Posts Tagged ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’

Blackpaint 461- Pablo and Francis, Will and George and Gustav

September 7, 2014

Bacon and Picasso

It occurred to me while looking at Picasso in Tate Modern that the shapes of some of Bacon’s nudes are very much like those of Picasso – that is, you could paint out the flesh in the Bacons and substitute a matt cream, or light green or blue and you’d have a Picasso.. sort of…  Take a look below, to see what I mean:

bacon nude 1

picasso nude 1

 

bacon nude 3

 

 

0picasso nude 2

 

You could “Picasso” the Bacons and “Bacon” the Picassos, so to speak.  So what? you might ask – and you’d be right.  Incidentally, if you Google “Bacon Nudes”, the selection of pictures you get is much more varied and interesting than “Picasso Nudes”…

Bright Lights, Brilliant Minds (BBC4)

I watched the James Fox prog on Vienna last night (on Catch Up); he mentioned the high suicide rate amongst young Viennese intellectuals in the pre-WW1 years – the programme centred on the year 1908 – which reminded me of the recent RA exhibition “Making Faces”, on the same place and general period.  Neither the exhibition, as I recall it, nor Fox, offered any explanation of this phenomenon, however.

One picture that cropped up in the Fox programme was the stupendous Klimt below:

klimt 2

Portrait of Fritza Riedler, Gustav Klimt

Will Self on Orwell

I have to say I think Self is right about Orwell’s rules on good writing; they are ridiculously restrictive and would exclude Joyce, Woolf and DH Lawrence for a start.  Probably Self too, but I haven’t read anything of his, apart from a couple of articles in the Observer; I can’t be bothered to be looking up every tenth word.  Is Orwell’s writing “mediocre”?  Surely not; he’s always a positive pleasure to read (except for the Goldstein document in Nineteen Eighty-Four and a couple of other stretches of politics, in “Homage to Catalonia” for instance) and even where there are weaknesses, they don’t strike you while you are reading.  For my money, “Burmese Days” and “Coming up for Air” are excellent,”A Clergyman’s Daughter” and “Aspidistra” are at least very good, with brilliant bits (the hop picking in “Daughter”, for instance).  “Animal Farm” is just about perfect as allegory, notwithstanding TS Eliot’s remarks about the pigs; and “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is a tightly written, thrilling and absorbing novel, quite apart from its importance as a critique of totalitarianism.  I’ve read it three or four times, like all of Orwell’s published novels and essays, and still found it gripping.  I can’t say that for any other writers, except Joyce.

I referred to “Homage to Catalonia” – there’s a point in that book where Orwell says he’s about to launch into a chapter on the details of Spanish politics and tells the reader that he can skip to the next chapter if he wishes, without loss of continuity.  I realised with amusement that I read a similar directive years ago – in “The Ka of Gifford Hillary”, a supernatural thriller set in WW2, by Dennis Wheatley.  Wheatley does a 40 -or -so page  detour into the world of British Intelligence, telling the reader, like Orwell, to skip.  I think their politics differed more than slightly, however.

Far From the Madding Crowd (John Schlesinger, 1967)

I watched this again, over a couple of late nights, and I have to say, like Ken Russell’s “Women in Love”, it’s just about perfect; the cast (Stamp, Bates, Christie, Finch), location, adaptation, music, that staggering Dick Turpin performance in the circus ring…

 

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Derby Ram

Blackpaint,

7.09.14 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 265

April 4, 2011

Cause Celebre

Interested on Friday night to hear Germaine Greer on the Review Show saying – I think – that there was doubt that Alma Rattenbury killed herself.  I remember from “60 Famous Trials” that Alma stabbed herself and jumped into a river within days of George Stoner’s death sentence.  I checked and that appears to be right; Stoner’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment later.  I gather from the discussion that Terence Rattigan changed Stoner’s name in the play for some reason.  I was also interested to see Rattenbury’s entry in Wikipedia as a famous architect in British Columbia; sadly, he’s now much more famous in England as a murder victim.

While I’m on about “60 Famous Trials”, I must mention the poisoner Vaquier, a Belgian barman working in England,  who was in love with the landlord’s wife.  When he bought the poison, he used an assumed name that he thought the shopkeeper would not remember.  The name he chose was Mr. Wanker.

Ulysses and Madding Crowd

Jonathan Coe in the Guardian was on about unsuccessful film adaptations of classic novels.  He cited Joseph Strick’s 1967 “Ulysses” again – but why?  I found it a brilliant, funny rendering; Milo O’Shea was great in the brothel fantasy scenes, especially the trials and the humiliation by Bella Cohen.  The cast was wonderful – TP McKenna as Buck Mulligan, Milo as Bloom and Sheila O’ Sullivan as Molly, and Maurice Roeves made a fair stab at Stephen.  I’ve read the book six or seven times, so I know it pretty well; there was a lot left out (of course, and thank goodness), but what was left in was done brilliantly.

As for “Madding Crowd”, Coe thought it was OK, if a little “swinging 60’s”, presumably because Stamp and Christie were in it – hard to see how you could avoid this aspect, considering that it was made in the swinging 60’s; maybe use a different, less fashionable cast.  Nothing particularly swinging about it, to my way of thinking.

British Museum

In Prints and Drawings, some new old cartoons by  Heath.  He’s new to me anyway; some interesting surreal touches, notably Duke of Wellington with a lobster claw for a head.

Wellcome Trust

Has an exhibition about waste, dirt and disease.  For some reason, it has a great de Hooch on display, one of those red brick alleyways in Delft (or Leyden?) – these Dutch painters, de Hooch and Kalf and the like, the fore-runners of Super Realism.

Royal Academy

I took two paintings up for the handing-in day on Thursday – what’s the quote? “The triumph of hope over experience”?  I’m stuck in a groove at the moment, of St. Ives/60s style abstraction.  Surely there’s a retro market for this stuff?  Might have to start doing stylised frying pans or kitchen tables or ingredients in a pattern…  Seems to be a constant demand for that sort of thing,as long as it’s bright and well-executed.

Vincent’s letters

I’m getting a bit sick of VG’s eternal admonitions to his brother.  “Look Vincent,” Theo should have said, “just do me a few hanging frying pans, or kitchen scenes, or harbours and fishing boats in nice, bright colours, that I can shift.  Enoughof the muddy peasants and potatoes and dodgy portraits of yokels – just do something that people can look at and say, “It was just as if you were there – you could almost smell the grass…”.

Blackpaint

04.04.11

Blackpaint 264

March 31, 2011

Marlene Dumas

I’ve been looking at her Phaidon book again, and most of the images – no, ALL of the images – are “ugly”.  That is to say, they are distorted, bloated, explicit, mostly grey or brown, like decaying flesh.  There are ugly babies, naked figures lined up as if for inspection in a concentration camp or  a brothel, women offering their bodies in pornographic poses (but so crudely painted that they are not titillating –  in a conventional way); actual paintings of dead women’s faces…  I used to think the baby with the red hands (Painter) was the most disturbing – now I think it’s those “school photographs”, especially The Turkish Schoolgirls (1987).  Look at the front three from the far right!  They will haunt your dreams, like something from The Orphanage.

So why do I like her work?  Well, it’s strong, dramatic, caustic, driving.  If it was music,  it would be Piece of my Heart by Janis Joplin, or maybe Gimme Shelter; if it was food, it would be lime chilli pickle; if it was a film, it would be Salo.. This could go on and on (if it was an insurance company..), so I’ll stop with the pretentiousness now – I hope you get the point.

It occurs to me that there has to be something to offset the harshness and horror; that something is, of course, the technical skill in the images; the use of colour, the draftsmanship, the artful clumsiness and crudeness in just the right places to just the right degree.

The Killing

I’m counting Morten as 50% right; OK, he wasn’t the murderer, but he was the political manipulator.

Magritte

Went to the drawings and prints at British Museum yet again and this time, read the blurb on the Magritte drawing.  It referred to Herbert Read’s comments that Mag looked for affinities between unlikely things – the example here is leaves and bricks.  The drawing is of a tree in which the foliage is shaped like a single leaf; poplar. I would say.  Only, instead of individual leaves, it is composed of bricks, as in a brick wall.  OK, leaves soft, pliable, rustling; bricks hard, unyielding, silent.  However – leaves combine together to make a greater unity, bricks combine together.. etc.

Too cerebral and systematic for me – I like my surrealists wild, untidy, loose ends, what’s that in the corner, what’s that supposed to be… so it is, how disgusting – the feeling that it might really have been dragged up from their subconscious minds, even if they’re faking it – as perhaps Dali might have done once or twice.  Maybe Magritte’s subconscious mind worked that way – after all, he was famously neat, fussy, and tidy, even when painting.  But then, so was Miro.

Looking again at the Kitaj life drawings, they contain distortions; that inward curve of the lower back is surely exaggerated and the lower leg also curves too much.  The genitalia are far too small, of course.  These distortions, however, are of the order of Michelangelo distortions, as the drawings are in the same class as M’s, in my view.

Far From the Madding Crowd

First time I’ve seen this utterly beautiful film; I loved the circus scene, the songs, the characters, the story.  Two whole seconds of “David Swarbrick” on view, playing fiddle in the barn.  Julie Christie singing “Bushes and Briers” – the stunning original, not the nearly-as-beautiful Thompson/Denny song.  Was that really her singing? and Terence Stamp, doing the Jolly Tinker?  If so. they made a good job of it – as did the tinker in the song.

Blackpaint

31/03/11