Posts Tagged ‘Dubuffet’

Blackpaint 486 – What’s Left of Cork Street and Singer Sargent at the NPG

March 14, 2015

Cork Street Galleries

Arriving at the RA on Thursday for the Diebenkorn, I found that it didn’t start until the weekend, so went round the remaining Cork Street galleries to see what was to be seen:

Allen Jones 

At the Redfern Gallery, a beautiful sketch of a headless woman that sent me looking for more on the net – couldn’t find more drawings though, other than sketches of dress designs.  Also at the Redfern, some lovely Adrian Heaths, John Wells, Paul Feiler, Roger Hilton.

At Waddington’s,  great Milton Avery, Dubuffet – an enormous statue of one of his black and white men – a couple of big Rauschenbergs and a great little messy Tapies, a bit like a miniature of Gillian Ayres’ big breakfast in Tate Britain (it’s not called that, but if you see it, you’ll see what I mean).

Richard Long –  Spike Island 

At Alan Cristea, some great Longs, prints on paper with aluminium support; two red swirling lines, reminiscent a little of the Twomblys in Tate Mod, and a brown one with dirty protest overtones, as if Jasper Johns had been imprisoned in the H blocks (look it up, younger reader) and joined in.

richard long

Carole Hodgson

At Flowers, some beautiful drawings – or paintings – of hulking, indistinct human forms blending into dark backgrounds; rather like Piper’s Welsh rockscapes.  Small, interlocking sculptures and some bigger ones, rolls of some stiffened paper and sacking mixture,  in ginger and rust colours.

Singer Sargent at the National Portrait Gallery

NOT full, as I had suspected, of loads of SS paintings normally on show in London; I only recognised Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth and the kids in the garden with the lanterns – all the rest were new to me and a good proportion were wonderful.  No-one can do white silks and satins like Sargent, with the exception of Millais maybe; Millais does a super realist rendition (see the Black Brunswicker below), Singer Sargent does a few strategic strokes.  His subjects often look as if they have turned towards a call and he has captured them with a snapshot; Madame Allouard – Jouan (below) is the best example.

sargent jouan

See also Madame Ramon Subercaseaux, turning to us from her seat at the piano, the black Franz Kline lines on her dress…

Madame Edouard Pailleron, the beautiful, but rather drained – looking redhead in the meadow (maybe its the outdoor location)…

Next to her, the staggering portrait of her children; the girl, about to step out of the canvas in her fancy white dress, the boy staring out with a strange intensity…

sargent children

 

The Rodin portrait – could be a Rembrandt…

sargent rodin

Vernon Lee; I know her from “the Virgin of the Seven Daggers” Corgi paperback from the early 60’s.  he did this in three hours according to the booklet…

sargent vernon lee

 

Robert Louis Stevenson and his Wife; Stevenson is walking out of the picture – Degas?  Sickert?

sargent stevenson

 

Self Portrait ; George V or maybe Tsar Nicholas II come to mind…

Edwin Booth; look at those hands! I’m always impressed by painters who give good hand.  For a laugh, I said to my partner he was John Wilkes Booth’s brother – wish I’d said it louder, it turns out he was...

sargent booth

Group with Parasols; composition like a Rubens sketch, colours totally different…

sargent parasols

And lots more – fabulous, beautiful exhibition; I’ll be going again.

This is the Millais I mentioned, by the way; check out that dress, as the young people say;

millais the black brunswicker

 

Deep End, Skolimowski

I know I’ve written about this before, but the swimming pool looks like something out of 1930s Yerevan (I imagine): all greens, blues and oranges that match Jane Asher’s hair…

deep end

And some life drawings to be going on with…

richard1

 

 

richard3 richard4 richard5 richard6

 

Blackpaint

14.03.15 

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Blackpaint 273

May 11, 2011

Ai Weiwei

I understand that the Tate Modern has “Release Ai Weiwei” in enormous letters on the outside of the building; if this was the case when I wrote, criticising the management, I hope they will accept my apologies.  I was up there the other day – Sunday, I think – and didn’t notice it; maybe it was on the other side.  Good to see two new exhibitions at Somerset House and Lisson Gallery and campaign for his release gaining momentum.

Tate Modern

The Rothkos are back in their central “temple” after being temporarily replaced by Agnes Martin and the bloody Austrians.  Looked a long while at the Dubuffet, “Busy Life” –  saw the boulder thing.  The figures, scattered at all angles, look as if they are scraped into rock.  Maybe this is because I saw Herzog’s “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” the other day (see 270).

Stanley Spencer

His “St. Francis Feeding the Birds” looks very much like a portrait of Mike Leigh in costume – unlikely, given the disparity of dates.  This brings me to today’s main theme, which is top ten portraits.  I have two lists of my favourites:  20th Century and pre – 20th century.

Portraits pre 20th Century

1.  Holbein – Thomas Cromwell.

2.  Holbein – Unknown Lady with Squirrel and Starling

3.  Velasquez – Pope Innocent X

4.  Rembrandt – self in age.  Any of them – but especially at the age of 63.

5.  Gainsborough – Mrs.  Siddons, or the Linley Sisters

6.  Leonardo – Lady with an ermine, Cecilia Gallerani (doesn’t the ermine resemble her?)

7.  Ingres – the landlady in the National Gallery.

8.  Goya – Duchess of Alba

9.  Salvatore Rosa – Self portrait.

10.  Whistler – Symphony in White no.2

20 th Century Portraits

1.  De Kooning – Marilyn Monroe.

2.  Marlene Dumas – Jule the Woman.  The red face.

3.  Francis Bacon – 3 studies of Muriel Belcher, or 3 studies of George Dyer.

4.  Gerhard Richter – Betty.

5.  Lucien Freud – Harry Diamond next to the Aspidistra – it’s called “Interior in Paddington”.

6.  Larry Rivers – David Sylvester.

7.  Frank Auerbach – all of them!

8.  Otto Dix – Von Harden

9.  Singer Sargent – Ena and Betty Wertheimer.  And, of course, Lady Agnew.

10.  Joyce’s father – Patrick Tuohy.

Bela Tarr (cont)

The accordion plays the melancholy, repetitive tune, while two drunken old men execute a dance by a snooker table, involving brandishing a chair.  A crowd of unshaven, capped, feral, moustached, semi-drunken men wait in a cobbled square; one forces spirits down the throat of a timid youth who is foolish enough to approach him.  The same youth comes eyeball to eyeball with a rotting, stinking whale in a huge wooden container in the same square – it resembles the recent Balka installation at the Tate Modern (container, not whale).  A drunken mob invades an asylum and lethargically beat the occupants with sticks, fists and feet.

The Banks of the Nile

Blackpaint

11.05.11

Blackpaint 146

June 4, 2010

Altdorfer/Elsheimer

Unfortunate names, these, as will become clear:  I’ve been doing a Tanning/Carrington with them (see Blackpaint 121, 122) and mixing them up.  Albrecht Altdorfer is the one who did the Battle of Issus – Alexander the Great a tiny figure on a white horse, in the middle of hordes of  soldiers – and Adam Elsheimer, the one who did the stoning of St. Stephen – the one in the NG of Scotland at Edinburgh, in which the kneeling Stephen very slightly resembles a cartoon character, Tintin perhaps.  My partner points out the more important artistic feature of the triangular structure formed partly by the ray of light from the angel.

Anyway, I discover from Wikipedia that they are about 100 years apart – Altdorfer 1480-1538, Regensburg and Elsheimer 1578-1610 (only 32), born Frankfurt but lived and worked in Rome.  Altdorfer apparently did the first “pure” European landscape in oils, Landscape with Footbridge, in 1518 – 20 (see Blackpaint 132, 133).  he also did an astonishing Birth of the Virgin, in which a posy of flying babies, cherubs, whatever, circle  in the air, hand in hand with angels, above said mother and baby.

I was surprised, too, to read in “Art of the 20th Century” (Taschen) that Altdorfer has been cited as a forerunner of  gestural painting, along with Turner, Kandinsky et al.  I can only think it’s because of his expressionistic skies and clouds and his willingness to ignore perspective and distort human figures – his figures tend to be extremely elongated, for instance.  On both these grounds, however, you would have to include El Greco too, surely.

The fact that Altdorfer, as a member of Regensburg town council, was implicated in the expulsion of the Regensburg Jews links him to another German, or rather Austrian, painter of the 20th century, albeit an amateur, or “failed” one. 

Abstraction

To return to painting, I think, in any examination of gesturalism or abstraction in European art you would have to include Arthur Melville’s little picture of 1889 (Blackpaint 139) – are there earlier examples of “pure” abstraction in British painting, or European painting, for that matter?  please comment, if you know. 

Surfaces

I love built-up surfaces,  done with paint, glue, sand, cement, sacking, slabs of stuff slatched down with a palette knife or just the hand and then scraped and  scratched – Fautrier, Dubuffet, Tapies, Burri, Sandra Blow, Jaap Wagemaker and, I  suppose, Asger Jorn too, as in “Proud, Timid One”.

Listening to Brooks and Dunn;

“I did my best, but her west was wilder than mine”.

Blackpaint

04.06.10

Blackpaint 109

April 13, 2010

Pompidou Centre (cont.)

The main collection at the Pompidou hasn’t changed that much since 2004, when I was last there: there are Matisses and Kandinskys throughout, or so it seems; a great collection of Fauves – Mat himself, Vlaminck, Dufy, Derain,Kees Van Dongen (love that name) painting everything blue and red and orange and green.  There is a line of lovely Laurent sculptures on an outside terrace amongst the tubular scaffolding; there is a room of Brauners and Lams, dominated by a huge Matta, looking from a distance like an Ab Ex and calling to me from a couple of rooms away – what was that unlikely story about Brauner getting blinded in one eye? see below, no pun intended – and the “usual” Legers and Gris(es) and Surrealists dotted throughout.

Highlights: 

  • Picassos.  As always in a room of Picassos, you get the impression that he has contemptuously dashed off a definitive, totally original, brilliantly coloured masterpiece in 30 minutes, then moved on impatiently to knock out another one to go on the opposite wall.  When he is hung with anyone else (except sometimes Matisse), your eye – well, mine anyway – is “sucked” straight to his work.
  • Two Matisses – a woman with a starched white blouse right at the start and a fabulous fiddler sketched in black, who looks about to start playing as you stare at him.
  • A room full of Rouaults (apologies for the accidental alliteration), most based on Les Fleurs du Mal, that are wonderful figure paintings in his black style, but that manage to glow in a way I’ve never noticed with his stuff before.
  • Two excellent de Staels, one with that typical squares-on-scraped-concrete feel, the other with big triangles of light green.
  • A Soulages in variable black with what looks like 5 white chalk lines horizontal across it – and next to it an Ad Reinhardt, a really BLACK painting, entitled “Ultimate Black No6”; it looks as if he is putting Soulages’ half-hearted effort in its place.
  • Burri and Fontana – sacking and slashes respectively.
  • A Pollock in swirling, broad black and white strokes (brush?).
  • Dubuffet; a couple of scraped surfaces with concealed figures and one big Aztec clown picture, as I have come to think of them.
  • Finally, and most memorable, a couple of Bonnards – beautiful golden-browns, fiery oranges and whites, colours that burn and glow, the nude woman leaning against the bath in what seems the most natural and relaxed pose – but of course, if you think about it, totally unnatural!  Fabulous, ravishing pictures.  Why no Taschen book on Bonnard?  The Phaidon is terrible; the colours are dead, especially the browns.   

Brauner

For those who don’t know it, the Brauner story is briefly told in Sarane Alexandrian’s “Surrealist Art”.  In 1938, he was accidentally blinded in the left eye by a bottle thrown during a brawl by Oscar Dominguez; since 1931, he had been painting figures “with horns coming out of their eyes, and others who looked in despair at an eye which had been plucked out….. in 1932, in “Mediterranean landscape”, and in 1935, in “Magic of the seashore”, he had shown himself with his eye pierced by an instrument with the letter D, Dominguez’ initial, on its handle”. (p.113, Surrealist Art, Thames and Hudson 1995).

Trying to keep the blog down to 500 words, so Musee d’Orsay and Museum of Modern Art tomorrow.

After the galleries, sat on the roof cafe with my partner, drinking beer, on a golden evening, looking out over the gargoyles on a nearby church that was possibly Notre Dame, with a single rose in a vase on the table and “Un Homme et une Femme” playing.  All together now: “Naa – Naa…na-na-na-na-Na, na-na-na-na-na-Na…” Two beers cost 12 Euros.

PS – The Shobdon Tympanum (see Blackpaint 17 and 106) depicts “Christ in majesty”, surrounded by whirling angels – so not a mystery woman in striped T shirt after all (Google Shobdon-arches for more).

Blackpaint

13.04.10

Blackpaint 42

January 18, 2010

Royal Academy Exhibition

I thought I’d have a crack at this, this year, never having tried before.  I didn’t realise they had themes – this years is as follows:

” Raw”

Selectors “wish  to ‘cut to the chase’ and take a look behind the exterior of the pristine; to address the properties of the materials and the working finger prints left in pursuit of curiosity. Raw can be stark, natural, unrefined, honest, bleak, tender and new.”  They want ” candour beyond disguise”.

Well, I should have no problem with “stark, natural, unrefined” and “bleak” – “tender and new” might be a bit of a stretch though – and as for honest… 

It got me thinking about which artists’ work might fit these descriptors.  I would have said Franz Kline; his stuff is certainly stark, and some might say bleak – but then it turns out to have been highly considered and prepared, so you couldn’t call it unrefined.  Other “gestural” painters – Wols, Mitchell, Pollock – sometimes have the appearance, at first sight, of rawness or spontaneous improvisation; but a few minutes consideration are enough to reveal the care, planning, and controlled delicacy of most of their work. 

The painters I would choose are Karel Appel, Dubuffet and (some, but by no means all) Asger Jorn.  Some of Dubuffet’s stuff appears quite literally scraped raw – for instance, the one in Tate Modern where you pick out the figures – and that goes also for the two Jorns, “Proud Timid One” with its scraped surface, and the other one with the little globular people looking out at you.  Virtually all of Appel’s fabulous paintings are great swirls of thickly applied, fresh, blinding colour.  Giacometti drawings are another example, I suppose, in the sense that they are worked and reworked and built up, and of course, Auerbach.

There is a problem here of course, in the sense that these artists produce “raw” work in appearance – the “fingerprints” are left in, the properties of the materials are exploited – but you couldn’t really call their work raw in any other sense.  Auerbach’s, famously,  is very “cooked”, gone over and over again, erased and redone umpteen times.  Again, we see that an “unrefined” appearance is often very deceptive – and these terms that seem so straightforward at first, are quite problematic.

Listening to Frank Sinatra with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, doing “Begin the Beguine”;

“So don’t let them begin the Beguine, don’t let them play;

Let the spark that was once a fire remain an ember…”

Hard, raw swing with brash, blaring brass and a hard -edged, yearning, perfect vocal.

Blackpaint

18.o1.10