Posts Tagged ‘Fauves’

Blackpaint 109

April 13, 2010

Pompidou Centre (cont.)

The main collection at the Pompidou hasn’t changed that much since 2004, when I was last there: there are Matisses and Kandinskys throughout, or so it seems; a great collection of Fauves – Mat himself, Vlaminck, Dufy, Derain,Kees Van Dongen (love that name) painting everything blue and red and orange and green.  There is a line of lovely Laurent sculptures on an outside terrace amongst the tubular scaffolding; there is a room of Brauners and Lams, dominated by a huge Matta, looking from a distance like an Ab Ex and calling to me from a couple of rooms away – what was that unlikely story about Brauner getting blinded in one eye? see below, no pun intended – and the “usual” Legers and Gris(es) and Surrealists dotted throughout.

Highlights: 

  • Picassos.  As always in a room of Picassos, you get the impression that he has contemptuously dashed off a definitive, totally original, brilliantly coloured masterpiece in 30 minutes, then moved on impatiently to knock out another one to go on the opposite wall.  When he is hung with anyone else (except sometimes Matisse), your eye – well, mine anyway – is “sucked” straight to his work.
  • Two Matisses – a woman with a starched white blouse right at the start and a fabulous fiddler sketched in black, who looks about to start playing as you stare at him.
  • A room full of Rouaults (apologies for the accidental alliteration), most based on Les Fleurs du Mal, that are wonderful figure paintings in his black style, but that manage to glow in a way I’ve never noticed with his stuff before.
  • Two excellent de Staels, one with that typical squares-on-scraped-concrete feel, the other with big triangles of light green.
  • A Soulages in variable black with what looks like 5 white chalk lines horizontal across it – and next to it an Ad Reinhardt, a really BLACK painting, entitled “Ultimate Black No6”; it looks as if he is putting Soulages’ half-hearted effort in its place.
  • Burri and Fontana – sacking and slashes respectively.
  • A Pollock in swirling, broad black and white strokes (brush?).
  • Dubuffet; a couple of scraped surfaces with concealed figures and one big Aztec clown picture, as I have come to think of them.
  • Finally, and most memorable, a couple of Bonnards – beautiful golden-browns, fiery oranges and whites, colours that burn and glow, the nude woman leaning against the bath in what seems the most natural and relaxed pose – but of course, if you think about it, totally unnatural!  Fabulous, ravishing pictures.  Why no Taschen book on Bonnard?  The Phaidon is terrible; the colours are dead, especially the browns.   

Brauner

For those who don’t know it, the Brauner story is briefly told in Sarane Alexandrian’s “Surrealist Art”.  In 1938, he was accidentally blinded in the left eye by a bottle thrown during a brawl by Oscar Dominguez; since 1931, he had been painting figures “with horns coming out of their eyes, and others who looked in despair at an eye which had been plucked out….. in 1932, in “Mediterranean landscape”, and in 1935, in “Magic of the seashore”, he had shown himself with his eye pierced by an instrument with the letter D, Dominguez’ initial, on its handle”. (p.113, Surrealist Art, Thames and Hudson 1995).

Trying to keep the blog down to 500 words, so Musee d’Orsay and Museum of Modern Art tomorrow.

After the galleries, sat on the roof cafe with my partner, drinking beer, on a golden evening, looking out over the gargoyles on a nearby church that was possibly Notre Dame, with a single rose in a vase on the table and “Un Homme et une Femme” playing.  All together now: “Naa – Naa…na-na-na-na-Na, na-na-na-na-na-Na…” Two beers cost 12 Euros.

PS – The Shobdon Tympanum (see Blackpaint 17 and 106) depicts “Christ in majesty”, surrounded by whirling angels – so not a mystery woman in striped T shirt after all (Google Shobdon-arches for more).

Blackpaint

13.04.10

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Blackpaint 77

February 25, 2010

Courtauld Gallery

As promised yesterday, breakdown of the stuff in this brilliant gallery at the entrance to Somerset House on the Strand.

After Michelangelo, there was a room of Kandinskys, ranging from a “fluffy edged” one to sharp, geometric shapes.

Fauves – Derain, Dufy, Vlaminck, a  nude wife from Van Dongen, some boring Matisses.  A lovely, Matisse-like Ivon Hitchens in an uncharacteristic, square-ish shape.  Sketches from Seurat and Sisley, lots of white sky and blossom, I think.  Miniature figures on the sands from Boudin.

Cezanne – a few trees, a wooded lake (check the reflections – do they really go like that?), a St.Victoire, men in bar.

A couple of Gauguins, one of fields, a garish green – good from a distance.

Manet’s “Bar at the Folies Bergeres”, the one where the girl’s reflection is out of line and the bottles of Bass are on the bar (or is it Worthington?).  Also, a “Dejeuner sur L’herbe” – there must be several, I would think.

There’s a lovely Modigliani girl, best I’ve seen, and some great Degas, especially the black, grey and white woman with the umbrella.

Rubens – 6 or 8, a  sketch of the Deposition from the Cross, well, two actually, one with Christ upside-down and the other, the more famous one of him being lowered right way up.  In both, the man at top of cross has the white sheet in his teeth.  There is also the landscape with the stars.

And Van Gogh – Portrait with Bandaged Ear.

Downstairs, in the Gothic room, there is a triptych by the Master of Flemelles, Robert Campin, another Deposition in those cold, piercing Flemish/German colours.  In the corner is a picture which is crude and rather simple close up, but a work of great, colourful beauty from across the room.

So – it’s a brilliant collection.  Years ago, I used to work for Courtaulds in Norwich, making artificial silk,  running a set of power looms in a noisy weaving shed; but I suppose he’d already bought most of this stuff before that…

Boris Anrep

Not a familiar name to me, but I’ve walked over his work scores of times – he did the two mosaic landings at the National Gallery.  Among the Muses are Greta Garbo and Virginia Woolf, Bertrand Russell is there, Some chap climbing a pylon, A.lice in Wonderland for some reason, and the centrepiece, Churchill, fighting the monster Apollyon, I think.  They are well worth a look.

Listening to “Woman Love” by Gene Vincent:

“I went to the doctor, he said “Lord above!

You need a vaccination of woman love.

Let’s go, cats!” (guitar solo).

Blackpaint

25.02.10