Posts Tagged ‘DH Lawrence’

Blackpaint 461- Pablo and Francis, Will and George and Gustav

September 7, 2014

Bacon and Picasso

It occurred to me while looking at Picasso in Tate Modern that the shapes of some of Bacon’s nudes are very much like those of Picasso – that is, you could paint out the flesh in the Bacons and substitute a matt cream, or light green or blue and you’d have a Picasso.. sort of…  Take a look below, to see what I mean:

bacon nude 1

picasso nude 1


bacon nude 3



0picasso nude 2


You could “Picasso” the Bacons and “Bacon” the Picassos, so to speak.  So what? you might ask – and you’d be right.  Incidentally, if you Google “Bacon Nudes”, the selection of pictures you get is much more varied and interesting than “Picasso Nudes”…

Bright Lights, Brilliant Minds (BBC4)

I watched the James Fox prog on Vienna last night (on Catch Up); he mentioned the high suicide rate amongst young Viennese intellectuals in the pre-WW1 years – the programme centred on the year 1908 – which reminded me of the recent RA exhibition “Making Faces”, on the same place and general period.  Neither the exhibition, as I recall it, nor Fox, offered any explanation of this phenomenon, however.

One picture that cropped up in the Fox programme was the stupendous Klimt below:

klimt 2

Portrait of Fritza Riedler, Gustav Klimt

Will Self on Orwell

I have to say I think Self is right about Orwell’s rules on good writing; they are ridiculously restrictive and would exclude Joyce, Woolf and DH Lawrence for a start.  Probably Self too, but I haven’t read anything of his, apart from a couple of articles in the Observer; I can’t be bothered to be looking up every tenth word.  Is Orwell’s writing “mediocre”?  Surely not; he’s always a positive pleasure to read (except for the Goldstein document in Nineteen Eighty-Four and a couple of other stretches of politics, in “Homage to Catalonia” for instance) and even where there are weaknesses, they don’t strike you while you are reading.  For my money, “Burmese Days” and “Coming up for Air” are excellent,”A Clergyman’s Daughter” and “Aspidistra” are at least very good, with brilliant bits (the hop picking in “Daughter”, for instance).  “Animal Farm” is just about perfect as allegory, notwithstanding TS Eliot’s remarks about the pigs; and “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is a tightly written, thrilling and absorbing novel, quite apart from its importance as a critique of totalitarianism.  I’ve read it three or four times, like all of Orwell’s published novels and essays, and still found it gripping.  I can’t say that for any other writers, except Joyce.

I referred to “Homage to Catalonia” – there’s a point in that book where Orwell says he’s about to launch into a chapter on the details of Spanish politics and tells the reader that he can skip to the next chapter if he wishes, without loss of continuity.  I realised with amusement that I read a similar directive years ago – in “The Ka of Gifford Hillary”, a supernatural thriller set in WW2, by Dennis Wheatley.  Wheatley does a 40 -or -so page  detour into the world of British Intelligence, telling the reader, like Orwell, to skip.  I think their politics differed more than slightly, however.

Far From the Madding Crowd (John Schlesinger, 1967)

I watched this again, over a couple of late nights, and I have to say, like Ken Russell’s “Women in Love”, it’s just about perfect; the cast (Stamp, Bates, Christie, Finch), location, adaptation, music, that staggering Dick Turpin performance in the circus ring…




Derby Ram







Blackpaint 450 – Pantomime Horses, the Royal Messenger and the Cornish Caves

June 13, 2014

Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood and Alfred Wallis at Dulwich Picture Gallery  

This follows on nicely from the exhibition at Tate St.Ives; Winifred is the star for me, in this early period, which more or less finishes when Ben began to do his geometric abstracts.  His paintings feature some rather irritating pantomime horses, not quite with the knees pointing the wrong way, but nearly.  Also, he seems to have nicked some sailing ships from Alfred Wallis.  The style is termed faux-naive, and it strikes a false note with me. for sure.

Winifred’s still lifes of flowers strike me as bearing a slight resemblance to Paul Nash, not so much content as surface and hue.  There are also two portraits, one of a family looking out at the viewer and one of a father tending to a child.  In addition to Nash, there is a hint of Stanley Spencer and perhaps, in the baby, Wallis and Gromit.


Anyway, there’s a fine triangular Wallis of ships passing before icebergs, and Ben Nicholson’s rather shabby first abstraction, which has a charm of its own.  Still the best Winifred I’ve seen, though, is the Window Sill at Lugano, which is at the Tate St.Ives show.  The colours remind me of the great de Kooning poster which is in the Member’s Room of the Tate Modern.  Can’t find the DK painting in any of my books; maybe its a detail.

winifred nicholson

Winifred Nicholson

Tate St. Ives

Some paintings and sculptures from the current show that I didn’t mention last week:

Riopelle, Perspectives

Little ingots of white and black paint massed together in his usual style against areas of deep, cold blue and dark red.




A human torso, half legs and arms, spread out like an animal carcase.

Hepworth, Torso

Beautiful bust of a heavy- hipped woman.

hepworth torso


Lanyon, Turn Around

One of several intriguing box-type constructions.

Turn Around 1963-4 by Peter Lanyon 1918-1964


Niki de Saint Phalle, Dracula

Hard to describe, so here’s a picture –


National Gallery 

A couple more things to look out for in the newly opened basement gallery (wednesdays and Sundays):

The Battle of Valmy

That poor hussar lying dead on his back, with a cannonball hole in his breastplate – why has he got no boots on?


The Madonna and Child – I think it’s in the style of Duccio.

Dubufe – the Surprise

Wonder what it is?



DH Lawrence, the White Peacock

I was going on last week about how Lawrence larded every page of this, his first novel, with nature description.  On reflection, I think its more than just the urge to describe; I think nature is almost another “character” in the narrative – it is stitched in to frame and echo the unfolding of the story in a way that transcends simple scene-setting; but I’m often wrong.

Orwell, Animal Farm

There’s a lovely passage in Crick’s biography, worth quoting in full:

“When Queen Elizabeth, whose literary adviser was Osbert Sitwell, sent the Royal Messenger to Secker and Warburg for a copy in November, he found them utterly sold out and had to go with horse, carriage, top hat and all, to the anarchist Freedom Bookshop, in Red Lion Street, where George Woodcock gave him a copy”.

The Killer Inside Me

Michael Winterbottom film from a Jim Thompson novel, starring Casey Affleck as a psychopathic deputy sheriff in Texas 50s and Jessica Alba as his prostitute girlfriend, who he beats to death quite coldly as part of a double murder, when it suits him.  Later, he does the same thing to his fiancee.  A horrible film, with two repulsive sequences – possibly three – which I found very compelling too; had to watch it to the end.  Maybe there’s something wrong with me.  Affleck is brilliant; you want to beat him to death.


Cornish Cave Painting 3



What the Landscape Became

Blackpaint 13/06/14

Blackpaint 448 – Theory, Violence, Horror, and Nature

May 29, 2014

Theory and Non – Theory (cont.)

Since last week’s blog and my (defensively) sarcastic comments about the French and French/Algerian masters of critical theory, I have discovered Paul Strathern and his potted guides, “Derrida in an hour” etc.  Fantastic.  I’ve done Derrida, Foucault, Wittgenstein and have Heidegger lined up; what Strathern needs to do is to get his finger out and do Barthes, Baudrillard, Lyotard, Deleuze and one or two others, then I’ll be OK for my book group next time.  Trouble with the group is that if you want to hold your end up, you have to read not only the scheduled book, but every other book in the world that has any bearing on the subject.  I can’t hope to do that but maybe can fake it with Strathern’s help.

Comics Unmasked, British Library


(Not the Jonah on show, but gives you an idea)

The best work on display in my view is a Beano spread from the early 60s, I guess, of Ken Reid’s fantastic ” Jonah”.  This is so busy and full of energy that it practically moves on the page as you peer at it.  Also very striking was “Gwendoline”, and the Rupert Bear and the Gypsy Grandma  from the International Times, or maybe Oz – delicacy prevents me from description.  For some reason, R Crumb was omitted altogether??? and there was only one Posy Simmonds, a page of  “Tamara Drewe”.  Despite the graphic sex, the most shocking cartoon for me (although I have the book in which it was published) was Reg Smythe’s Andy Capp, reproduced below:


This was presumably first published in the Daily Mirror, before inclusion in the collection I own.  Private Eye, I remember, used to run a strip by Bill Tidy, The Cloggies, in which there was a character called  “The Blagdon Amateur Rapist.”  Can’t remember when, but I guess well into the 70s, maybe later.

There are many other treasures and I strongly recommend the exhibition. I got a great compendium of early 50s US horror comics too; “The Horror, the Horror!” by Jim Trombetta, £20 and well worth it.

DH Lawrence, The White Peacock

Lawrence’s first novel, in which the action is beset throughout by great wodges of nature description; we know at all times what the lapwings, clouds, forget-me-nots, brooks and grasses are doing.  This seems a common syndrome with first novels; Almayer’s Folly by Conrad and Orwell’s Burmese Days both have the same characteristic, not necessarily a fault, in my view; I think Orwell brings it off well.

The Lawrence has a more amusing fault; the narrator is one of the characters, yet he is “all-knowing”.  He tells us what his sister Lettie says and does explains that with her suitor George when they are off alone in the woods, for instance.  I wonder how common this error is in literature; I can’t offhand think of any other examples, yet it struck me immediately in “Peacock”.

Clark at Tate Britain

Here are the Seurats in the Clark exhibition:

seurat clark 1

seurat clark 2

I think the first one is usually in the National Gallery – but the second is new to me.

Asger Jorn – Restless Rebel

New book on Jorn, essays on various periods.  It’s great of course – below, Jorn in his studio.

jorn in studio


And here’s my latest effort, which turned into a landscape when I put it on its side.  I hate it and will vandalise it with green and blue paint as soon as I publish this.