Posts Tagged ‘Grayson Perry’

Blackpaint 471 – Grayson, Grace, Nazis and the Queen

December 1, 2014

Fitzwilliam Permanent Collection

This Cambridge museum is staggeringly ornate inside; the entrance hall is like some gilded cathedral.  Quite a lot of rather mediocre pictures by some great painters, like the Quai d’Orsay – some so-so Titians, an unremarkable Veronese, two really shit Matisses, a bad Degas.  I’m not complaining; it’s interesting to see that the masters can be mediocre too.  And there ARE some beautiful pictures – a great Vuillard interior, a fabulous black paint sketch by Degas, Dutch, French and Spanish still lifes on black ground – butterflies, rotting fruit and lizards (what do they signify?) among the flowers.

Several lovely Camden Town paintings, Harold Gilman, Sickert and Ethel Sands, whose work looked just like the great Gilman to me.

National Portrait Gallery – Grayson Perry

Pottery and tapestry that goes with Perry’s recent TV prog, in which he interviewed a diverse selection of people living in Britain today and produced portraits of them.  There is a big tapestry in which he lists various aspects of the British self-image;  the Modern Family (two men and a child); the Ashford Hijab (below); the Alzheimer’s sufferer and his amazing wife; the Children of God family, and several others.  My favourites are the three love goddesses, that remind me of the Willendorf Venus – but bigger, of course –  and the Cuman figures from the Ukraine that are in Berlin (see next week’s blog).

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The Ashford Hijab

I took the opportunity to go round the collection and discovered a few great pictures with which I was unfamiliar:

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WG Grace by Archibald Wortley

Straight off the cigarette card, I think – I love the loose way he’s done the shirt and arms (see Rivers below);

hardy strang

Thomas Hardy, by William Strang

Small, fantastic, Holbein-ish, except for the downward gaze; love the green on red background.

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David Sylvester by Larry Rivers

Written about this picture before.  The looseness of the background is now a common style; I’m thinking of that portrait of the officer in his dress uniform after a party, at the BP Prize a couple of years ago.  Also, I like the way he has pink soup cascading over his neck and shoulder.

Lore (2012) 

Made in German by Cate Shortland, an Australian, I found this film to be a refreshing take on the Nazi regime – it shows a couple of formidable and chilling old Nazi diehard women, one Lore’s “Omi” (grandmother), the other a peasant woman, lamenting the dead Fuhrer and how the German people had let him down.  Necessary corrective to the attractive face of Nazism presented by Alexandra Maria Lara, who plays Traudl Junge in “Downfall”.

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Remember Me

Three- part ghost story on BBC1, starring Michael Palin; that beach scene in the opening credits, where the tall, black-shrouded figure appears, is surely inspired by Jonathan Miller’s B&W adaptation of MR James’ “Whistle and I’ll Come to You Lad” – a masterpiece, featuring another Michael -Hordern – and which, for me, ranks with “The Ring” for creepiness, despite its age.

First Love, Last Rites

Still on that theme of finding comparisons, I’ve just finished Ian McEwan’s early short stories (see last blog) and the book that came to my mind was “Tomato Cain” by Nigel Kneale, author of the Quatermass books.  Kneale’s stories lack the explicit sex, of course – it was the 50s – but I thought McEwan’s “Butterflies” in particular was very like Kneale.

Turner Prize

It should have been Tris Vonner -Marshall or James Richards (see Blackpaint a few blogs ago).

 Berlin

Just back from four days of museums and galleries, for which see next blog, but I have to mention Nefertiti in the Neues Museum; all on her own in a darkened chamber, her face is somehow completely modern – I thought maybe behind a desk at an airport.  the beauty  is in the consummate skill of the modelling, the long neck, smooth skin – like a Holbein portrait (see below) it’s more than just brilliant, in that it goes beyond style.

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nefertiti

And Holbein…

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The Merchant George Gisze, Holbein

Different clothes, but I’m sure I saw this bloke on the UBahn on Friday… And to follow Holbein, here’s my latest:

photo (55)

 Water Engine, Blackpaint

01.12.14

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 316 – Rudders and Shark’s Fins at the Serpentine

December 31, 2011

Helen Frankenthaler

The news of the death of the great Helen Frankenthaler – great painter, beautiful woman ( judging by the Guardian photograph) made me realise how easy it is to overlook people if they haven’t had a retrospective or show recently.  I think I’ve only seen two or three of her works together as part of a package at the Guggenheim, Bilbao maybe 7 or 8 years ago.  Then, a few paintings in Ab-Ex books and art histories (Autumn Farm, Spring Blizzard, the much later and fantastic Lavender Mirror) but no easy- to- find book to herself.  But she was a pioneer; the pouring of thinned paint onto unprimed canvas, leaving tracts unstained, was her “invention”, later adopted by Morris Louis, notably.

Joan Mitchell has had a bit of well-deserved attention lately, with a lovely book and a small exhibition in Edinburgh; now we should see the same for Frankenthaler… and Krasner, Hartigan, Jay DeFeo….

Lygia Pape

“Magnetized Space” at the Serpentine Gallery, free. lovely exhibition.  She was a Brazilian artist who died, aged 77, in 2003 – a Neo-Concretist (no, I didn’t know either).  The Neo – Concretist movement was “dedicated to the inclusion of art into everyday life”, so the booklet says.  Anyway, there are several videos on show that we didn’t have time to watch, beautiful, careful drawings of close parallel lines on white paper, with sections tilted to look as if collaged on – very similar to Rachel Whiteread’s stuff at Tate Britain, I thought – but the most beautiful woodcuts on paper; minimalist, geometrical shapes cleanly cut against each other, both black and white and in three or four colours.  There are three in particular, in which the grain of the wood has been imprinted onto Japanese paper.  One resembles the rudder of a boat, another a shark’s fin, the third an abstract swirling pattern.  They are great, don’t miss them.

The Roberts

Colquhoun and MacBryde, about whom Roger Bristow has written a book entitled “The Last Bohemians” (2010).  I knew of them vaguely from the writings of Julian Maclaren-Ross and Daniel Farson but I’d only scene one picture by Colquhoun, the one that Grayson Perry included in his Hastings exhibition a while back.  the first illustration on the book is “Bitch and Pup”, which Colquhoun did in 1958; it’s very striking and no doubt I’ll be returning to them, as I read more.

The Artist

I’ll have to see it, the critics having unanimously praised it – but it all sounds a bit “Cinema Paradiso” to me.  That’s enough, signing off to get drunk (er).  Happy New Year, to those of you for whom it is.

Blackpaint

31.12.11

Blackpaint 154

June 18, 2010

Portrayals of God in Western Art

As promised, comment on Andrew Graham-Dixon’s remark that Michelangelo was the first artist to portray God (ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, touching fingers with Adam):  Wikipedia says portrayals of God started in France in 12th century with “the hand of God”; then there was the Naples Bible showing God in the Burning Bush, addressing Moses presumably; then, in the Rohan Book of Hours.  It shows a 1489 picture by Perugino showing God; that beats Michelangelo by about 19 years (Sistine Chapel done 1508 – 1512).

This, however, is just typical blogger’s hair-splitting; even if Michelangelo’s wasn’t technically the first, it’s definitely the best likeness.

Royal Academy

Another AGD item, this time on the Culture Show; he seems to be on everything to do with art these days, and so does Grayson Perry.  No problem telling them apart, however – Perry has fair hair.

The item showed the judges of the Wollaston(?) Prize at their deliberations, trying to decide who should get the £25,000 prize for the most distinguished work in the show.  This should have been easy, as it was behind them on the wall; Gillian Ayres, of course.  They awarded it to Yinka Shonibare.

Damien Hirst

A re-run of an old South Bank Show from 2 or 3 years ago, with Melvin Bragg interviewing him at Toddington, the vast stately home he bought to turn into a gallery for his work and his collection.  I thought he was really eloquent about the sort of artist that he cheerfully admits he isn’t – the lonely, Van Gogh – type painter, who works in solitary agony, does everything for him/herself, to whom every work completed and sold “is like a little bit of their soul torn off”.

I have a number of bits of torn-off soul available….

Blackpaint

18.06.10

Listening to Willie Nelson, We Don’t Run.

“We don’t run, and we don’t compromise,

We don’t quit; we never do.

I look for love; I see it in your eyes-

The eyes of me, and the eyes of you”.

Yes I know, but it sounds great when Willie does it.

Blackpaint 55

February 1, 2010

Ofili

I see Laura Cumming in Observer thinks Lazarus was like Matisse, but I still reckon Art Nouveau; thought her review was a bit sniffy – it was a great show, at least four distinct “phases” and good to see changes in an artist’s work.  The thin, dry surfaces of the latest pieces remind me a little of the Per Kirkesby, on reflection.

Grayson Perry

The above had a column in the Observer on Sunday which I hope will be a regular feature, as I think he talks more sense about art than any other (living, British) artist I can think of.  And, judging from the exhibition he curated in Bexhill a while back, called “Unpopular Culture”, his taste coincides quite closely to mine – the Burra, and the Colquhoun, Chadwick…

Anyway, his article was about class and he describes how, in 2001, he was waiting to discuss his first solo show in the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum when he was assailed by “the ghost of (his) working class past”, which said to him “What are you doing here, you oik? These places ain’t for the likes of you.”

Reading this reminded me of “Intensely Dutch”, the book on Dutch post-war art I’ve been reading; I was struck by the fact that nearly all the artists featured came from a working class background; fathers were – glazier, blacksmith, painter of Delftware, grocer/saddlemaker, furniture maker, postman, fine carpenter, barber.  One farmer, one office manager.

If you compare this with, say, the St.Ives painters (the men, anyway – not so much seems to have been written about  the women), only Terry Frost seems to have come from a working class background and, of course, Alfred Wallis; although I’m not sure about Bryan Wynter – the Tate book isn’t clear on it.

I’m not sure what all this means, if anything, but it might have a bearing on Grayson’s feelings expressed in the article.

Listening to Son House, Death Letter Blues.

“Got a letter this morning, how d’you reckon it read? (*2)

Said, hurry, hurry; gal you love is dead”.

Blackpaint

1.02.10