Posts Tagged ‘Hans Hoffman’

Blackpaint 514 – Hoyland’s Cakes, The Serpent’s Egg, Auerbach’s Mustard

October 12, 2015

John Hoyland at Newport Street Gallery

hoyland1

These huge, voluptuous colour field pictures, around 40 of them, are on display at Damien Hirst’s new gallery near Vauxhall.  It’s enormous; white walls of course, lovely staircases, a line of big toilets with heavy doors as if he’s expecting coachloads of pensioners.  The paintings are from Hirst’s own collection and it’s great to see them here for free.

Acrylics for the most part – there are two oils, I think.  Several maroons with orange, leaf green (ugh!), turquoise, grey-blue, reds and greys, arranged in blocks or columns; a few with scraped edges and splatters, “smoking” tops (the result of trickle- downs and reversal of the canvas).  The central section upstairs I think of as the cake room; pinks, beiges and whites, like huge cake slices smashed and splattered against the canvas.  In the last room, deep, singing blues, reds and oranges, scraped to reveal gold, like clouds of fire; colours arranged in blocks and diagonals.

For an alternative view, try Jonathan Jones online – “Why is Damien Hirst opening his new gallery with this second-rate artist?”  He makes the laughable claim that Hoyland is trying to do Rothko, or Pollock, or Barnet Newman.  Actually, the painters who came to my mind were Hans Hoffman and John Golding (a bit).  Hoyland, says Jones,  is simply “messing about with paint”.

hoyland2

The Serpent’s Egg, Bergman (1977)

Falls into that genre of films like “Cabaret” and Visconti’s “The Damned”, in which the story is set in Weimar Germany, in this case, Berlin – sleazy drinking clubs, cabarets and brothels (often combined), cross- dressing, prostitution, obscene night club turns, dwarves, smeared, garish lipstick, lost innocence, sudden shocking violence, crazed Nazi bands, wet cobblestones, sense of doom…  Bergman’s film is set earlier than the others- 1923 I think, the time of hyper-inflation- but the similarities are apparent.  It becomes suddenly Kafka-esque towards the denouement; David Carradine is chased around a mysterious underground laboratory-labyrinth and confronts a mad scientist, more Nazi than Hitler himself (who is a minor demagogue at this time, about to launch his Munich Putsch).

Unlike any other Bergman film I’ve seen; sort of a low budget feel, strangely, since it was made in Hollywood, and the sound on the DVD is terrible.  I ended up watching it with subtitles for the hard of hearing, which improved it no end.

That Obscure Object of Desire, Bunuel (1977)

The story of this great Bunuel is well-known; Fernando Rey’s pursuit of the young Spanish flamenco dancer to Seville and eventually to Paris, her continual promising and then avoiding/refusing  sex with him (in one sequence arriving naked in his bedroom – apart from an impregnable, tightly-laced corset); the gifts of money he constantly makes to her and her complicit mother, culminating in his buying her a house.  After another provocation, he attacks her; she grins up at him through her bleeding lips and says, “Now I know you really love me!”  Dodgy sexual politics, to be sure.  I had forgotten the little “surreal” bits in the film – the mousetrap that goes off during one of Rey’s intense scenes with Conchita; the sack that he lugs around inexplicably in several scenes.

Conchita, the girl, is famously played by two completely different actresses –  the elegant, glacial Carole Bouquet and the effervescent Angela Molina.  This caused me great consternation when I first saw the film.  I rationalised it along these rather obvious lines: they represent the two halves of Conchita’s character; cold and hot.  That didn’t work though.  So, they represent the two ways she responds to Rey.  But that didn’t work either, for the same reason (they both encourage and reject him, rather than “taking turns”).

Wikipedia says that Bunuel got the idea to use different women in response to difficulties he was having on set with another actress,  Maria Schneider apparently, and that it had no deeper significance than that he thought it was an amusing idea and would” work well”.

I love that phrase; I’ve heard it so many times from different artists and said it often myself, in response to those who ask “What does that represent?” or “Why did you do that there?” – the answer is invariably mundane or unhelpful; it “looked good”, or “I thought it was black and when I put it on the canvas,  it turned out to be prussian blue”.  As often, a Jonathan Jones piece is instructive; reviewing the new Auerbach at Tate Britain, Jones recycles the old “colourless 50s” cliche: “Back in the 1950s, he (Auerbach) saw very little colour in the world.  Frankenstein faces loom like monsters in his early paintings.   Gradually came the colours: blood red, mustard yellow, and eventually orange, purple, blue, the lot – a rainbow slowly spreading…”.  Auerbach himself, speaking on his son’s film about him, explains that the new colours were the result of his progressively having more money to spend on paint.

Jones’ review is otherwise not bad, apart from his habitual thumping overstatement and childish posturing – “My generation owes Auerbach an apology..”…

serpents egg of obscure desire

The Serpent’s Egg of Obscure Desire

Blackpaint

12.10.15

 

 

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Blackpaint 413 – Venice; Three Saints and their Beastly Companions

September 30, 2013

Guggenheim Museum in Venice

Just back from a week in Venice to visit the Biennale (bit late – it closes next month).  Venice full of German, American and Japanese tourists and very few native Venetians; the streets were practically deserted by 8.30 pm, apart from rather subdued groups and pairs of lost tourists.  The Biennale, both the Arsenal and the park pavilions, more impressive than last time; I’m going to blog every couple of days this week until I’ve done everything worth mentioning.  Some of the very best things we saw were not part of the Biennale however, but were at the  Guggenheim; four, no five new pictures hung last year.First, Hans Hoffman’s “Spring on Cape Cod”.

hans hoff at the gug

Next, de Kooning’s “Woman, seated”.

DK at gug 2

Joan Mitchell, Untitled, in her amazing, clean, cold greens, oranges, reds and blues.

joan mitchell gug

And Burri, brown and black, underneath a sheath of cellophane.

Carpaccio

Going back a little, there were the Carpaccios at the Scuola di Giorgio dei Greci; the famous St. George and Dragon with various scattered body parts – the lance seems to be on the wrong side of the horse’s head; wrong, that is, for martial, not artistic purposes.  In the next panel, George again, with the dead dragon, about to strike off its head for the assembled, be-turbaned crowd.

carpaccio1

Next, we have St.Tryphon, just like a little boy, with the Basilisk demon he has just exorcised from the little girl’s body.  It looks rather like a little donkey – pity it wasn’t a Gryphon, for reason of rhyme.

carpaccio2

St. Jerome next, with his newly tamed lion, trying to introduce it to a group of elders, who appear strangely reluctant to meet it.  And then, a much younger Jerome in his study, fine red leather chair, all sorts of scientific instruments at hand and a little white dog, looking on while he has his vision.

Don’t Look Now

Watched this again as soon as I was back from Venice and not much evidence of change in the last 40 years – the water ambulances are different and there were no giant cruise ships obliterating the views, but otherwise the same.  What I did notice was how everyone in Venice appeared to have some sort of secret personal agenda, signified by meaningful looks, gazings into the distance (priest), murmurs of “Ah, yes, of course” (police inspector)…  Only the English headmaster and his wife were free of the air of mystery – but they were in England.

More on Venice, particularly the Biennale, this week.

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Work in Prog

Blackpaint

30.09.13

Blackpaint 196

September 21, 2010

Pushed fortime today, but I’ve been in the Tate Modern again, to see the “Chromatic Constructs” or whatever they are called.  Thought it was new, but realised when I got there it was Mary Martin etc., seen it before.  So.. to visit Jorn, Pollock and friends again.

Judit Riegl

“Guano”.  Canvas placed on floor underneath other paintings in progress – creating ripples on surface, which she painted over to create a slate-like consistency.  looks like a lithograph.  Took her 7 years.

Jorn

Looks dirty and dull close up, but clean and vivid from across room, cf. Appel at St.Ives and so many others.

Pollock

Jazz dance?  Seemed dead and trite, like 50’s wallpaper.  I think it’s those dodgy, Disney style black dancers, disguised as loops along the canvas.

Kline

Always powerful.  I don’t what he called it or said what it was, or was not – it’s always a bridge to me, black iron over misty white marshes.

Joan Mitchell 

The one on show in the Tate is quite an early one, relatively restrained, but its beautifully constructed and complex, even if her fantastic colour sense is reined in.

Viera de Silva

Not a good one; too tame and tricksy, not enough wild surface.

Some new books – new to me, anyway.  A beautiful Cecily Brown, weighing in at £40.00; full of de Kooning -like colours and brushwork, barely concealing obscene goings -on – and many with no concealment at all.

There is a Fiona Rae, £28.00 I believe, in which her palette appears to have become much brighter, rather like Ofili.

Finally, a Hans Hoffman with a whole lot of rather unpleasant green pictures, from around 1960 – it just shows that even a painter of his brilliance can turn out some dull stuff. 

Painting

I’ve started to mix a bit of white spirit in with the oil now and then, so that I can get areas of relatively uniform staining onto the canvas; now, not everything has to be slabbed on in thick oil slicks and then dragged into smooth, shiny tiles of paint, usually with white glimmering through in patches – still like that effect, though now there is some textural contrast.  I realise that all this is elementary, but it’s still new to me.

And so, it begins..

David Mitchell, as Cyrano de Bergerac, said this to camera in a Mitchell and Webb sketch the other week and it popped up last night in “The Year of Living Dangerously”; is this its original source?

 

Spider’s song by Blackpaint

Listening to “North to Alaska”, Dwight Yoakam out of Johnnie Horton;

“Where the river is winding, big nuggets they’re finding,

North! To Alaska,

We’re going north, the rush is on!”

Blackpaint 142

May 27, 2010

WordPress advises bloggers to start with an eyecatching headline, so here goes:

Artists and cannibalism

Diego Rivera claims in his autobiography that in 1904, he and companions lived off corpses that they bought from a local mortuary and ate.  This claim is uncorroborated; I got it from Mary Roach’s’s book “Stiff” (Penguin 2004).  More gratuitous sensationalism as soon as I come across it.

Some more abstract (or near abstract – or just a bit abstract, but good) art to look at

These are all to be seen in the Taschen “Art of the 20th Century”, I recommend you buy it and no, I don’t have shares in Taschen.

  • Nicolas de Stael, Portrait of Anne, 1953
  • Jonathan Borofsky, Canoe Painting, 1978
  • Jules Olitsky, Strip Heresy, 1964
  • Larry Rivers, Africa 1, 1962/3
  • Hans Hoffmann, the Ocean, 1957

In addition, there are “Untitled”s by Walter Stohrer, Albert Oehlen and Per Kirkeby that are all excellent, the last resembling a flame bursting in midnight blue.  There is easily enough in this book to send you straight to the canvas ready to chuck the pigment on – and then to give up in despair, several hours later, wondering how they make such beautiful pictures.

Now I’m thoroughly depressed, so signing off for the night, and resorting to the bottle.

Blackpaint

26.05.10

Blackpaint 96

March 27, 2010

Having a major failure of the imagination today – not unusual for me – so I have decided to resort to the adolescent device of listing my ten best…  So, today, my

Ten Best Abstract Expressionist Paintings

1.  De Kooning, Palisade (1957)

2.  Joan Mitchell, Mooring (1971)

3.  Hans Hoffman, Phantasia (1944)

4.  Jackson Pollock, Lavender Mist no.1, 1940 (1940!)

5.  Franz Kline, Scranton (1960)

6.  Helen Frankenthaler, Autumn Farm (1959)

7.  Hans Hoffman, Pompeii (1959)

8.  de Kooning, Untitled (Summer in Springs) (1962) – look at that yellow!

9.  Joan Mitchell, Salut Sally (1970)

10.  Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm Number 30, 1950 (1950)

Sorry – you’ll have to look them all up to see if I chose right.  Next in series will be my ten best St.Ives paintings, but will save that for when I have nothing of interest to say; possibly tomorrow.

Bacon

In the Telegraph review today, there was a photograph of George Dyer sitting in his underpants and next to it, Bacon’s painting of John Edwards in exactly the same pose.  Bacon simply transposed the head of his later partner onto the body of Dyer, for the painting.  That requires some high level of artistic detachment, I think.

Listening to Elgar’s Cockaigne, Cello Concerto, Violin Concerto and Falstaff – probably a reaction to my unpatriotic remarks about Paul Nash in Blackpaint 94.

Blackpaint 27.03.10

Blackpaint 90

March 18, 2010

What is happening?? WordPress seems to have gone nuts.  will try again tomorrow, but today unable to download pictures and system keeps logging me out.  Just words today, I’m afraid.

Asger Jorn

Writing about Jorn yesterday, it occurred to me that the Tate Modern should follow up the Van Doesburg show with something wild by way of contrast – The CoBrA lot, especially Jorn, Appel and Constant, for example.  Lots of slatched-on, swirling colours, little demon heads emerging out of the murk – would make a lovely contrast to the squares, triangles and DISCIPLINE of Mondrian, VD et al.  Or maybe some of the wilder Abstract Expressionists; Gotz, Shiraga, even Joan Mitchell…  Then again, I’d love to see some Hans Hoffmans, Eva Hesse, Helen Frankenheimer..

Ad Reinhardt

A while back, I quoted Reinhardt’s aphorism: “Art is art.  Everything else is everything else”.  That was in 1958; in the early 60’s, he expanded the original – “Art is art-as-art.  Everything else is everything else.  Art-as-art is nothing but art.  Art is not what is not art.”  From 1954 until his death in 1967, he painted in various shades of black, so, writing as Blackpaint, I have to declare Reinhardt as a hero.  I fear I will never achieve his focus and clarity of purpose, however.  And his brother Django was a brilliant guitarist, of course.

I can’t see whether this picture has downloaded properly, but will publish anyway.

Blackpaint

18.03.10