Posts Tagged ‘Goldsmiths’

Blackpaint 115

April 20, 2010

Gerhard Richter

Should have added his name to the list yesterday, but then it would have gone up to eleven, like Nigel Tufnell’s amp.  I’ve just been looking at a guidebook to the Pompidou Centre from 2003 and there is a painting called “Jun n 527” dated 1983, in yellow and red, with light green downward slashes, that is worth a look (note my new refusal to use superlatives).  If you google Gerhard Richter and go to images, you’ll find about 5 pages worth of similar paintings.  I recommend that you do so.

Hantai and Degottex

Simon and Jean respectively, two names I omitted from my review of the Pompidou (Blackpaint 108/109).  They seem to use scraping and scribbling, Twombly-like, on black or dark backgrounds and go with Soulages and de Stael in the collection.  Looking at the latter’s picture “Rooftops” with a sort of horizon a third of the way up against a grey “sky” – it (the horizon) seems to fizz like Rothko’s sometimes do.


Watching the second part of this last night, I was struck again by how often the artists seem to struggle with  the meaning of their art.  Blue Curry for instance, with his swordfish blade through the basketball.  What did it mean? He didn’t seem to know, but thought it was worthwhile anyway, and of course, he was right; what’s the point of making an art work if you can put the idea into words easily?

This is a problem with conceptual art, where the artist is trying to communicate an idea or ideas; the art work is a metaphor.  If it’s a good one, the idea is communicated and the purpose is served.  More often, the idea is complex; the artist is attempting to say several things, some of them perhaps contradictory; the art work is therefore a “meditation” on something, or the artist “is preoccupied” with something.  But do these meditations and preoccupations come first?  I think in many (most) cases, the artist thinks A or B would be an exciting or amusing thing to do and worries about meaning later, if at all.  I hope so anyway.

I think Roisin Byrne, the self-styled Irish thief, is onto something with her rip-offs of other artists; she’s meditating on ideas of originality, authenticity and value in the art world.  It’s only an extension of the “ready made” idea that’s been around since Duchamp, after all.  I would have thought that there would be legal limitations to her operations though, and was surprised that Goldsmiths awarded her the end-of-year prize; doesn’t that make the institution an accomplice?

Listening to “Time has told me”, by Nick Drake.

“Time has told me, not to ask for more,

For someday this ocean will reach its shore…”



Blackpaint 114

April 19, 2010

Ten Male Artists whose work  should be published in cheap editions by Taschen or Tate or anyone good

Partly to demonstrate the anti-sexist credentials of Blackpaint’s blog, but also to mention a slew of painters I like but can’t get cheap books about:

  • Hans Hoffman – I can only find one book on this seminal colour field artist and teacher (in Henry Pordes, Charing X Road) and it’s 65 quid! 
  • Richard Diebenkorn – highly desirable book by Jane Livingston, but it’s 35 quid.  Bit cheaper on Amazon, but I like to  buy the old-fashioned way.
  • Richard Guston
  • John Hoyland
  • Graham Sutherland
  • Pierre Bonnard – the colours in the Phaidon are dead; Taschen required urgently.
  • Eduard Vuillard
  • Asger Jorn, Appel – all the CoBrA people, really.
  • Keith Vaughan
  • Albert Oehlen

A mixed bunch, to be sure; but I have actually  searched for cheap editions of all these and have only really been lucky with odd ones in catalogues.

Michelangelo  and Trees

I missed one (see Blackpaint 112) ; there are actually two pretty basic and dead trees in the Flood (Sistine).  I have amended the blog accordingly, but my point remains, I  think.


Watching the BBC4 programme on Goldsmiths, I was struck with the obsession they – both tutors and students – have with “meaning” in art.  They construct their tableaux or objects or  whatever and  then worry that the public won’t get their meaning.  one said,”They won’t think hard enough about it”.  The prof, however, when pressed, said, “It’s all about the art, really; the rest is bullshit”.  This I  found reassuring, but I’m told  by those who know, that art schools require context and meaning and argument and that  artists who refuse to discuss their work in these terms and assert that a work of art should, as it were, speak for itself, will not get far in academia.

Strange really; it’s a sort of marxist or pseudo-marxist position, that art has to be experienced and appreciated in context.  I remember writing an essay arguing just that,  several years (well, decades) ago at university.  The tutor’s comment  was “Interesting – but I don’t think you would convince a purist.”  Now I’m the purist, I suppose.

I also find it interesting that what I  do, a lot of the general public regard as “modern art” – but it’s really old-fashioned, of course, abex or colour field stuff being the equivalent of, say, modal jazz, Coltrane doing “My Favourite Things” or Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” – 51 years old!