Posts Tagged ‘Germaine Greer’

Blackpaint 396 – Mummy Goes to the Tate

May 30, 2013

Tate Rehang

A couple of dozy errors last week – obviously getting old.  first, Gainsborough.  I said there was a picture by G that looked just like a Hogarth, and nothing like the feathery, impressionistic portraits that characterise Gainsborough.  But of course, G did “Mr and Mrs Andrews”, which is similar in style to the family group in the Tate, and which I’d forgotten about.  So, Gainsborough changed his style between 1750 and 1780; not very earth-shattering.

And Fiona Rae – I wrongly located her next to Frank Bowling and opposite the Anthony Caro red metal sculpture.  She’s actually in a different room, opposite Peter Doig. It’s Peter Blake’s portrait of David Hockney with coloured balloons that is near the Bowling.  So what? you ask – well, the room with the Caro, Bowling and Blake is by far the most attractive room in the whole Gallery when viewed as a whole from the archway at the end; and I said as much last week.

Rose Wylie

There is a whole room full of Wylie’s huge, rough, cartoon-y paintings, reminiscent (a bit) of Guston and cartoonist Barry Fantoni; they look like they are done on board or cardboard by a punky youngster – Wylie is 77 years old, a trained artist and ex-lecturer.  I like them, especially her Nazi generals (see below), a painting inspired by the Tarantino film “Inglorious Basterds”.

wylie

Why are they there, though?  There seems no obvious reason why her pictures should get a room in the Tate rather than any other artist – apart from the fact that, being huge, they look good.  Maybe the answer lies in Germaine Greer’s support.  In 2010, she wrote a big puff for Wylie in the Guardian, pointing out that she had deferred her painting until her children were raised, Greer had bought a couple of her pictures and that there were others available.

Greer began her article by saying that in Wylie’s house, there were two working artists.  She then wrote exclusively about Wylie, not naming Roy Oxlade, Wylie’s husband.  Why say there were two artists, then write about only one?  Pathetic.

Mummy

At Tate Britain, with my 90 year old mother-in-law, ex- 1st violinist with Amsterdam Philharmonic and Liverpool Philharmonic, bit deaf but as sharp as a razor – addressed by the attendant as “Mummy”… “Shall I get Mummy a wheelchair?”  Thank goodness she didn’t hear him.  I suppose he was being kind, but still…

James Salter

Reading three Salters at once; “Light Years” and “Burning the Days” I’ve read before.  I’m interested to find that the new book, “All That Is”,  is actually an easier read than the first two, despite the fact that Salter is now 87 years old; maybe he’s more interested in getting the story told now, than in coming up with surprising and original metaphors.  All three are beautifully written, though.  I read a short story by him in the Saturday Telegraph Review – about a long affair and its end.  Only two pages long. but halfway through, Salter states that the woman let her lover whip her once.  Why?  Seems odd just to bung a whipping in gratuitously….  Maybe it went on more in Salter’s younger days….

Dan In Real Life

This Steve Carell/ Juliette Binoche vehicle on TV the other night; one of those US films, usually set in New England (this one’s Rhode Island), where there’s a huge. talented, odd, kind, musical/theatrical/literary family, all living with their precocious kids in a huge, rambling, ramshackle mansion, bitter-sweet, working out issues, playing games, being lovingly eccentric.. I hate them with a burning hatred and blame John Irving of “Garp”, if he founded the genre, as I think he did.  Mind you, sounds a bit like Dickens, when you think about it.

??????????

Headlong

Blackpaint

30.05.13

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 258

March 9, 2011

Cumming on Spero

Laura Cumming on Nancy Spero at the Serpentine in Sunday’s Observer says the following: ” She did not paint with oil on canvas – the canonical male medium – and she did not sculpt.”  Instead, Spero used paper as a feminist statement.  I assume that the words “the canonical male medium” are Cummings’, since they are not in parenthesis in the paper.  It’s nonsense, isn’t it?  All of the women artists that I can think of paint with oils on canvas at least sometimes.  Ayres, Mitchell, Clough, Blow,  Frankenthaler, Krasner, Dumas, and on and on…..  Canvas is not “gendered”, as far as I can see, and neither are oils.  It’s OK – desirable, really – for Spero to have been a bit mad; she was an artist, after all.  Critics surely should maintain a – critical stance.

Having said that, the exhibition sounds worth a visit – “Men and women wheel through the air, impaled on helicopter blades.  Scorched bodies, the colour of burnt bacon…” – sounds like” Salo” without the shit eating.

Greer on art in the Guardian

Interesting article by Germaine Greer on above, in which she concludes that graffiti artists are true artists.  The sentence that caught my eye was this one: “(the graffiti artists) are working within a demanding tradition that requires the sequence of execution to have been worked out in detail in advance, before any mark can be made.”  This may well be so; it reminds me of Richard Dorment on Van Gogh, how (according to Dorment) VG worked out every colour and mark before starting a painting.  What a dispiriting thought!  No improvisation, no accidents, no going with the development, no errors and corrections, no intuition, no flying by the seat of the pants – sorry, cliche – what IS flying by the seat of the pants, anyway?  Sketches are usually better than worked-up paintings, anyway; more life, more fun.

Van Gogh

Probably mentioned this already, but I was struck by the description of his shading marks in drawings as being like iron filings arranging themselves around a magnet.  Read it in the Taschen double volume, but can’t  remember the source; good though.

Turner

A while back, I mentioned how there’s an obvious figure in Lanyon’s “Lost Mine” (in the Tate Britain), but I couldn’t see it for years until someone pointed it out.  Same with Turner’s “Sea Monsters” – I’d always seen it as one big fish face, staring out at the viewer; now, after reading the Taschen (I know, still no shares),. I can’t see it as anything but two fishes side on, sort of jumping at each other.

Entrance fees for London galleries and museums

Tristram Hunt’s bad idea.  Someone said to me its mostly foreign tourists who go – they expect to pay and can afford it.  Even if this were so, it seems to me to be something of a cheek to charge them on this basis; if they’re Greek, Iraqi, Iranian, Egyptian, Turkish, Afghan, Indian etc., they would be paying to see treasures that our forefathers disassembled and shipped home in dodgy circumstances.  We nicked most of it, didn’t we, one way or another.

Blackpaint

Shrove Tuesday

 

 

 

Blackpaint 56

February 2, 2010

Germaine Greer

In yesterday’s Guardian (sorry about the parochialism – next week will comment on art coverage in Sun and Daily Mirror), Germaine Greer came out with some surprising stuff; the headline encapsulates it: “Titian takes you to a realm beyond carnality.  Stanley Spencer doesn’t”.

It’s a review of an exhibition at the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge of Singer Sargent, Sickert and Spencer.  The first is dismissed as a money-obsessed society portraitist, trying his hand at landscapes which don’t come off; the other two are unfavourably compared with Titian, who, in his “Venus and Cupid with a Lute- Player”, admits you “to a realm beyond carnality.  The luminous figure is alive but poised and contained, not simply dumped amid dirty linen”.

Sickert’s nude is “saponified, her breasts and belly engorged as if with the gases of decomposition.  we look down on her from a cool distance”, like undertakers.

Spencer’s wife, Patricia Preece “could be a companion piece” to Sickert’s; “Preece’s flesh has undergone slippage, and her face is set in a staring death mask”.

So  what is this “realm beyond carnality”?  Sounds like idealism, romanticism to me.  Women’s bodies, like men’s, do undergo “slippage” as they age and flesh tone changes according to light (or so it does at my life drawing classes).  A bit of slippage, a few bulges, some muscle – it all adds a bit of interest.  Preece’s face is only a death  mask if that’s what you want to see – I think she looks bored stiff and half asleep.  Spencer looks “alive” – but he also looks scrawny and greenish, with a suntan line across his neck.  As Bacon (appropriately) said, people are meat; they may be other things too, but they are flesh.  It seems to me that Spencer’s beautiful portrait of Preece – look at the right knee, the flatness and substance and curve of the left breast – is the embodiment of carnality and all the better for it.  Bodies, both women’s and men’s, are great to paint and draw, but they don’t always have to be “luminous”.

As for Sickert, yes, his stuff is cold, sinister and nasty – carnal.  Does this mean that Sickert “is simply not good enough for the Fitzwilliam”?  Only if “good” means a “realm beyond carnality”.  I’m happy to live and work in the carnal realm and beyond it – but I don’t see the one as better than the other.

Greer’s other remarks about the sidelining of Sickert’s and Spencer’s faithful women allies (Helen Lessore, Sylvia Gosse and Hilda Carline) may, of course, be fair enough; although I’ve heard of them all, I don’t know their work – if they are as good as any of the men discussed, then Greer’s final sentence is justified; the exhibition, she says, “offers a pretty good object lesson in how women’s contribution is winnowed out of art history”.  But are they as good? You shouldn’t be entitled to an exhibition on the strength of raising two daughters and undergoing “the misery and turmoil of being married to Spencer, a mental breakdown and failed treatment for breast cancer”, as she says of Carline; it should be because you can produce something as good, or as interesting, as the Spencer painting which illustrates the article.

Listening to Neighbour, Neighbour by The Graham Bond Organisation.

“You got nose trouble, mouth trouble too,

Something bad gonna happen to you

Neighbour, neighbour, stay away from my door.”

Not my sentiments, of course.

Blackpaint

02.02.10