Posts Tagged ‘Frank Stella’

Blackpaint 611 – Caravaggio, de Ribera and the Catflap

November 28, 2017

National Gallery – de Ribera, Caravaggio

I got the Taschen Caravaggio for my birthday and I have to say that I’ve revised my whole system of preferences on 16th/17th century art: the stylistic realism (Death of the Virgin, for instance; an actual dead body, no choirs of angels on cloudbanks), the drama and focus of the figures emerging from the gloom and the subtle use of colour (green, blue, red and ochre in The Entombment of Christ) – and those muscular arms, hands and feet (The Crucifixion of St. Peter); fantastic.  Unfortunately, only two Caravaggios currently on display at the NG and none of those I’ve mentioned.  The NG has The Boy Bitten by a Lizard and a Supper at Emmaus; both brilliant but very familiar.

Entombment of Christ

Crucifixion of St. Peter

Akin to Caravaggio in style, born 20 years later  in Spain but moved to Rome, de Ribera is another stunning painter of twisted bodies emerging from a surrounding darkness.  His bodies tend to be white, shading into the murk in a sort of dry sfumato; they are often sprawling across huge canvases, as in the Prado.  Exhibition coming to Dulwich Picture Gallery next year, which will be one not to miss.

Lamentation over the Dead Christ, Jusepe de Ribera

Again, only two Riberas on show in the NG; this one, and another of some biblical character – Laban? – with a goat.  No chiarascuro (the Spanish followers of the Caravaggio style were called Tenebrists); looks like a completely different painter.

In Holofernes’ Tent, Johann Liss

I had to include this; Caravaggio did the same subject, setting it a few seconds earlier, when Judith was sawing the head off.  This one though has the most remarkable rendering of the folds and billows of Judith’s white chemise.  The detail hasn’t come out so well in the photo – it needs to be seen on the wall.

London Group Open Exhibition, The Cello Factory, Cornwall Road – last day Friday, 1st December

Great little gallery in the streets behind the South Bank opposite the ITV tower.  London Group venerable, founded by Camden Town and Vorticist painters (Gilman, Gore, Wyndham Lewis et al).  There is a Frank Bowling – you can see it below, pink, grey and yellow in the middle, end wall on right – at £48,000, but the others are more reasonably priced;  my partner’s diptych, “Catflap” (below) , for example.

 

Catflap (diptych) Marion Jones

It’s a very eclectic collection; the one thing I noticed was that there were a lot of windows in the paintings.

Monochrome, National Gallery

If the London Group was “diverse”, this outstrips it by a mile; Mantegna, Van Eyck, Bruegel, Memling, Moreau – to Stella, Malevich, Ellsworth Kelly, Picasso, Marlene Dumas.  It ends with a room suffused with orange light, by Eliasson.  It goes from grisaille and drypoint to the black square, Stella’s thin white geometric lines, a Las Meninas sketch by Picasso.  Some great works but a little colourless….

Ingres

 

Dumas

My latest to finish with-

Crossfire

Blackpaint

28/11/17

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 319 – The Slipping Glimpser

January 16, 2012

De Kooning

I gave myself the Thames and Hudson Retrospective of DK for Christmas.  It seems to me that you need a label different from Abstract Expressionism to fit him – a third part of his work seems to me to be figures, another third landscape in some way and only maybe a third abstract.  Proportions probably wrong, but you get my drift, no doubt.  I was interested to read that he called himself a “slipping glimpser” – nice phrase, which I take to mean he tried to capture some fleeting moment, or movement, or impression that he received on the corner of the eye or maybe was gone before he could even identify it, like catching hold of a dream.  I’m not sure this would make any sense in the context of abst ract painting – but it certainly does with figurative.  Trying to think of other painters who do that, and Bacon and Auerbach come to mind. 

Sometimes it’s hard to describe or pin down painters’ techniques (or tricks – or is that the same thing?)   I remember in the Diebenkorn book, Jane Livingston talks about Dieb.’s subversion of his own graphic skills, to draw intentionally awkwardly, “even clumsily”, to achieve the effect he wanted.  I think that she means the achievement of a rich surface by means of  smeared or broken lines, reworkings with “ghost” marks left in, clotted, grooved or scraped areas.. or maybe she is referring to his figurative paintings, his drawing style. 

The Artist

Saw this last week, and was unable to understand the universal acclaim.  I found the jaunty music and silent movie cliche really irritating at first, but as the story deepened and the charm of the two stars took hold, I enjoyed it more.  Nevertheless, an hour after seeing it, it was fading from my mind.  The French do pastiche very well, though.  I used to go to the Django Reinhart Gypsy Jazz festival at Samois every year, and whatever type of jazz was being performed – blues, jug band, Glenn Miller, bebop – a French ensemble was there to do it perfectly.

Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the ICA

Website tells me this is now finished, but I was intrigued by the relatively few paintings and sculptures on show.  There was one that resembled a Frank Stella; dreamcatcher shape, smooth surfaces, straight lines, airbrushed – “cherry” as the Cool School would have called it; another, the opposite, roughly painted, crude colouring, called “Garden ghosts” I think; another composed of long green and brown and yellow(?) streaks, like an abstraction of a tropical tree, a bit Richter or Irvin maybe.  What occurred to me was that, despite their differences, they shared with the smaller sculptures the advantage of being easily saleable, transportable and hangable;  Ideal commodities, that is to say.  How the hell do you sell a shallow flight of stairs, leading to a narrow window, which lights up every few minutes? 

The Mystery of Appearance, Haunch of Venison, Bond Street

Free exhibition of English painters of 60s on – Auerbach, Freud, Bacon, Kossoff, Hockney et al.  Three beautiful Auerbachs, two of Primrose Hill, but the best a very small picture of a prone male(?) figure lying face down, it appears.  The background is dark grey or brown, with a raised central square panel, and the figure is picked out in loops or petals of white, green and blue-maybe yellow too-paint.  Then, there is a large Andrews, a reach of the Thames or some such that has a tract of mud and shifting sand that recalls the surface of the early Sandra Blow pictures.  Another Andrews is a large reception at Norwich Castle, showing Frank Thistlethwaite, the VC of University of East Anglia when I was there.  I recognised the painting – I think it hung somewhere at UEA, the Union maybe.  What I didn’t know was that the blobby nature of the faces wasn’t just bad brushwork, but a comment on the old Victorian- style VIP painting. Like Diebenkorn, intentionally clumsy.

Blackpaint

16.01.12

Blackpaint 290

August 26, 2011

More from the Guggenheim Bilbao

Kenneth Noland – “April Time”; a huge yellow ochre colour field with pastel green, orange and toothpaste borders.  Also “Time Shift”; equally huge blue and green chevron on white field.

Frank Stella – Orange and pink, airbrushed ? half wheels, in fluorescent paint, cut to shape.  Check out Stella in the 60s in the DVD Painters on Painting – he’s like a young Woody Allen, with a strong sense of grievance.

Morris Louis – “Saraband”; acrylic resin on canvas.  Stripes of dulled colour, oranges,  crimson, greens,  dulled by layering over darker pigment.

Helen Frankenthaler -” Canal”; poured acrylic on unbleached canvas, blue/orange, staining to blue  , then to grey.

I think I’m right in saying that there are only three women painters amongst the abstractionists on show: Frankenthaler, da Silva and Elaine de Kooning (a lovely painting like a sheaf of highly coloured leaves).  There are more female sculptors and conceptualists, however, in the sections entitled (for some non-luminous reason) “The Luminous Interval”:

Kiki Smith –   a group of body sculptures; body with scarf “entrails” dangling; pile of heads, legs, arms linked by a chain; severed, bloody forearms, palms up, on a cushion “bed”; a leaden man bent double as if touching toes, a great scab of slag enclosing his backside; tiny black bacon rasher-like things, on tiny tables; a man-thing crouching half way up a wall with a long strip of black shit emerging from the anus – title: “Shitbody”.  So, some fairly physical items there.

Annette Messager – An enormous exhibit of dolls, gloves, stockings and a multitude of other fabric-based bits and pieces, hanging from red threads to make a sort of tree thing.

Louise Bourgeois – hands and forearms entwined on a stone block, in a cage, surrounded by large circular mirrors.

Mona Hatoum – room-sized, open “crate” made of shelving, containing light bulbs going on and off.

Rachel Whiteread – Flat-bottomed, amber coloured wax bath mould; white bookshelves with whited-out books and white boxes on platforms.

Marina Abramovic – her strangely sexy – maybe it’s just me – video of her scrubbing the skeleton (sounds like an Australian metaphor), previously described at the Whitechapel Gallery.

Wanguchi Muti – Darkened room with a wall of fox(?) pelts at one end, scores of upside-down wine bottles dripping onto a long table.  Strong smell of stale wine.

Common elements – use of whole rooms, body parts, hanging things, bodily functions, cages. 

Last word on Gug next blog.

Alexander Nevsky

You can see that Olivier saw Eisenstein’s film before making Henry V; there’s the baggage train, the shower of arrows, the charge (across ice instead of green fields), even the single combat between Alexander (Henry) and the Grandmaster of the Teutonic Knights (Constable of France).  Branagh’s 1991 remake of Henry V owes more to Welles’  “Chimes at Midnight” than Olivier’s Henry – especially the mud and blood and  slow motion in the battle scenes, as well as Robbie Coltrane’s brief turn as Falstaff.  One place where Olivier’s version still stands way above Branagh’s is the speech before the battle; Olivier didn’t see fit to ruin it by having “stirring” music swelling behind Shakespeare’s words. 

Conversations with Fellini, edited by Costanzo Costantini (Harvest,1995)

A fascinating book, in the sense that the questions are shaped to appear tricky, demanding, sometimes aggressive – but which Fellini fields with self-deprecation, humour and beautifully turned metaphors.  The book is fraudulent, therefore, but the fraud is clearly  part of the Fellini package, so it rings true to the man.  Mastroianni was clearly born to play Fellini’s alter ego.

Blackpaint

25/08/11

Blackpaint 91

March 19, 2010

Hooray, hooray – computer seems alright today

Black

Must be the influence of Ad – I’ve started covering, or nearly covering canvas in black paint, thick, with short horizontal and vertical interwoven brushstrokes.  Unlike Ad – my purpose and focus is not as clear as his – I then add lighter colours such as ochre and white/grey.  It’s different; but is it good?

Not like this – I did this one ages ago – but like this

Apart from Reinhardt, there has been a bunch of painters who have done black paintings: Malevich of course, Franz Kline (they look like black on plain canvas, but actually black and white), Pierre Soulages, Frank Stella and Rothko – actually dark grey, but look black.  Amongst British painters, William Scott .

Henry Moore

Lovely Culture Show programme last night, with that great colour shot of the freight train travelling across the American (or maybe Canadian) prairie with a huge, knuckly Moore in two pieces, lashed onto a flatbed freightcar.  The Laura Cumming’s reference to his “knitted tie” (see Blackpaint 80) was sort of explained; he was apparently never without a tie.  There was a television DIY man in the 50s called Barry Bucknall, who always wore a collar and tie, sleeveless jumper and shirt with sleeves rolled up high – Moore reminded me of him.  Also, Michael Hordern; the absent-minded expression maybe – and, oddly, a meek Ted Hughes, if that’s not a contradiction.  Probably because they were both Yorkshiremen.

Listening to “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult – horrible words encouraging suicide, but a compelling chord sequence and hypnotic harmonies.

Blackpaint, now painting it black,

20.03.10