Posts Tagged ‘Ed Ruscha’

Blackpaint 678 – Andy, Ed and Death in the Snow

September 1, 2020

Tate Modern – Andy Warhol

 

Great, clean, single line drawing – wish I could do it too.

 

From the Ten Most Wanted series.

 

Red Riot

 

 

Elvis.  touch of Bollywood in the image, I think.

 

More violent death in the media…

 

Older readers will remember those retouched photos you used to get of murders and murderers in the 30s and 40s in American magazines like True Detective.

 

 

Touch of Rauschenberg here – or maybe Richard Hamilton, more like?

 

Never noticed before that the mauve (purple?) blotches were little Maos as well.  Must be more observant…

 

Great use of colour in these laughing skulls.

 

Don’t know who the woman in this portrait is…

 

…but no problem with these two.

 

Lenin in red, with a touch of ruthlessness around the eyes – surely not…

 

Her expression strangely reminiscent of Lenin’s above.

 

Although this is such an iconic picture, it’s an unusual image of Warhol, who was more often photographed smiling vaguely, or peering thoughtfully at something.

Ed Ruscha

 

Typical Ruscha – the incongruity of the slogan and the image; see also John Baldessari.

 

Love these pipes. straining at the edges of the picture.

 

You can hear Johnny Cash reciting  “Ragged Old Flag”, looking at this.  Or I can, anyway.

 

Started with a typical Ruscha, so ending this bit with an unusual one.  Something Chinese about the image, I think, or maybe Vietnamese – makes me think of peasant revolutions.  Maybe it’s an age thing, all those marches and posters in the 60s and 70s.  I do have a copy of Mao’s Little Red Book still…

 

And This…

What a great photo.  There were actually two photos, both showing resigned commuters forced against the glass – but the other one came out blurred (my picture, not the original, of course).  Sorry to say I didn’t get the artist’s name.

The Victors, dir. Carl Foreman (1963)

Oddly reminiscent of “All Quiet on the Western Front”, the Lewis Milestone classic of 1930.  I think it’s the episodic structure, the scenes with the various civilian women and families, and the general anti -war message.  The most famous scene, of course, is the execution in the snowbound countryside of the American GI, which takes place as Frank Sinatra sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on the soundtrack.  More shocking though, is the arrival of George Peppard at the British hospital where his sergeant is a patient, to find him badly disfigured and not wanting visitors…

The scenes are separated by newsreels and headlines; it’s raining – well, pouring – most of the time in Belgium, France, Germany and especially Britain.  The film is full of stars – Peppard, George Hamilton III (pre – permatan), the great Eli Wallach, Peter Fonda, and is that Robert Mitchum? No, it’s his son.  The women – Melina Mercouri, Elke Sommer, Romy Schneider, Senta Berger and Jeanne Moreau.

The film ends with a knife fight in the ruins of Berlin, between Hamilton’s character and a drunken Russian soldier.  Who plays the Russian?  Albert Finney!

 

 

And so, to my offering; I have actually managed to complete a couple of paintings since last blog.

 

Seated Red

Blackpaint

1/09/20

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 397 – Moth’s Wings, Ekcovision and Vanishing Points

June 6, 2013

Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway

Sometimes, you get those coincidences – in an Observer article by Robert McCrum on Sunday, reviewing Sarah Churchwell’s new book on SF, Zelda and Gatsby, McCrum quotes Hemingway on SF: his talent “was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly’s wings”.

Monday, reading “Jacob’s Ladder”, umpteenth SF short story in his collected works, came across this: “And with the clumsy tools of jealousy and desire he was trying to create the spell that is ethereal and delicate as the dust on a moth’s wing”.  McCrum doesn’t give the source of the Hemingway quotation, so I must assume it was hommage rather than plagiarism.  All references I can find online attribute the image to Hemingway.

Pessoa, the Book of Disquiet

Just finished this collection of writings by the Portuguese poet/”bookkeeper”; I found much of it hilarious, but I’m not exactly sure I was supposed to.  At times, it reminded me of Sartre’s Roquentin  in “Nausea”, or of Celine’s Bardamu in “Journey to the end of the Night”.  He makes a virtue of inertia, travelling in his mind rather than in space, while he works at his accounts in the Lisbon warehouse – then seeks to undermine even the dreaming, which is itself, he thinks, a waste of effort.  Is it shot through with irony?  Must be, surely.  the reason I use inverted commas when I say “bookkeeper” is that Pessoa wrote, and lived, through a number of heteronyms – avatars, I suppose they might be called now.

Ed Ruscha

I’m still ploughing through “Pacific Standard Time”, the great book on the art of LA and its environs from WW2 to the eighties.  In it, Ruscha’s painting of Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art on fire, is described as having “incompatible vanishing points”; I find this mystifying – they look OK to me.  Judge for yourself, below.

ruscha

The Lavender Hill Mob

First time I’ve actually watched this through, and I was knocked out by it – the Eiffel Tower sequences, when Holloway and Guinness are hurtling down the spiral staircase, and the police car chase around the strangely spacious streets of London (maybe it was the bombsites) both classic sequences; that huge “Ekcovision” advert on the wall!  The Welsh policeman singing along to “Old MacDonald” as he stood on the running board – Saturday morning pictures feel about it.

Of course, there was the problem of criminals being seen to get away with it.. and Sid James and Alfie Bass, half the “mob”, being written out halfway through – still, brilliant film.

Festen

Again.  Still riveting, even when you know what’s coming.  This time around I loved Michael, the thuggish, desperate, racist brother, played by Thomas Bo Larsen –  perhaps “loved” is the wrong word, especially when he attacks his girlfriend.  Also Gbatokai (can’t find his real name) who does he resemble, I was thinking?  A young Obama.  And Helge, the father (Henning Moritzen) behaving “appropriately” to the end.

When are paintings finished? 

Who knows?  I stick them on the wall and wait to see – it used to be that they “proved themselves”, in a way, by acquiring a sort of presence over time.  Now, I think I’ve lost the facility of seeing that – the crap, unfinished ones seem to have a right to exist, same as the better ones.  This latest looks like a pellet brought up by an owl, floating in blue fluid..

??????????

Pellet

Blackpaint

6.6.13 

Blackpaint 192

September 13, 2010

Rachel Cooke on Ed Ruscha

Rachel Cooke seems to be pioneering a new form (or rediscovering an old form) of art criticism.  Some time ago, she referred to the artist Conrad Shawcross as “adorable”;  in the Observer yesterday, she writes about Ruscha in the following terms: “at 72, Ruscha .. is a devastatingly attractive man …. He has a gravelly voice – the kind that invites you both to move your head closer to his and to keep your eyes firmly on his lips ….  The luxuriant grey hair, the flinty eyes, the soft blue shirt… sitting with him is like sitting with an old-school American movie star…” 

 Actually, to be fair, it’s billed as an interview – but  I can’t help thinking a male reporter on the Observer wouldn’t get away with this stuff any more, if he was interviewing a woman artist.  Or maybe he would if she was 72 – is that it?  You can drool on about their physical attractions as long as they’re old; they’ll probably be pleased, rather than annoyed at being patronised.

Later in the article, she makes some reference to his art and his “trademark” use of words: “Ruscha used words as linguistic readymades; he painted them not because he liked what they meant, but because he liked the way they looked..”  This is an intriguing idea, but I think it can only work fully if the words are in a foreign language, better still a foreign alphabet.  I’m thinking of Malevich, Goncharova, was it, Rodchenko, who put Russian words or letters in their paintings sometimes, which work purely visually for non – Russian speakers.  when Ruscha paints “Standard” or “Boss”, you can’t  – or its really difficult to – look at it just as shapes or colours.  Interesting idea, though and I suppose it doesn’t matter if you can’t carry it through completely.

Rachel Whiteread drawings

This is reviewed in the Observer as well, by Laura Cumming.  It’s not an interview, so we don’t find out how attractive Whiteread is, or what she is wearing, but we do get a pretty good idea of what the drawings look like and what Cumming thinks of them (good, better than the sculptures, which labour the “one big idea”).  And she’s right; the “Untitled (Double Mattress Yellow)” does look “like a stale yellow cracker flat on its back, its buttons forming Tuc biscuit holes”. 

I wonder what the attraction is with graph paper?  I was writing about Eva Hesse at Tate St. Ives last week and now here are several more drawings on graph paper in a major exhibition.  Ready- made background, handy for straight lines, cheap, giving an air of spontaneity… Cumming says “the images mutiny” against it, stand out  better – a door “looks as abrupt as the exclamation mark it strangely resembles”.  Doesn’t to me, but I’m going by the photograph in the paper; maybe it does from across the room.  Find out when I go.

Elizabeth Neel

I’ve been looking again at “New Abstraction”, the Phaidon book by Bob Nickas  (it’s orange with a big white circle on the front – buy it).   This artist’s stuff is highly uplifting.  She does paintings that look like AbExes, but teeter on the edge, really; they’re full of thick, mud colours, scrawls and swirls, scratches and squirts and dribbles, blood smears, hanging flesh, glimpses of human forms.  She looks for photographs and images on the Net, of  “accidents, violence, decay” (sounds like Bacon).  Fantastic paintings – google her and you’ll see.  She’s Alice Neel’s granddaughter.

Skinningrove by Blackpaint

Blackpaint 176

August 16, 2010

Rauschenberg

Last blog should have read “Ruscha’s OLDER vandal brother” – although doesn’t sound so good.  Rauschenberg was born in 1925 and is dead; Ruscha was born in 1937 and is still alive – important differences (to the artists anyway).

Rausch. is included,with Ruscha and Rosenquist et al, in the Taschen “Pop Art”.   I  think I’m right in saying he’s  the only one with any real texture to his surfaces – the others are all smooth and glassy, some airbrushed.

Tate Britain

 A Mary Feddon, mauve table floating at a Cezanne angle, floating on it a red-orange fruit and other objects I can’t recall – and an Arthur Boyd, “Bride drinking from a creek”, depicting exactly that; a ghost -like figure with, a stiff white lace veil sticking up behind her, face in the river, surrounded by blackened stumps and sticks of trees burnt in some bush fire.  Both fabulous painitngs.

Blake

There is an exhibition of beautiful small pictures by William Blake, mostly from the Book of Urizen, including one that looks like God using a bowling ball, another of a highly stylised skeletal figure with a patriarch and one of those squareish, massively muscled, but huddled and  troubled (sorry) figures with the staring eyes.  Also a single page of beautifully etched trees and pastoral scenes, each the size of a pair of dominoes, and showing clearly Blake’s influence on modern artists like Graham Sutherland.  We have a copy of the book at home with tipped in illustrations, that are clearly different versions of the ones on show here; apparently, he did a number of versions in different media.

Sutherland, etc.

In the next room are works by Sutherland, Michael Ayrton, John Piper and Keith Vaughan, which seem to follow naturally somehow; Vaughan’s figures, in particular, are solid and chunkier than the more abstract figures of the 60s I’m used to (see various previous Blackpaints).  The main Ayrton is a Temptation of St. Anthony, which is a wonderful drawing  in terrible  colours, to my eyes anyway.

The Sutherlands include the Welsh(?) landscape with the cow’s skull in those Bomberg-like orange-reds and ochres, the green, white and black tree tunnel and the long, green log which always looks to me like a pig’s head on the end of a battering ram.

Finally, in this room, there is a glass case, full of  sketchbooks by Sutherland, Vaughan and Robert Colquhoun which have some of the best pictures, as always.

John Riddy

Next room, have a look at one particular picture by Riddy, the shot of a brick wall in Weston Street.  It looks just like a painting to me, the brickwork and old poster tatters making an illusion of paint texture.

Lanyon

The great little exhibition of Lanyon’s preparatory works for the 1951 “Porthleven” is still up and it makes me doubt whether Lanyon’s work  is in any sense abstract.  Everything he paints is there in the world, apart maybe from sweeping lines representing a glider’s trajectory; it’s just  cut up and jumbled, “abstractified”, I suppose.  Margaret Garlake in her Tate book goes for “near-abstract”.  An interesting bit of info is that Lanyon claimed he was unaware of the presence of the fisherman and his wife, the two figures that “contain” the town, until he’d  finished.  Sounds far-fetched, but I believe it – happens  to me all the time.

Blackpaint

16.08.10

 

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