Posts Tagged ‘Ed Kienholz’

Blackpaint 634 – Review of the Year; a Jaundiced and Unbalanced Appreciation…

January 2, 2019

Exhibitions of the Year

Great shows this year:  All Too Human (Tate Britain), with that Bacon landscape and Freud’s portrait of Frank Auerbach; Charles 1 (RA) with the giant Mantegnas and Van Dyck silks and satins; Aftermath (Tate Britain), with the airborne Kathe Kollwitz, Grosz, Beckmann, Kirchner, Dix and some British artists too; and, obviously, the Bellini-Mantegna show at the National Gallery.  And, obviously, the Picasso 1932 (Tate Modern).

Of the big ones, I enjoyed Bellini/Mantegna the most, as well as Oceania at the RA, but since this is totally my blog and I don’t have to bother with paying due respect, my favourite shows were as follows:

Roy Oxlade at Alison Jaques

Amy Sillman, Camden Arts Centre

Ed Kienholz at Blain Southern

Howard Hodgkin at Gagosian

Joe Bradley, also Gagosian

Disappointment of the Year

Ribera at Dulwich Picture Gallery- fantastic;  but just not enough HUGE flayings (I think they’re at the Prado).

 

Photography

Alex Prager and Tish Murtha at Photographers Gallery – totally different, but both fascinating.

 

Films

Cold War (Pawlikowsky) – hands -down winner on a number of fronts, including music, cinematography, acting and just seriousness really.  I thought the ending was unnecessarily final…

Roma (Cuaron) – Christmas Eve film at Carlton Soho; Black and white, set in Mexico in 1970 ish, examines the relationship between a young Indian maid/nanny and her middle-class, European descended employers.  Shares all the attributes of “Cold War” except the music and has some real “wake-up” set pieces: street riots, a murder in a department store, a nail-biting childbirth sequence in a chaotic hospital, a near drowning – but none of this is melodramatic. in the sense that it somehow emerges from and sinks back into the main narrative, if that makes sense.  The martial arts and the airplane are good too.

TV

Trust

Great on every level; Donald Sutherland, Luca Marinelli, Hilary Swank – the whole cast brilliant.  Superlative.

Snowfall

Gets better all the time – except now, the great Mexican boxer is dead and his lover bereft…

The Sinner

One or two unbelievable moments (I use “unbelievable” in terms of the series’ own logic, not real reality); “They” would never have allowed Bill Pullman’s detective to take a convicted murderer on an outing alone.  Very tense and steamy, notwithstanding.

John Minton – Mark Gatiss’ absorbing documentary on the illustrator/painter.

Sad deaths this year – well, these are the ones I’m sad about

Tony Joe White – grinning rocker from the swamps

Dudley Sutton – best known as Tinker in Lovejoy, but he’ll always be the baby-faced killer in “The Boys” to me.

Some of my pictures to end with, as always:

Ochre Back

The Southern Ocean

Blackpaint

2/1/19

Happy New Year (if it is your new year)

 

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Blackpaint 621 – Abstract All the Way, Today – apart from Two Deers and Picasso

June 9, 2018

The Shape of Light, Tate Modern

An exhibition which explores the way abstract painting and abstract photography have interacted since, I guess, the teens and twenties of the last century up to today.  Consequently, it’s both huge and incomplete.  Some examples below:

 

 

 

 

I didn’t note who the painters and photographers were, but the usual suspects were there – Van Duisberg, Moholy-Nagy, Arp, Kandinsky, Brassai, Man Ray and so on.  I liked Siskind’s scratched brickwork and blistered paint and the views from the top of buildings down stairways of Moholy-Nagy.

Later sections with work by Bridget Riley et al.  Lots of rooms, lots of work and my usual problem with numerous monochrome abstract photos – the skidding eye…

 

Ed Kienholz, America My Hometown, at Blain/Southern (Hanover Square) until 14th July

Like Rauschenburg, sometimes, without the paint swatches mostly, and with a rougher sense of humour.  The exhibition “traces Kienholz’s formative years (1954 – 1967)” says the sheet.

The Little Eagle Rock Incident (1958)

 

The Nativity (1961)

A Gift for a Baby (1962)

The American Way, II (1960)

Kienholz, once resident in the back of the legendary Ferus Gallery, and an associate of Walter Hopps (read Hopps’ memoir as an antidote to the usual art BS), drove a pick up truck with “Expert” blazoned on the side, got his material from scrapyards, made scandalous tableaux (“Hoerengracht” for instance) and was buried – when dead, of course –  in his car.  Fabulous stuff.  See also the film “The Cool School”, about Kienholz, Hoppe, Irving Blum and the Ferus Gallery.

Downstairs at Blain/Southern is Erika Nissinen, a Finnish artist whose work is not easily describable, but is grotesque, funny and requires a visit.

Transcendental Accidents (The Aalto Natives) 2017-18

 

Surface Work – Women Artists at Victoria Miro Mayfair until 16th June – so hurry.

The sheet describes this as an “international, cross-generational exhibition” which is “a celebration of women artists who have shaped and transformed…..the language and definition of abstract painting.”  Others on show include Krasner, Hedda Sterne, Agnes Martin, Lygia Clark. Prunella Clough and loads more.  The Frankenthaler and the Thomas are not typical – there is Constructivist, minimalist, and geometric pieces too.

Helen Frankenthaler – Winter Figure with Black Overhead (1959)

Alma Thomas – Untitled (1961)

Picasso 1932, Tate Modern – yet again + stages of Guernica

I’ve been again, and I thought it might be worth mentioning that there is only one of the 1932 paintings, as far as I can see – or maybe one and a half – in which the central image is not defined by a heavy black or dark line.  No doubt this is because he wanted to establish the image ASAP, fix it so to speak, and get on with the next image looming up in his brain – who knows?  Anyway, it’s this one:

Sorry, rather fuzzy image.

I’ve just been looking at “Dora Maar, with and without Picasso” by Mary Ann Caws (Thames and Hudson, 2000).  In it is a series of photos of the stages of “Guernica”.  I was interested to see that Picasso originally had a long, muscular, worker-victim’s arm with clenched fist, thrusting straight up, slightly left of centre, where the screaming horse’s head is now.  The horse is arguably the most memorable feature of the painting, so he made the right decision.  With the fist, the painting would have been corny propaganda, like those awful peace things he did in the 50’s, with flute-playing rustics wandering about.  It’s still propaganda, but great.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer, dir. Yorgos Lanthimos (2017)

More epater les bourgeois, like The Square – but horrible.  It contains a sequence in which Colin Farrell, blindfolded, spins with a rifle in the midst of his bound and gagged family, and fires randomly…

The set-up of the plot strangely echoes that of the recent ITV serial “Trauma”, with Adrian Lester as a surgeon who is harried by the father of a youth he has operated on, but who died in surgery.  The father discovers the surgeon had been drinking.  In this film, the pursuer is son not father, but in other respects, oddly similar.  Supposedly “venomously funny”, according to the Telegraph.

 

Ghost Geese fly West

Blackpaint

09.06.18

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 612 – Murder, Suicide, Sex and Some Art

December 12, 2017

Modigliani, Tate Modern

Enormous exhibition, rammed to the gills when I went, a couple of weeks ago when it had just opened.  Best or most interesting ones are Nudo Dolente (1908), very rough, upward looking; the breastless nude girl on the reverse canvas in the first room; the Gaston Modot portrait with the long, thick neck (maybe because it’s the fabulous Modot, the mad-eyed hero of l’Age d’Or and the violent gamekeeper of Regle de Jour);

 

 

The portraits of Cendrars, Cocteau and Brancusi, on the reverse of the Cellist.

Blaise Cendrars

There is a corner of beautiful nudes at the end of the exhibition; these, I think, are marred a little by the come hither or demure expressions worn.

I was interested by the eyes – Modigliani has a habit of blacking or scratching out the pupil of one eye in many of the portraits; I was beginning to think he had problems with aligning the gaze, but then noticed several where the pupils were not effaced and were correctly aligned.  So that remains a puzzle.  I also have to say that the pictures of Jeanne Hebuterne (Modigliani’s lover, who killed herself after his death, by jumping, pregnant, from a window) don’t look at all like her photograph.

Caravaggio, Sebastian Schutze (Taschen)

Ploughing on through the Taschen book, I notice that there is a marked change in the flesh tones and dark backgrounds he used in several paintings done in Sicily in 1608/9; the Burial of St. Lucy, for example, and the Raising of Lazarus both have a dusty golden flesh tone and a warm brown background darkness, contrasting with the starker contrasts and whiter flesh of earlier and later paintings.  Maybe its to do with the light in Sicily; I’m sure the repros are not at fault, as Taschen is pretty reliable.

Happy End (Michael Haneke, 2017)

Saw this at the Ritzy in Brixton and was unable to make sense of the first 20-odd minutes, due, I thought, to some demented soul drumming on the wall of the cinema.  When I could stand it no more, I stormed out to complain and discovered it was flamenco dancing night in the studio upstairs.

I eventually (after the dancing ceased) managed to make sense of the story – mostly – but the difficulty might have been just as much a result of Haneke’s narrative style;  things happen and you find out what’s going on later.  Quite common now and OK, as long as the flamenco dancers keep away…

There are some other typical Haneke tropes; the lack of sentimentality, to put it mildly, and the sudden violence.  I was reminded of the sudden, shocking suicide in Hidden.  It also recalled Festen in places, notably the scene where the son turns up at the engagement dinner, with a reluctant group of African asylum seekers in tow.  Isabelle Huppert is her chilly “self” and Jean-Louis Trintignant is brilliant as a determined, wheelchair-bound, would-be suicide.  It’s a black comedy, apparently…

Walter Hopps, The Dream Colony – A Life in Art (Bloomsbury, 2017)

This cost me £30, which I thought was a lot for a book of 300-odd pages, but I’m so glad that I bought it.  Hopps was the founder of the Ferus Gallery in LA and later, a groundbreaking curator in museums and collections in California.  He was running a gallery, working nights in a mortuary, addicted to speed, living hand to mouth, nurturing wealthy collectors – simultaneously.  He drops into the narrative – it’s “as told” to Deborah Treisman of the New Yorker – surprising asides such as “My mother was dating an actor named Marion Morrison, later better known as John Wayne”, or “at the time I was living with Charles Mingus”…

The story of Ferus, Hopps’ relationship with the smooth Irving Blum and with the macho Ferus artists is also told in the film “The Cool School” and the book has some interesting contrasts with the film, notably in the area of Blum’s marriage to Hopps’ ex- wife, Shirley Neilson and Blum’s re-purchase of the Warhol soup can pictures.  And, of course, there are the  passages on the great Ed Kienholz and the tragic story of the collector Edwin Janss, who threw himself out of a 12th floor hospital window, following an incapacitating stroke.

So, sorry – suicide in Modigliani, Haneke and Hopps; not in Caravaggio, however; he killed Tomassoni in a brawl in Rome and then, maybe, wounded another in a brawl in Malta.

Two new pictures to end with:

Red Plume

 

Green Plume

Blackpaint 

12/12/17

 

 

Blackpaint 175

August 15, 2010

Douanier Rousseau

I’ve read the passage in Penguin Book of Art Writing on the above, to which I referred in BP 173 and, as usual, I was quite wrong; it’s written by Picasso’s lover at the time and, although Rousseau is portrayed as a comic, rather pathetic buffoon, there is no suggestion that Picasso himself regarded him as such.  As to my comparison of Rousseau to Ornette Coleman, that was wrong too.  Rousseau was a catalyst; he influenced P. and the Cubists, but didn’t develop much himself.  Coleman, by way of contrast, became the next big thing with, and after, Coltrane and the leading force in “free” jazz from the late 50’s on.  So – moving on…

Rauschenberg’s “Gluts” 

Last word for this year on the Guggenheim Bilbao.  These sculptures and found objects are so named because they are the detritus from the North American culture of overproduction, conspicuous consumption and built-in obsolescence (three cliches in succession!).  It’s capitalism, anyway; nothing particularly USA about it – except for the scale.  Rausch, fortunately,  had a rather sentimental attitude to these bits of refuse and went round rescuing them like stray cats.  then he attached this to that, producing a sculpture; maybe adding some paint, maybe just calling  it something.

Scoreboards, calendars, road signage, car parts (fenders,  exhausts, tyres), garage detritus, STOP signs, production statistics on factory notice boards, iron ladders (maybe attached to venetian blinds – or not), bent panels, cots, a pair of Pegasus horses facing each other across a Greek marble head painted over in yellow, those silvery aluminium air ducts, squashed and twisted…  He’s like Ed Ruscha’s younger (?) vandal brother; Ruscha’s stuff is spick-and-span, Rauschenberg’s is crushed and crumpled.  White blinds, long yellow metal slats, cymbal, old wheel, blue “wood effect” panel, iron stove, chair, car radiator.

One room contains only silver metal, no painted objects – I like the painted stuff better, less pure but the paint’s part of the glut too.  Interesting that he got names from what the sculptures and objects look like – for example, “Dirty ghost Glut”, “Samurai Glut”, “Gold Strike Glut”.

The exhibition ends with photographs of R’s collaborations with dancers Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown.

Mike Nelson

Went to Tate Britain yesterday, and very nearly missed this artist’s “Coral Reef”.  That’s because you enter the installation through a little scruffy cream doorway and are confronted with the uniformed back of a Tate attendant sitting at a wooden counter behind a grille, filling in some forms.  As you mutter an apology and go to withdraw, you notice that there are other punters beyond the grille.  Progressing further, you find a confusing suite of rooms, low ceilings, made out of wood, dark, smelling  like the basement of  a second-hand bookshop, with various random objects scattered around: a settee, rumpled sleeping bag, clown’s head, tommy gun – some of the rooms look like temporary offices in old Portakabins, or more likely, disused rolling stock.  It was a little like going round the Haunted House in some impoverished travelling fairground.  It reminded me of the Kienholz “Hoerengracht” thing (see Blackpaint 34  ).  Coral Reef?  I suppose it winds in and out, like a maze – but it was more like a reef of detritus, washed up by the tide.

Listening to Easy Rider Blues by Texas Alexander.

“Takes midnight til the early rising sun,

Midnight til the early rising sun,

Stood on the corner, just to see my baby come.”

Torn Curtain by Blackpaint