Posts Tagged ‘Edward Hopper’

Blackpaint 464 – Ponds and White Beards, Ennui, Clowns and World War I

October 10, 2014

Turner Prize

I’ve only really seen the first two candidates, James Richards and Tris Vonna – Marshall, properly; need to go back for Ciara Phillips and Duncan Campbell.  However, I was surprised that Laura Cummings panned the first two in the Observer on Sunday – I thought they were both great.  Both were video- based.

First, James Richards.  He has a series of developing images – insects on and just below the surface of a pond, a budgerigar, heavily censored “explicit” photographs by Man Ray and Mapplethorpe from Japanese library books.  The latter are censored by scribbles from a white pencil so that in one, a man on top of another appears to have an untidy white beard hanging down over the belly of the man beneath, as he stoops towards it ( no prizes).  All these various images are accompanied by a variety of soundtracks that have nothing to do with the images, so its about the subversion of understanding by incongruity.  It took me about half a minute, for example, to make sense of the budgie, even though it was quite clear.  The pond images are stunning and I found the censorship scratches aesthetically pleasing too – bit like white paint swatches on a Rauschenberg.

Tris Vonna-Marshall kicks off with a panning landscape shot of the Essex marshes apparently; curlews on the soundtrack, a fat brown chain in a sump, the links looking just like bulbous, slimy sausage, washed green, drained red buildings, a Turner/Britten feel to it – Cummings describes it as “rigidly indifferent….. could have been filmed by a robot”.  He then changes to black and white interiors and a bunch of disparate objects like boxes, photos and accompanies it with a frantic, stream -of -consciousness soundtrack in which he seems to be presenting a sort of bi-polar, wired inventory of things and actions, as if trying desperately to fix them in his mind.  Sounds terrible; I liked it.  His next video, with a soundtrack in which he is pursuing several rather obscure anecdotes with family members, contains a series of images which reminded me of Prunella Clough; for example,  a grass -covered manhole cover, slightly opened.  Don’t know what it all means; liked it all the same.

A common factor shared by Richards and Vonna-Marshall is Germany; Richards is based in Berlin, Vonna-Marshall has German parentage.  Phillips and Campbell in next blog.

Hopper and Sickert

There was a programme on Edward Hopper on Sky Arts during which I was struck by the similarity of two of his themes with those of Walter Sickert; alienation between partners and theatres.  Below are two examples: the styles are very different, of course, but the themes are the same.

 

hopper - couple

Edward Hopper – Room in New York

 

 

sickert ennui

Walter Sickert – Ennui

 

hopper clowns

Edward Hopper – Two Comedians 

 

sickert brighton pierrots

Walter Sickert – Brighton Pierrots

I’ve no idea if Hopper knew Sickert’s work , or vice versa; the only artist that Robert Hughes mentions in his essay on Hopper is de Chirico; Hughes detects an echo of him in Hopper’s scenarios.  I thought maybe a touch of Diebenkorn in his bathing- suited women…

Imperial War Museum

Now re-opened, the exhibits much thinned down and put into context with AV presentations.  All is explained; great bottlenecks of greyhairs and tourists reading and watching, like those punters with walkie talkies who stand in front of paintings for ten minutes, until the WT tells them to move on – and kids (at whom all this is presumably aimed) charging about, looking at not much.  I prefer to read about it at home and look at objects (trench clubs, McCudden’s smashed windscreen) with little labels in the museum.  Only managed WWI this time.

A new (or newly exhibited) painting below, by the Scottish Colourist Fergusson;

fergusson -dockyard portsmouth

JD Fergusson – Portsmouth Harbour

 

kennington - the Kensingtons at

Eric Kennington – The Kensingtons at Laventie

This was on display prior to the closure of the museum, and is still on show. Although Kennington did it from life apparently, I was struck by the Renaissance “feel” of it.  the soldiers look like figures at the base of the Cross, maybe – or a Della Francesca (none of them are connecting with each other, all in their private worlds).

All the President’s Men

Best film I saw last week (Clooney’s “The Descendants” a disappointment); there were some brilliant aerial shots of cars entering and leaving car parks (no, really) – all those different styles and colours!  Very tense, Hoffman, Redford and Robards all brilliant.  it was just a pity that it all got telescoped at the end, with the arrests and prosecutions and impeachment and resignation of Nixon just listed.  Still, it would have been about five hours long…

 

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009

 

Scraping the Surface 1 and 2

Blackpaint

10.10.14 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 384 – I Hate Lists.

March 7, 2013

Stoker

Great film, directed by Park Chan-wook, starring Eva Wasikowska,  which seems to be dividing critics; Philip French in the Observer seemed to think it was just too much of everything, especially the Philip Glass score.  It’s full of references, visual and verbal, to other films  and it would be tedious to list the few that I got – so, here goes:

Psycho, throughout- Uncle Charlie’s appearance in distance on the hill,  echoing the Psycho poster, the motel, the shower scene; Carrie – India’s white dress stained red by the light outside the diner where she talks to the biker; Edward Hopper, the same scene (not the biker, the diner-and I know, Hopper a painter, not a film); Marnie (maybe) –  the red staining of the flowers recalling Tippi Hedren’s half-memory of the blood staining the back of Bruce Dern’s sailor’s suit…; Deliverance –  the policeman speaking to India, recalling the sheriff’s conversation with Jon Voigt – “Oh, he’ll come in drunk  probably…”..  A few fanciful ones – Deer Hunter?  Grease?  Stand by Me?  I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch of teen vampire refs in there and I read that Shadow of a Doubt, another Hitchcock that I haven’t seen, has a murderous Uncle Charlie.

There are some visual moments that have to be mentioned; the spider disappearing up India’s skirt, Nicole Kidman’s hair turning to grass, the blood spattering the flowers – sorry, done that one already.

The Lair of the White Worm

A Bram Stoker book, appropriately; Ken Russell directed a 1988 “version” which was on TV last week and providentially, I happened on it whilst trawling the horror channels.  It has to be seen to be believed, and even then..  Hugh Grant as Lord d’Ampton – the whole thing is inspired by the legend of the Lambton Worm – and Peter Capaldi as Angus the archaeologist, who digs up the snake’s skull and the Roman temple remains.  The acting of the entire cast is reminiscent of the Five Go Wild series; you are contemplating switching channels, thinking how sad to see Ken in decline, when suddenly – a psychedelic interlude!  Christ bleeding on the cross, entwined by a revolting giant white worm thing, surrounded by screaming, bloodstained nuns being raped and slaughtered by Roman soldiers, all in acid colours – and we’re back in Russell territory.  In a later vision, the nuns are impaled on stakes, like victims of Vlad.

A later dream sequence has Amanda Donohoe wrestling with Catherine Oxenberg as a pair of sexy air “hostesses” on board a jet in which Hugh Grant sits tied up, playing with his pencil…  And Capaldi, in kilt, charming the serpent by playing the tune of the Lambton Worm to it on the bagpipes and suddenly producing a hand grenade – where did he get that?  Before leaving the film, I must mention that the virtually naked Donohoe drowns a harmonica playing boy scout in her bath.  Actually, he’s finished playing – she does a little snake dancing to it and then snatches his harmonica away, irritably, before pushing him under the water with her foot.

For me, it’s up there with The Wicker Man (Roeg version, of course); what a double bill that would make. NB – correction!  Wicker Man directed by Robin Hardy, NOT Nick Roeg.  Sorry – mix-up, because Wicker Man was originally released in a double bill with Don’t Look Now – which was, of course, directed by Roeg.

BBC yourpaintings website

I’ve just been browsing this website and the following paintings caught my eye from the first 10 pages of the 99 devoted to Tate collections:

  • A Man Who Suddenly Fell Over, Michael Andrews, 1952  
  • A Singer at the Bedford Music Hall, Spencer Gore, 1912 – is that the Bedford in Balham?  Looks a bit Keith Vaughan…
  • Abstract Painting, Vanessa Bell, 1914 – that pink and dark yellow very like a much later Ben Nicholson; love the roughness.
  • A Tree Study, Robert Medley, 1959 – never heard of him.
  • Abstract, Gillian Ayres.

(c) Gillian Ayres; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Ayres

This website is the sort of place where you might end up browsing for hours, days, months…

001

Seaside

Blackpaint

07.03.13

Blackpaint 312 – He Slapped the Paint on with his Bare Hands

December 13, 2011

De Kooning

“And just as he occasionally applied the paint to canvas with his bare hands, de Kooning’s sculptures reflect the physical investment in the creation of a work of art that was characteristic of …..Abstract Expressionism.” (Barbara Hess, de Kooning, Taschen 2007).  Occasionally?  I would have thought he did it a lot and often – I don’t see how you could get some of those marks with a brush or knife.  Nothing like getting a good fistful and slapping it onto the canvas – in a careful and thoroughly controlled movement , of course…

Soutine

One more quote from the same book, this time DK himself:  “I’ve always been crazy about Soutine – … Maybe it’s the lushness of the paint.  He builds up a surface that looks like a material, like a suvstance.  There’s a kind of transfiguration, a certain fleshiness in his work”.

He’s right, isn’t he?  And there is a certain resemblance in his (Soutine’s) distorted trees and villages to DK’s “style”  (although DK hated the word).

Gesamtkunstwerk at Saatchi

Just want to mention two more artists from this exhibition; the first is Ida Ekblad, a Norwegian who often works in Germany.  She has made several thick plaques of concrete or plaster, in which are embedded, or to which are stuck, various bits of pipe and metals, coloured fabric, general rubbish, some more organised than others, a wash of paint here and there…  I know, sounds like crap, but they really look great, especially from a distance.  When she paints, she turns in huge, dramatic Scando works, owing something to the school of Per Kirkeby.  Saw one of hers in Venice Bienniale, but forgot to mention it then.

Secondly, Thomas Helbig, whose work I both loved and hated.  He has two ghastly, lumpy sculptures entitled Vater and Jungfrau, that are sort of biomorphic – half bird,  half human, really ugly in a not interesting way.  His paintings, Maschine and Wilde Mit Spiegel, however, have a delicacy of touch and colour and a rather Richter-isch quality; maybe because the first looks a bit like a blurred jet plane, recalling Richter’s September painting.

There is a book  of Helbig’s work on sale in Saatchi’s, and in it are a number of very beautiful paintings, on lacquer, I think it said, that recall Chinese wall hangings. 

Finally, for now anyway, there is Stefan Kurten; highly detailed, one or two verging on super-realism, but others in a difficult to describe graphic style -overgrown  gardens, plants, balconies, interiors of deserted flats and modern concrete buildings.  Crowded with things, empty of people.  They look fantastic in repro, maybe better than in the “flesh”.  One of them, Ultramarine II, reminded me of Hopper’s Nighthawks in its general shape, with sculptures and paintings standing in for the people.

Life Drawings

This is the finished painting that I was doing to incorporate some of my lifers, and in which I was trying to purify my colours of ” mud” and get a  De Kooning cleanliness in the tangle.  Partial success, maybe.

Life Drawing I

Here are the pictures I used:

They’re all in there somewhere.

The Music Lovers

Halfway through this and enjoying it immensely, memories flooding back.  It’s like a boisterous brother to Death in Venice, the hostility between Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein (the Delius actor) echoing that between Von Aschenbach and Alfred –   Down the river, through the willows in canoes, everyone in white,shades of  Manet… fantastic.

Blackpaint

12/12/11