Posts Tagged ‘Duccio’

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.

.winifred-nicholson-father-and-son-19271

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.

Perspectives-Jean-Paul-Riopelle-1956

 

Frink

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 –

niki_de_saint_phalle_dracula

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?

valmy

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

Dubufe – the Surprise

Wonder what it is?

dubufe-surprise-NG457-fm

 

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

Advertisements

Blackpaint 309

November 30, 2011

Bacon – the Sylvester interview

I’ve been watching that amazing sequence on the Bacon Arena DVD, where Sylvester, lighting one fag from the butt end of another, questions Francis in a probing manner whilst the two of them are lying on a divan bed – Sylvester in one of those white detective raincoats!  There’s plenty of space between them, but Sylvester keeps moving closer and blowing smoke around Bacon’s face.  Just like Peter Cook or a Python sketch.

In an odd way, Bacon’s painting sometimes reminds me of De Kooning – the pinks and oranges, maybe, and the brushwork sometimes.  We use a Duccio postcard as a bookmark in the De Kooning book and it matches perfectly, as far as colour goes.

Pollock – Art of America;

Andrew Graham-Dixon’s new series on US art (America means North America, in this case); he looked at Lavender Mist, I think, and a few others, and said something like; “It’s all very well to look at Pollock’s paintings and admire them – but we have to explain them”.  Why??  He then went on to say that he saw chaos in them – but that’s nonsense, isn’t it?  They are full of harmonies, the colours and shapes recur and echo each other in all the “drip” paintings; there’s surely an overall impression of control in them – he said that there was virtually no accident in them, he mastered the dripping and the only chance element occurred in the fall of a few inches between the end of the stick and the surface of the canvas.  I suppose they looked like chaos at the time, but not now.

Rosenquist

Interesting that James Rosenquist, who started in advertising, painting billboards, said in Art of America that he hated the images he produced for adverts – the images that he used in his artworks were supposed to demonstrate the emptiness of advertising and hence his contempt.  Strange that the slick images and finish that he uses in his huge pictures are the thing that he is prized for.

Bela Tarr

Last blog, I mentioned an interview in which he was asked why he liked ugliness (landscape, buildings, above all, faces):  again, I can only see beauty – the derelict buildings, the rain, mud, darkling skies, bare trees against the horizon, peasants’ faces grained with dirt and tiredness, unshaven, peering through the rain with a cigarette disintegrating in the mouth, and the men too, just as downtrodden; those long, receding, glimmering tarmac roads, the figures trudging to the vanishing point in endless takes, the accordion music repeating melancholy phrases…. beautiful.

Ken Russell

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I watched Women in Love again recently and was bowled over by its brilliance as an adaptation; Glenda Jackson, Oliver Reed (especially) and Alan Bates perfect casting.  Reading the book, I was surprised to find that Ursula was the older sister; Lawrence draws her personality in much stronger strokes than is presented by Jenny Linden – Lawrence gives her an obstinacy that maddens both Gudrun and her father, but which is lacking from the Russell film.  Doesn’t matter – masterpiece anyway.

Blackpaint

29/11/11

Blackpaint 141

May 26, 2010

Tate Modern’s  10th anniversary

Saw the programme fronted by Matthew Collings on the above last night and had the pleasure of hearing Joan Mitchell described as a “lady abstract expressionist”;  Collings also offered the opinion that she was “not on the same level” as Pollock or Rothko.  Whilst this is arguably the case with Pollock, at least for those few years that he was producing the incomparable drip paintings, I have to ask, why Rothko?  Because he always insisted on the importance of his paintings, and conducted himself with almost insane self-importance, surrounded himself, or was surrounded by, an air of religiosity?  Joan Mitchell, I submit (members  of the jury), was “not on the same level” because she was a woman in a mad, macho bunch of egotists and because she chose to go to live and work in France.  I think Collings has been influenced (unconsciously,no doubt) by the misogyny of the movement, and I think her work stands comparison with the best of the ab exes.

Rothko

The thing about Rothko, though, is this: maybe, when you find that thing that you paint, there really is no point in painting anything else.  Just about everything he did, after discovering the panels of colour, was variations on that same theme.  Some of them are very beautiful and provoke profound reactions in the viewer, some are just the variations.  Ingots with slots or panels of different, shimmering colours; archways of light or darkness.  He hit it and stuck with it, and that obsessiveness has a power in itself, creates its own beauty (or horror) – neither the right word; validity maybe, but that’s a bloodless term to use.

Lorenzo Monaco

Should have mentioned the beautiful virgin and child by the above at Edinburgh; a rather well-developed baby (actually, could have been up to 10 years old) with a mop of curls rather like Titian’s Joseph.  Also, several small Duccio- like panels with that dusty pink that he does – but it was someone else, whose name escapes me.

Photographs really “glamourise” pictures sometimes; those snotty remarks I made about Titian’s surfaces seem nonsense when you look at the photos in the Companion.

Blackpaint

26.05.10

Blackpaint 131

May 10, 2010

Robert Natkin

Obituary today of another great painter I’d never heard of until I saw the Guardian.  An abstract expressionist and colour field painter, his paintings are misty light blue and red/orange patches and ovals, often with a milky surface, as if seen through white muslin.  I like his stuff a lot; a bit like a washed-out Hans Hoffman in some.  There’s a photographer of the same name, who died in 1996.

Fra Angelico to Leonardo – Italian Renaissance Drawings

Finally got to this today; crowded, but not packed.  So much in it that I’ll do it over a couple of days.

Here goes, in no particular order: Michelangelo, “old man in a hat” – shading vertical lines and top left to bottom right and cross hatching.  Elsewhere in exhibition, notes refer to cross hatching as the characteristic Michelangelo style (new to me; see Blackpaint 16 about Mick’s, Leo’s and others’ shading habits).

Several Siennese drawings, all based on Duccio paintings.

“Hanged men” by Pisanello, clearly done from life, as it were; the one with the drooping thigh boot rather haunting.

Gozzoli and Lippo Lippi pictures on blue paper, in metal- and silverpoint highlights picked out in white lead, really effective.

Ghirlandaio drawing of servant woman pouring out a jug, with cross-hatching “in the Michelangelo style”.  One of the best drawings, I think; he was Mick’s mentor.

Da Vinci’s 1473 landscape – the earliest European landscape say the notes – must check on other cultures.  Very variable shading, all directions, short and long, a little like some of Van Gogh’s. 

More Leo, Virgin and child with cat, loose sketching, hardly any shading, quick and – sketchy.  Also Christ with cat.

Leo, background to Adoration of the Magi with perspective lines ruled in, like a diagram – surely just an intellectual exercise for him.

Rosselli, Mount Sinai – again, no trees (see Blackpaint 112 on Michelangelo, who doesn’t do trees either).

Pollaiuolo – a very strange Adam; rangy and muscular, with a right arm completely out of proportion and short bandy legs, leaning on a stick as if it were a crutch, teamed with a more conventional drawing of Eve.

Mantegna, St.James led to execution, the shading lines run from bottom left to top right, some horizontal; in the next picture, Man on Slab (Lazarus?), the shading is reversed, as it is in his Virgin and Child.

Two beautiful drawings by Bellini with tonal shading, that to me, were reminiscent of Ingres; in the next picture, however, attributed to Bellini and done in the same medium, there was clear parallel shading from top left to bottom right.  They looked quite different to me.  this latter drawing was called “Campo San Lio”.

I’ll finish today with Ghirlandaio’s drapery study (beautiful); apparently, he dipped the cloth  in wax and hung it on an armature so that it hardened and the folds were preserved.

More tomorrow, including Carpaccio, more Michelangelo, more Leonardo, Raphael and – more.

Apotheosis of Blackpaint

10.05.2010