Posts Tagged ‘Fiona Banner’

Blackpaint 237

December 31, 2010

Only half an hour to write the rest of my yearly review:

May 2010 – Henry Moore at Tate Britain.   Great exhibition, lots of sniping from critics.  I liked the early ones with marks scored on them.

May – Futurist room at TM.  That huge WWI Bomberg of the field battery.

May – Fra Angelico to Leonardo at the British Museum.  Not surprisingly, the anatomical drawings of Leo and Mick far outshone the rest.

May – Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh.  Has to be the Melville “abstracts”.

May – “Exposed” at Tate Modern.  Tillmans’ B and W photos of the flats.

June 2010 – Tate Britain; Rude Britannia.  Angus Fairhurst’s cartoons.  Also, the huge Ayres painting that was like bits of breakfast, and the early Bacon room with Goering’s dog.

June – Sally Mann at the Photographers Gallery.  The somewhat sinister pictures of her kids on the riverbanks.

July 2010 – Fiona Banner’ hanging flatfish Harrier at the TB.

July – Turtle Burners’ Portrait prize; the officer after the party.

July – Alice Neel at the Whitechapel; Warhol in his underpants.

August 2010 – Guggenheim, Bilbao; Rauschenberg’s Gluts.

August – Tate Britain; John Riddy’s great photo of tattered posters on a brick wall.

Aug -Frederick Cayley Robinson at the National Gallery; those little red dots in the picture.

Aug – Fakes exhibition at the NG; that terrible “Poussin”.

Aug – Agnes Martin at the TM.  Pristine.

Aug – Francis Alys at the TM; running into the dust storm.

Aug – Wolfgang Tillmans at the Serpentine; fantastic – those tendrils of coloured ink floating across the canvas.

Sept 2010 – Tate St.Ives; stunning Appel and Hoffman.

Sept. – Jeremy Deller’s flattened car from Iraq at the Imperial War Museum.  Is it art?

Sept. – Rachel Whiteread; “bodily fluids” on her bed drawing.

Oct. 2010 – Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seeds; I walked upon them and breathed the dust.

Oct – Gauguin at the TM.  Has to be Jacob Wrestling the Angel.

Oct – Turner Prize.  I would have picked Dexter Dalwood.

Oct – Clive Head at NG.   Yes, they look (to me) exactly like super – enlarged photographs.

Nov 2010 – Bridget Riley at NG.  That Big Flame one – beautiful.

Dec 2010 – Cezanne’s card players and pipe smokers (Courtauld); the little flecks of “dandruff”.

Dec – Tate rehangs; the Spencer “Woolshop” and Bomberg “ju jitsu”, and the Gary Hume cricket.

Dec – British Museum, fabulous drawings, “Picasso to Mehretu”.  I went again today.  Dine, Kitaj, Matisse, Richter …..

Thats it.  Best of the year: Sally Mann, Tillmans, Tate St.Ives, British Museum drawings.

The One that Got Away:  Joan Mitchell in Edinburgh, I’m sorry to say.



Happy New Year.

Blackpaint 162

July 5, 2010

Laura Cumming on Banner

Laura Cumming (Observer, Sunday) says the Harrier is “a predator to the nearby prey of a Sepecat Jaguar lying beached and inverted on the floor.  Both planes are undeniably magnificent, powerful, menacing; and stalled.”  She’s wrong about the Harrier – it’s a caught fish, a skate-ray-shark type thing, hanging dead, waiting to be gutted.  The whole exhibit conveys impotence, not power or menace, although to be fair, she does end by saying the planes, exhibited as they are, “are reduced to – admittedly spectacular – curiosities.”

Dorothy Cross

Reading a catalogue the other day, I came across an artefact by this artist, entitled “Dishes”.  Made in 1992, it consisted of small enamel plates, a bowl and a cup, the last with a cow’s teat stretched over the top.  The catalogue stated that since 92, “she has employed udders on numerous occasions”.

This led me to consider the various odd materials that artists have employed and to want to make a list of them (I’m aware that list making is a classic obsessive activity and I’ve done a few already, so this will join the list of things which I won’t be doing in future in this blog).


  • Dead Animals.  Damien Hirst occurred to me first, but the shark and the sheep and the cow are themselves, albeit “mediated” by Hirst – he hasn’t made anything out of them.  if I included them, I’d have to include Fiona Banner’s planes and really, all other readymades.  I suppose the flies and the rotting meat are a composite, so they count, as do the butterflies. 
  • Blood.  Mark Quinn, Hermann Nitsch and the Vienna Actionists.
  • Sand, sacking and suchlike.  Burri, Tapies, Nicolson, Sandra Blow.
  • Piles of powdered pigment.  Kapoor.
  •  Rotting flowers, fruit and vegetables.  Anya Gallacio.
  • Palm trees, earth, straw.  Anselm Kiefer.
  • Oil.  That Richard Wilson installation that Saatchi exhibited.
  • Elephant dung.  Ofili, of course.
  • Faeces.  Terence  Koh, Piero Manzoni (allegedly – but who knows whether it was really in the tins?) and, no doubt, others.
  • Urine.  Helen Chadwick’s pissholes in the snow, or “Piss Flowers”.
  • all those bits and pieces used by “Art Informel” and Arte Povera artists, the collagists like Schwitters, etc.
  • Fat and felt.  No prizes.

In fact, I’m going to stop here, because the list becomes ridiculous, when you include sculpture and installation.

Necrotic Art

Photos of corpses by Sally Mann, photo of Damien posing with a head, dead mother  of Dorothy Todd  in the turtle burners’ Portrait Prize, plus the organic items listed above, lead me to wonder if body parts or even whole bodies might one day be exhibited as art, either as readymades or material.  After all, mummies, Lindow Man, dried-out corpses can all be seen in the British Museum and a host of other institutions – but they are “science”, medicine maybe, anthropology at least.  I suppose you could argue that Von Hagen is already doing it with his plastination roadshow, which undeniably has artistic as well as scientific aspects.  Plastination, however, prevents decomposition and sanitises (so I’ve heard).  I’m sure that considerations of decency and good taste would prevail……



Blackpaint 161

July 1, 2010

The planes at the Tate

To the Tate Britain to see Fiona Banner’s ultimate readymades.  One is a chrome-plated Jaguar lying upside-down on the hall floor like a discarded toy.  It’s smaller than I expected; a lady passing with a young child asked me if I thought it was bigger or smaller than a dinosaur.  As an expert, I told her smaller, confidently.  With this abandoned air, it had something of an electric toaster about it.  I peered into a large, box-like attachment on the fuselage – nothing but darkness.

The other one, the Harrier, hangs nose down a little way away.  It is grey, with swirly marks on the wings (made, I think, by Banner – so, not entirely readymades, some artist input beyond the choice); it resembles, quite strikingly, a giant ray or shark, hanging from a fisherman’s gibbet, or gallows or whatever they have.  The glass or plexiglass of the cockpit was smoked, like a blown lightbulb.  The grey body looked organic, with bumps and scars and blisters.  I didn’t lie underneath the nose lance, like Adrian Searle, although there were plenty of amateur photographers lying about, taking artistic views.

I thought the information about the exhibit was quite funny, in an ironic way: Banner apparently does a lot of work relating to language and communication – the blurb said the two planes represented a “lack or breakdown in communication” – if you imagine these objects tearing through the skies towards you with destructive intent, you can see what she  means.  i was most struck, I think, by the contrast between the tinny shininess of the one and the organic, fleshy greyness of the other.

Of course, this is not the first time a plane has been on show in the Tate Britain; just a while back, Roger Hiorns had a powdered jumbo jet there, as part of the Turner Prize show. 

Gillian Ayres

One of the portals off the main hall perfectly framed her “Phaethon”, and I suppose the contrast worked to enhance the impact of it; the thickness of the slabs and squiggles of lurid colour seemed to be a sort of exaggerated denial of the clean(ish) lines and hard(ish) edges of the planes – as if she was saying, “No, that’s not art – THIS sort of thing is art!”

St.Ives Room

There’s a new Bryan Wynter – “Riverbed” has been replaced by another, very similar, Wynter.  And I noticed, for the very first time, that Lanyon’s “Lost Mine” has two human figures in it – presumably miners.  They are huge and quite clear; impossible to miss, really, and I’ve stood in front of this painting for probably 30-40 minutes, if you add up all the times I’ve been there, and not seen them.  Maybe I was distracted by the Orion-like shape of the central motif (well, it isn’t the central motif, of course, but was to me until I made out the figures).


Which brings me to the last thing this visit; there’s a little exhibition in a side gallery about Lanyon’s painting of this picture.  it took several months and was meticulously planned with a number of sketches, photographs, and maquettes of different aspects of the town – several of them lovely drawings and objects in their own right.  You really get the feel of Lanyon’s meticulous, engineer’s approach.

Listening to Faithful  Departed, Christy Moore.

“Faithful departed, we fickle hearted,

As you are now, so once were we,

Faithful departed, we the meek hearted,

With graces imparting, bring flowers to thee.”