based on Tolkein’s children’s book; brilliant battle scenes, great Orcs and the introduction of an Elf woman-warrior called Tauriel, who isn’t a real character – that is, she’s made up by the film writers, not Tolkein.  I was impressed by the dragon, until the final close-up of its face, when I got a flash of the original “Night of the Demon”, a film I love, but one in which the demon is not wholly convincing.  Left the cinema with my 3D specs on again, as in Gravity.

Dekalog

From the ridiculous to the – not sublime, but serious anyway.  Watched Dekalog 5, which is actually Kieslowsky’s “A Short Film about Killing”; only an hour long, I think, but it lingers.  A youth in 80s Poland strangles and beats a taxi driver to death in a protracted sequence, is condemned to death and hanged on screen.  The hanging takes place in the execution shed, there is a drop of only a couple of feet, a tray has been placed at the bottom of the pit to catch urine; the hangman’s assistant shouts and yells repeatedly in the seconds before the lever is pulled, presumably to confuse and distract the victim.  The taxi driver is portrayed as sleazy; he propositions a young girl.  He avoids picking up customers he doesn’t fancy taking; if he’d done his job properly, he wouldn’t have picked up the murderer…

Homeland

And another hanging.  I must admit I was surprised, shocked even, when Brody was hanged on a crane in Tehran.  Even though the execution was public, I was expecting some ruse by which he survived and escaped – such is the conditioning of TV.

 

??????????

 

On the Way to Somewhere

Blackpaint

Boxing Day, 26th December 2013.

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