Posts Tagged ‘Gauguin’

Blackpaint 543 – The oranges are not the only fruit…

April 30, 2016

Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art at the National Gallery

Gauguin still life

Gauguin, Still Life with a Delacroix

I have to say that I thought the Delacroixs (is that the proper plural?) were awful, on the whole.  They were melodramatic, exotic in a bad way and somehow dowdy; the brushwork looked dry and the colours lurid.  Then I looked at the work online and it was brilliant – luscious brushwork, fervid energy, piercing colour.  Just shows how photography has a glamorising effect on paintings, something I’ve noted before.

Then again, it could be I’ve been corrupted by all those repros you used to get in furniture shops in the 50s and 60s; Arab boys, Spanish flamenco dancers, harbour scenes – Delacroix is just too exotic for me.

The stunning Gauguin still life above is, for my money, the best thing on show, but there are great paintings by Degas, Redon, Moreau (not so great), Cezanne, two more Gauguins (one brilliant, the other terrible) and some awful Renoirs – but I have a blind spot about the latter, can’t stand his work.

Better show a Delacroix, after all, it’s his show, so:

delacroix algerian women

Algerian Women in their Apartments

See, it looks great as a photo.

Making your Ears Tingle

I’m reading Kings II in the King James Bible at the moment and here are three quotations that made me sit up:

Hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you? (2 Kings 18, 27)

Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. (2 Kings 21, 12)

…and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down. (2 Kings 22, 13).

Pithy, eh?

The Hollow Crown – Richard II

hollow crown

Ben Whishaw perfectly cast, in my view; not an easy play to make work with all that rhyming verse – brilliant poetry, but it can sound quaint as dialogue, which it never does in this version.

The director does three art things in the murder scene at the end:

He has Richard, naked except for a loincloth, clamber to his feet, first sticking his rear high in the air in a direct echo of the Bacon/Muybridge boy;

Richard is slaughtered by crossbow arrows – up to now, he’s been Christ, now he’s St. Sebastian;

His body is dragged in a coffin before the usurper, Henry IV.  The corpse is twisted in the manner of those curving Christs on the crucifix by Cimabue et al.

 

Conceptual Art in Britain 1964 – 1979 (Tate Britain)

keith arnatt

I was determined to go round this without spending hours reading.  Consequently, I was round it in about fifteen minutes; there’s not much to look at apart from words.

A pyramid of oranges by Roeloff Louw from which you are supposed to help yourself (I presume they replace them);

oranges

A photo sequence of Keith Arnatt eating his own words (above);

A photo sequence of KA gradually disappearing into a hole in the ground;

Bruce McLean (in a photo sequence), performing contortions in spaces between plinths;

Michael Craig – Martin‘s glass of water/oak tree;

A long rolled-up fabric “machine” in the colours of the stars and stripes by John Latham – didn’t find out what it did;

A heap of builder’s sand by Barry Flanagan;

Some vitrines with magazines in them, some about the Singing Sculpture by Gilbert and George, in which they painted themselves gold – very influential maybe, given the resemblance to the living sculptures outside the National Gallery.

The rest was writing, including much work by Art & Language – strong on the latter, not much of the former.  Some quite turgid Marxism on one wall – turned out to be Trotsky.  I don’t scorn conceptual work, I should say; I just don’t see it as useful for me to speculate on the concepts which may or may not be involved; probably get them wrong, anyway.

Two of mine, to finish:

St.George

St.George Death Stroke (WIP from last blog)

And my attempt at a still life, in homage to Gauguin:

still life

Still Life with Pomegranate 

Blackpaint 

30.04.16

 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 532 – Brussels, Tolstoy, Magritte and those balls – what are they? – they’re Bells!

February 14, 2016

Musee Des Beaux Arts, Brussels

icarus

It’s not actually called this any more, though the Brueghel painting of Icarus plummeting into the ocean that inspired the famous Auden poem is still there; it’s divided into three, or actually four bits (the modern one is closed at the moment), all in the one huge building: the Magritte museum, the “fin-de-siecle” museum and the mighty “museum of Ancient Art” are the sections open at the moment.  The building is at the top of the “Mountain of Art”; big, freezing, windswept square, lines of pollarded trees, watch for the mouse running under the waste basket, turn right after the massive library.

the-fair-captive

The Fair Captive

Magritte first; lots of cloudy skies in window frames, mirrors and easels; skin changing into wood grain or bricks; doves made of leaves; owls in threatening groups; bowler-hatted men (of course) – and those curious metallic balls with the horizontal slots in them, that also feature, I think, in some Max Ernst paintings.  What are they, I wonder.  Looked it up – they’re bells, like you hang round horses’ necks, apparently.

magritte balls

So far, so usual Magritte, but I was interested to see some of his colourful early poster work – I had’t known he was an ad man, but it makes perfect sense; the “surrealism” is often a neat little transposition, tidily illustrated (it’s night in the urban street, dark, street lights on outside the little villas – but it’s broad daylight in the sky above the tall trees) and often he uses the same image several times, slightly adapted, with a different “surreal” name.

villa magritte

There is a startling and inexplicable style change in the 40s(?); the usual neat precision gives way to rough-drawn, pink/brown/yellow pastel colours for a few pictures.  I checked, they were still oil on canvas; but then back to the familiar style again.

the-explanation magritte

The Explanation

Fin – de – Siecle

Some terrific stuff in here: Vogel,  the awful weather painter; that is, the weather’s awful, not the paintings.  It’s always raining, snowing or maybe just grey and drizzly in his town and village streets; Van Rysselbergh,  nothing special, landscapes in lines and stipples – but what a name!  Ranks with Van Dongen and Vantongerloo in my book (yes, there is one Van Gogh, portrait of a young man); Rops and Spillaert, both with loads of paintings, as if the museum director had said “OK, get cracking, we’ll take the lot.” And Finch again!  (see Blackpaint on Helsinki, August 2015).

Some little Kollwitz etchings. reminiscent of Goya penitents, that great Bonnard of his wife stretching, standing naked against the window in the bathroom – where else? – some good Toulouse Lautrec drawings, three Gauguins (two great, one awful) – but the real surprise was Ensor.

Ensor Chinese%20Porcelain%20with%20Fans,%201880

Chinese Porcelain

There were a couple of the cartoon-y clown/mask ones, the sinister ones he’s famous for,  but several good, chunky, almost social -realist pictures and a lovely still life with a central blob of red, a dish I think.  And “The Skate” (below):

Ensor_TheSkate

Ensor boy with lamp

The Lamplighter, Ensor

The last museum, “Ancient Art”, was so rich and enormous that I’m leaving it until the next blog.

On Thursday, we walked beyond the “Mountain of Art” and a huge, depressing palace on our right, towards Jubelpark and Musees Royeaux d’art et d’histoire …..  We trudged along a grey, freezing avenue of empty office blocks and building sites, as traffic tore past, terrifyingly close to very narrow pavements.  A great, glass EU building on the right reared above us and we didn’t notice it, so intent were we on keeping to the kerb.  It was easy to imagine it empty and to let, like all the others…..

The park was pure Magritte, though; neat, tidy, squared off, depressing; someone walking a little dog (loads of dogshit around – Magritte never put that in a picture, I think).  But there were busts of people, sculpted with their bodies apparently enclosed in boxes – and their bare feet poking out at the bottom.

If you eat in the museum restaurant, don’t have the “Americain” – it’s a hefty, cake – sized lump of raw hamburger meat, served with capers, salad and chips; delicious!

Kreuzer Sonata, Tolstoy

Inspired by the TV War and Peace, I’m reading this novella, which I thought I might finish on Eurostar; no such luck.  The views expressed – not sure how far they are Tolstoy’s own; probably all – make Zvyagintsev’s taciturn male bullies look like Hackney hipsters by comparison.

latest wip

The Siege of Brussels (Work in progress)

Blackpaint

14.02.16

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 254

February 25, 2011

London Street Photography

At the Museum of London.  As always, with photography like this, there is the historical interest: clothes, transport, shops, trades… but there are four whose work jumps out:

Wolfgang Suschitsky – a single blossom tree in a misty street, reminiscent (to me, anyway) of Whistler; and a night scene of a man pushing a milk cart past the neon-lit frontage of the “Revudebar”.  It turns out that he’s a famous cinematographer who worked on “Get Carter”, “Theatre of Blood” and the “Ulysses” which starred Milo O’Shea as the definitive Bloom, TP McKenna as Buck Mulligan and for some reason, is always described as a failed project.  Of course it fails to present the book adequately – how could it not?  Fantastic success in its own right, however.

Back to Suschitzky – born in 1912, still living, son Peter also a cinematographer (Naked Lunch and other Cronenburg films).

Humphrey Spender – A beautifully “lit” view of a lake or riverside with sitters on grass and  swans, I think; Seurat via Cartier Bresson.  Stephen’s brother, worked for Mass Observation, most photos of cloth-capped workers, factories, mills, stadiums – only one other I could find on Google like this one, on a river or canal bank in North East.

Terry Spencer – Mods and skinheads; I thought Terry was probably a Mod himself, but no – Spitfire pilot, DFC, record for baling out of an aircraft at lowest height, subsequently war photographer…

Roger Mayne – Those great shots of Notting Hill boys and girls in the 50s.

In all above cases, I recommend Google Images to see some beautiful photographic art.

Courtauld Gallery

Bellini, Assassination of Peter Martyr – gory murder in a forest, knife lodged in his head, “CREDO” written in his own blood on ground, the surrounding chopped tree trunks bleeding in sympathy.

Signorelli, Massacre of the Innocents, little picture in which dead babies lie around marinating in pools of their own blood – he’s a real sensationalist.  His Last Judgement in Orvieto Cathedral on TV the other night (Fig Leaf, see last blog) green demons dragging the damned to the pit – a real cartoon feel to it, in the modern sense.  I like him -he’s the graphic novel version.  There’s a touch of that to Michelangelo’s too, but more classy.

Gauguin, Haystacks, a sort of huge, incoming yellow wave of hay rolling towards the viewer, white-capped women surfing it with hayforks.  Thinly painted, outlined, a “drawn” quality.

British Art Show 7 – “In the Days of the Comet”

At the Hayward.  A lot to write about so I’ll do a couple today and carry on next time.

Phoebe Unwin – Proper paintings, hints of Clough, Hodgkin and maybe Rauschenburg.  Silver Shower, a showerhead against a background of aluminium foil; another like a stack of cake slices, thin red filling..

Charles Avery – A long, white, cartoon riverside panorama; hotel with a lot of sex going on in windows; dogs cavorting, a big shop or restaurant at top of picture, a ship coming in on right.. a long, jokey title, seems to be a feature of this exhibition.

Also – A big glass case containing a desert scene, sand, snakes, broken glass a young woman in shorts and a see through shirt, reflected on outside of case; a big excrescence on top of case – glazed triangles stuck together like a bunch of coagulated wigwams.

Roger Hiorns – Transparent globs of epoxy resin, distorted by application of heat, perhaps, hanging from ceiling.  Also – a complete engine and drive shaft (?) just lying flat on the floor like a dead pterodactyl.

We waited by the bench to see if the naked man turned up; every so often, he comes to the bench and a small fire starts up under it.  On this occasion, we were disappointed – no show.

Enough for today; more tomorrow.

Blackpaint

25.02.11

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.

Blackpaint

31/12/10

Happy New Year.

Blackpaint 221

November 19, 2010

The Nabis

It means prophets in Hebrew.  This group was made up of Bonnard, Serusier, Maurice Denis, Vuillard, Ranson and others.  Why I mention it is the amazing story of “The Talisman”; this was a panel painted in 1888 by Serusier, under the guidance and instruction of Gauguin, who they regarded as their master.  Serusier brought back the painting, entitled “The Bois d’Amour a Pont – Aven”,   like Moses with the tablets of stone, and it was treated as their guiding star by the rest of the group.  It is a highly stylised landscape, with a large yellow colour field, an orange-red bridge leading to a blue house with bright blue river and patches in background; very flat surface.  The flatness of the picture plane was of the essence, as was the intensity of the colours. 

I love these obsessive little movements with their fixed ideas and absolute rules (see stuff on Mondrian and van Doesburg in Blackpaint 60 and 61, February 2010). 

Also of interest about Bonnard is that he won a poster competition for France – Champagne and his poster apparently influenced Toulouse Lautrec; TL subsequently painted habitually in this style, whereas Bonnard abandoned it immediately.  The Bonnard poster is really like a Lautrec – you would assume it was one, if you were not told otherwise.

Before leaving Bonnard (for today – he’s too interesting to neglect for long), I must mention “White Interior”; there’s a table corner in it, which he maybe positioned wrongly, or maybe just wished to show with different articles on it, so he painted it again, further to the right – and left the first one in.  Looks OK; why change it?

Leonardo

I’ve been looking at his wonderful portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, the one of the demure young girl with the ermine.  In Leonardo’s day, the ermine was a symbol of purity because of its fastidious ways;  apparently, it didn’t like getting its fur dirty.

How times have changed; an ermine is a stoat, which is a close relative of the weasel.  What would we now make of a portrait of a young woman fondling an alert and rather predatory looking weasel?  Not purity, I would think, even if the fur was white.

Quiz for today

Raphael also painted a lady holding an animal symbolising virtue, though this one was mythical; what was it?

Angel of Mons by Blackpaint

19.11.10

Blackpaint 201

October 1, 2010

Gauguin

Review of the new exhibition at Tate Modern by Adrian Searle in Guardian this week said Gauguin had re-emerged in the work of Peter Doig and Chris Ofili.  Hadn’t thought of this before, but he’s right, in my view.  Easy to see why Ofili, the relocation to Trinidad, the choice of local subject matter, even the use of colour – the central picture in the Guardian article is suffused with a shade of mauve reminiscent of Ofili’s latest work (at least, the work exhibited recently at the other London Tate).

Why Doig?  his paintings, after all, are usually enigmas, in a way that Gauguin’s are not, or are not intended to be.  I suppose it’s simply that sometimes they resemble one another in their use of tropical location, colours and configuration.

He also mentions Tuymans – have to think about that one!

Rauschenberg

He uses the word “schwandel” or “schwendel” when discussing red paintings in “Painters painting” in a manner which suggests he thinks it would be  a familiar term to viewers; what is he talking about?  Is this a term in frequent use in the art world? 

Grown up Politics

I know it’s nothing to do with art, but I have now heard or seen this term used not only by the insufferable prick of a Lib Dem MP (see Blackpaint 197) but Toby Young on TV and Polly Toynbee in the Guardian.  Another phrase which seems to have spread like germs on a toilet door handle is “wriggle room”, sometimes delivered as “wiggle room”.

Exhibition

Tomorrow.  Haven’t done the titles or prices yet – panic!  Closing now…

Blackpaint – Old one

Listening to Richard Thompson, Vincent Black Lightning 1952

“I see angels and Ariels in leather and chrome,

Swinging down from heaven to carry me home,”

And he gave her one last kiss and died –

And he gave her his Vincent to ride.”

Blackpaint

October 1st

Blackpaint 200

September 27, 2010

Gerhard Hoehme

Fantastic painting, ” the Wild Blue Picture”,  in “Action Painting – Jackson Pollock” (Hatje Cantz).  Also a number of grey and/or cream collages involving pins and wires or threads wound round them, sometimes multi-coloured.  Have a look – more interesting than I’ve made them sound.  Hoehme, like Sam Francis and  Joseph Beuys, was a flier in WWII – he died in 1989.

Huang Yong Ping

Wrote about Huang’s work in last blog, but knew nothing about him (didn’t stop me writing, of course).  He left China in 1989 and has since lived in Paris.  I should havr included him in my list of artists who use strange materials (see Blackpaint 162) – he has used live snakes and scorpions and stuffed bats.  Had a show in UK at Curve in 2009; it commented on Anglo-Chinese history, mainly Palmerston and the Opium Wars.

Next example of artists whose work can be linked in a totally dubious way – (although I think this comparison is actually quite fair)

 Cecily Brown and Elizabeth Neel.  Have a look at their work on Google.  I think Neel’s is actually more abstract;  Brown tends to conceal bodies – often naked and engaged in sex – in a mass of foliage or swarming brush strokes.  They have a link through Bacon; neither resemble Bacon in style, but they both have used his scenarios and motifs. 

Gauguin

Since there is a “blockbuster” exhibition about to start, I thought I would get in early by mentioning “The Vision after the Sermon (Jacob and the Angel)” 1888.  It’s at the NG of Scotland in Edinburgh and I’ve probably written about it in an earlier blog.  That red against the white of the women’s caps… The women are watching the fight, but in their imaginations, of course.  To my eyes, its a totally atypical Gauguin and I would never have recognised it as such, without being told.

Seurat 

Whilst I’m in Edinburgh, mentally that is, I should refer to Seurat’s “la  Luzerne, Saint Denis”; recently, I realised that I had used the phrase “positively seethes” twice in quick succession, when referring to surfaces.  If I were still using the phrase, I would use it here.  Seurat’s field of alfalfa and poppies appears to be alive with worms of colour, red, yellow, green and blue.

Japan and China

Two works to mention, just because they are staggeringly beautiful and very old.  The first is Japanese, “The Tale of Genji”, sea(?) green and light brown on paper with a pattern of heads like abstract black clocks, by an unknown artist from 1130.  The Chinese one is by the Emperor Song Huizong, from 1112; it is entitled “Auspicious Cranes”.  Again, ink and colour, this time on silk, light brown mist(?) rises around the palace gateway and against the grey-blue sky, 2o cranes, black and white, circle or perch.  Both of these works are in the Phaidon “30,ooo years of art”.

No Name as yet – Blackpaint

 26.09.10

 

 

Blackpaint 25

December 31, 2009

Gauguin

Yesterday, I was reading Hadley Freeman’s column in Guardian, in which she happened to bring up Gauguin in relation to the fim “Avatar”.  Unfortunately, I chucked the paper away (in the recycle bin, of course) and since then it’s found its way to the bin outside – and I’m not going sorting through that.

I was under the impression that she had written something like this, referring to the portrayal of the native population of the planet under attack: “Add in a couple of orange brush strokes and you will have something like a Gauguin and just as patronising, simplistic and offensive”.  I thought this was good, a controversial viewpoint to blog about – especially since today’s Guardian has a reference to a forthcoming Gauguin show at Tate Modern with the following words: “His art, however, is a time bomb, still ticking in the 21st century”.  This sounds pretty positive to me; not the sort of thing you’d write about someone patronising, simplistic, etc.

However, I checked her article online before writing, and it seems to have changed.  It now reads, “Add in a couple of orange brush strokes and you have a Gauguin painting.  It (the portrayal) is patronising, simplistic and offensive, like Palin and fake science.”  I suppose this still implies that Gauguin’s paintings are P, S and O, but the attack is  diverted through the easier targets of Palin and fake science.

Well, I could be totally wrong; on the other hand, at the bottom of the online article, it says “as amended on 30/12/09”.  If anyone cares enough to clear this up for me, I’d be grateful – tonight would be good, as I have not been invited to see the New Year in with anyone.  I wonder why.

For the record, I was wondering if you can patronise people who don’t exist (the people in the film, not the Tahitians Gauguin painted).  I suppose one is patronising the people who these fictional people resemble – or you think they resemble.  That could be dangerous in itself; who is to say that they see it, or themselves,  as you do?  This can be a recurring  problem for liberals and left wingers and all those who regularly feel and express indignation on behalf of others.

Since I can write what I like and no-one is reading anyway, I’m now going to do a U turn; I think it is P and S, but I think that Cameron was doing that PM thing of referencing other films (see last blog) and so, not particularly O.  But my son Tom violently disagrees and is doing a chemistry degree, so I suppose he must be right.

Postmodernism

I got “Art Theory for Beginners” for Christmas, one of those books which have cartoons and look really simple – until you read the accompanying text.  I’ve been reading about all those French philosophers, Derrida, Lyotard, Barthes, Baudrillard etc., in an attempt to give my own poor work some sort of spurious status by linking it to some “proper” movement or idea.  No success yet, but will continue to try.

Scandos

Another painting each from Jorn and Kirkeby, re my spurious thesis in last blog.

Jorn

Kirkeby

Watched Festen.  I think the ending was sentimental.  The family should have backed the father up to the bitter end.

Listened to “Cold, Cold Feeling”, by T Bone Walker (in “When did you last see your father?” by Blake Morrison – he must have had the same EP as me in the early 60s).

“I got a cold, cold feeling, it’s just like ice around my heart, (*2)

I know I’m gonna quit somebody, every time that feelin’ starts.”

Blackpaint

31.12.09

Happy New Year.