Posts Tagged ‘Helen Frankenthaler’

Blackpaint 621 – Abstract All the Way, Today – apart from Two Deers and Picasso

June 9, 2018

The Shape of Light, Tate Modern

An exhibition which explores the way abstract painting and abstract photography have interacted since, I guess, the teens and twenties of the last century up to today.  Consequently, it’s both huge and incomplete.  Some examples below:

 

 

 

 

I didn’t note who the painters and photographers were, but the usual suspects were there – Van Duisberg, Moholy-Nagy, Arp, Kandinsky, Brassai, Man Ray and so on.  I liked Siskind’s scratched brickwork and blistered paint and the views from the top of buildings down stairways of Moholy-Nagy.

Later sections with work by Bridget Riley et al.  Lots of rooms, lots of work and my usual problem with numerous monochrome abstract photos – the skidding eye…

 

Ed Kienholz, America My Hometown, at Blain/Southern (Hanover Square) until 14th July

Like Rauschenburg, sometimes, without the paint swatches mostly, and with a rougher sense of humour.  The exhibition “traces Kienholz’s formative years (1954 – 1967)” says the sheet.

The Little Eagle Rock Incident (1958)

 

The Nativity (1961)

A Gift for a Baby (1962)

The American Way, II (1960)

Kienholz, once resident in the back of the legendary Ferus Gallery, and an associate of Walter Hopps (read Hopps’ memoir as an antidote to the usual art BS), drove a pick up truck with “Expert” blazoned on the side, got his material from scrapyards, made scandalous tableaux (“Hoerengracht” for instance) and was buried – when dead, of course –  in his car.  Fabulous stuff.  See also the film “The Cool School”, about Kienholz, Hoppe, Irving Blum and the Ferus Gallery.

Downstairs at Blain/Southern is Erika Nissinen, a Finnish artist whose work is not easily describable, but is grotesque, funny and requires a visit.

Transcendental Accidents (The Aalto Natives) 2017-18

 

Surface Work – Women Artists at Victoria Miro Mayfair until 16th June – so hurry.

The sheet describes this as an “international, cross-generational exhibition” which is “a celebration of women artists who have shaped and transformed…..the language and definition of abstract painting.”  Others on show include Krasner, Hedda Sterne, Agnes Martin, Lygia Clark. Prunella Clough and loads more.  The Frankenthaler and the Thomas are not typical – there is Constructivist, minimalist, and geometric pieces too.

Helen Frankenthaler – Winter Figure with Black Overhead (1959)

Alma Thomas – Untitled (1961)

Picasso 1932, Tate Modern – yet again + stages of Guernica

I’ve been again, and I thought it might be worth mentioning that there is only one of the 1932 paintings, as far as I can see – or maybe one and a half – in which the central image is not defined by a heavy black or dark line.  No doubt this is because he wanted to establish the image ASAP, fix it so to speak, and get on with the next image looming up in his brain – who knows?  Anyway, it’s this one:

Sorry, rather fuzzy image.

I’ve just been looking at “Dora Maar, with and without Picasso” by Mary Ann Caws (Thames and Hudson, 2000).  In it is a series of photos of the stages of “Guernica”.  I was interested to see that Picasso originally had a long, muscular, worker-victim’s arm with clenched fist, thrusting straight up, slightly left of centre, where the screaming horse’s head is now.  The horse is arguably the most memorable feature of the painting, so he made the right decision.  With the fist, the painting would have been corny propaganda, like those awful peace things he did in the 50’s, with flute-playing rustics wandering about.  It’s still propaganda, but great.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer, dir. Yorgos Lanthimos (2017)

More epater les bourgeois, like The Square – but horrible.  It contains a sequence in which Colin Farrell, blindfolded, spins with a rifle in the midst of his bound and gagged family, and fires randomly…

The set-up of the plot strangely echoes that of the recent ITV serial “Trauma”, with Adrian Lester as a surgeon who is harried by the father of a youth he has operated on, but who died in surgery.  The father discovers the surgeon had been drinking.  In this film, the pursuer is son not father, but in other respects, oddly similar.  Supposedly “venomously funny”, according to the Telegraph.

 

Ghost Geese fly West

Blackpaint

09.06.18

 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 570 – AbExes at the RA and the Thin Man in the City

September 30, 2016

Abstract Expressionism at the RA

Fantastic, of course; the best show in London since the RA’s Diebenkorn, which was not that long ago (OK, Auerbach at Tate Britain was also great, but I think the Diebenkorn had the edge, with the three distinct styles/periods/modes, whatever you wish to call them).  Back to AbExes – I went on Saturday when it opened; queued for only 10 minutes and for once, it wasn’t throgged with immovable punters, walkie-talkies clapped to their ears, so you could see some of the paintings.. and sculptures, mustn’t forget David Smith and a few Barnett Newmans.

I’ll be going again and again, for sure, so this is nowhere near exhaustive:

  • The Guston and Mitchell paintings made Frankenthaler’s “Europa” look rather dowdy, on the far right of the wall.

guston-prague

Guston, Prague

  • The stunning Mitchell “Salut Tom”; four huge panels of white, blue and yellow, Monet of course and a little bit Cy Twombly, those panels of the seasons that were in the Tate Modern a while back.

salut-tom

  • When you look through the archway at the two small pink, green and yellow de Koonings, they look like Toulouse Lautrecs.
  • The Clyfford Stills, most of them, are great on their own but as Laura Cummings says in the Observer, putting them all in one room next to each other, they tend to drain the others’ glory.

still

 

  • This is NOT the case with the de Koonings, however, before which you can only – well, I can only stand in awe.  Sorry, hyperbole creeping in – I could do lots of things, ONE of them being to stand in awe.  A couple of fantastic Women, “Whose name was writ on water”, “Villa Borghese” with its green sweeps, the yellow and grey one with its yellow sweeps, that juicy red one, the collage with the tin tacks…  He’s the guv’nor, no question.

dk-water

de Kooning  – Whose name Was Writ on Water

  • Pollock’s not bad either.  I’m quite familiar with Pollock’s work, so the one enjoyed most was the 1943 “Mural” with the repeated green figures.

pollock-mural

Pollock, Mural

  • Can’t get on with Barnett Newman, sorry to say; I don’t like that liverish red/brown he uses, or the orange zips.
  • Rothko – an unusual, scrapy, scrappy blue and yellow panel on paper.
  • Lovely, punchy B&W Klines and an unusual wobbly one.

kline

Franz Kline – Zinc Door

  • Ad Reinhardt, pursuing his obsessions to their black ends – one of his, with spidery lines and figures, just like a Constant.
  • Guston’s paint, especially on the cartoon one (yes I know, but they DO look like cartoons) is greasy, dobby and looks moist.
  • And then there’s Jack Tworkov, with the diagonal slashes of colour.

Enough for now.  I’ve been reading “Anti-Matter” by Ben Jeffries, an extended essay about Houellebecq and “Depressive Realism” in which there is a discussion of Faking It – the idea that all works of art are “fake”, even when they are avowedly realist.  I think that’s right in a sense, and particularly right for the AbExes; once you are putting paint on a support, brushing, dripping, blading, flicking, you are faking it, unless it’s a real action picture and even then, you choose the paint, so there is a gap.  Rothko is not in some transcendant state when he paints, at least not most of the time; he’s thinking how to portray his feelings/revelations – the ones he’s already had, that is.  He’s faking it.

Doesn’t matter – they’re fantastic anyway, faking it or not.

Metropolis, dir. Fritz Lang (1927) 

metropolis

I’ve been watching the print found in Buenos Aires, and shown on BBC, in 30 minute chunks – I have a short attention span.  Once you get past the hero’s make-up, curly hair and jodphurs, it’s full of influence: so far, I’ve got montage scenes recalling Grosz; Rotwang the inventor’s false hand in leather glove (Dr.Strangelove);  Frankenstein, of course; the downtrodden, Zombie-like workers have offspring in the Wizard of Oz, Popeye cartoons and  – zombie films; all films with an underground or hi-tec citadel – Indiana Jones, James Bond films, Wallis and Gromit..  No doubt, there will be many more.  And it has another memorable villain to add to the gallery: Fritz Rasp as the “Thin Man”.

rasp

Fritz Rasp – watch the film, you’ll laugh – but he’ll come to you in your dreams….

islares-2

Islares under Cloud

Blackpaint

30.09.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 503 – UrbanArtBrixton, Neglected AbExes (who happen to be women)

July 10, 2015

Urban Art in the street 

I’m exhibiting in the street in Brixton tomorrow and Sunday with a few other select artists – about 200, I think – between 10.00am and 6.00pm; come and see.

geometry1

Geometry 1 

Evert Lundquist

Swedish Expressionist painter 1904 – 1990.  Someone told me about this painter, who reminds me a little of Munch (can’t stand Munch, but I like this painter for some reason) and sometimes, a little of Van Gogh:

lundquist1

 

lundquist2

lundquist3

Grace Hartigan

Why no book on this great American painter?  She’s as good as Frankenthaler – but maybe not so innovative –

and not far behind the sublime Joan Mitchell, in my opinion.

hartigan1

hartigan2

Pat Passlof

Another interesting AbEx, a pupil of, and obviously influenced by de Kooning – but with a twist of her own:

passlof1

 

passlof2

And just for comparison, here’s a Joan Mitchell:

mitchell - george went swimming

Stunning, eh?  Anyway, desperately trying to sort stuff out for Brixton tomorrow, so will post now.  Few words, lots of pictures for once.

Megiddo

Megiddo

Blackpaint

10.07.15

 

Blackpaint 497 – Metzger on Metal, AbEx Women

May 31, 2015

Gustav Metzger at Tate Britain

They’ve reorganised some of the rooms at TB and I was surprised and delighted to see a whole roomful of great Metzgers.  I thought the second and third were abstract but apparently they are pictures of a table.  I knew of Metzger as one of those Auto-Destructive artists from the 60s who set fire to things and smashed up pianos and the like – in the recent “Art Under Attack” exhibition at TB, there was a film of Metzger with a big screen up opposite St. Pauls, which he destroyed with acid (the screen, not St.Pauls) so that the cathedral slowly appeared through the growing holes.  Before this, he was one of Bomberg’s disciples and there are a couple of paintings which are instantly recognisable as school of Bomberg.  Is there any other painter who had such an iron grip on his followers as Bomberg did?

metzger1

 

This one is on metal.

metzger3

 

metzger2

 

Yes, easy to see the table now – but I had to be told.  My partner thinks he’d seen Matisse’s “La Table de Marbre Rose” (1916);

matisse table

 Matisse

 

Also new at TB, a darkened room containing Ralph Peacock’s brilliant “Ethel”:

Ethel 1897 Ralph Peacock 1868-1946 Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1898 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N01672

Look at that face: “How long am I going to have to sit here?”

Mitchell, Frankenheimer, Hartigan

Last blog was half about the imbalance of “influential” male and female artists in the 80s and 90s, at least as it was reflected in Taschen books.  It didn’t allow me to include any abstract expressionist painters, so here are works by these three women, fighting their corner in the famously macho AbEx “community”.  Joan Mitchell is my favourite painter. Helen Frankenthaler is also a seminal figure, of course – Grace Hartigan much less well-known, but also fantastic (see below).

frank lorelei

 Frankenthaler

joan mitchell gug

Joan Mitchell

Hartigan

Grace Hartigan, Paper Dolls

Beckett – Fail Better

I keep hearing and reading people quoting Beckett’s famous phrase as if it’s some sort of positive guidance.  He’s taking the piss, surely – if you fail, you fail.  Consider this exchange from “Rough for Radio 1”:

“She (astonished): But he is alone!

He: Yes.

She: All alone?

He: When one is alone one is all alone.”

When you fail, you fail.  And on that note –

asger's revenge

 

Asger’s Revenge

Blackpaint

31.05.15 

Blackpaint 475 – Blackpaint’s Best and Worst Exhibitions of 2014

December 29, 2014

My Ten Best Exhibitions of 2014

I know, I’m sorry, but lists are really easy and I already have all the pictures ready.

Nicolas de Stael, le Havre

Mostly landscapes and sea views, with a few fantastic abstracts, from the latter part of his career.

de Stael big red

Martial Raysse, Pompidou Centre

I’d never heard of him, but he’s France’s most expensive living painter (not that that means he’s good – but he is).  Comparable, I think, to Richard Hamilton as an ideas man.

raysse1

Malevich, Tate Modern

Stupendous exhibition, both in the nature of the work on show and its historical interest and importance.  How did he manage to avoid being shot?  I think he probably died of natural causes just in time…

Malevich,-The-Woodcutter,-1912_original

Georges Braque, Guggenheim Bilba0

To be truthful, I’d thought of him as Picasso’s more boring collaborator in Cubism, so I was excited to see the beautiful works on dark backgrounds here.

braque red tablecloth

Cezanne and the Modern, Ashmolean 

Cezanne, Manet, VG, Degas and the revelation of those Soutine Expressionist townscapes and portraits.  Soutine was a favourite of De Kooning, so he’s good enough for me…

soutine1

Soutine

Richard Deacon, Tate Britain

Twisting, tortured, beautiful shapes in twisted, tortured materials.  And, mostly, huge…

deacon1

Veronese, National Gallery

Huge compositions, luscious colours, dramatic gestures, fabulous flesh – and some crap, insipid  Jesuses to offset the brilliance…

veronese1

Kenneth Clark Collection, Tate B

Pretty good stuff, Ken, even though you ploughed a particular furrow and had a “firm” (distorting?) hold on British modern art.  I loved the Pasmores, Sutherlands, Moores, Trevor Bell…

sutherland clark1

 

Graham Sutherland

Egon Schiele, Courtauld

Once seen never forgotten, these scrawny, distorted, perfectly drawn figures and faces.  How would he have developed, had he lived a longer life?

schiele2

Frankenthaler/ Turner, Margate

Bit tenuous, the link between the two; basically, hers look like landscapes and they both do washes – but some beautiful works from both.  Knew the Turners but not the Helens…

frank 2 cromagnon

 

Also great, but not quite…

Matisse Cut-Outs – I loved them, but it needed a few paintings to beef it up.

Silent Partners, Fitzwilliam, Cambridge – the mannikins exhibition; some beautiful pictures, notably Millais’ Black Brunswicker..

millais the black brunswicker

Richard Hamilton. Tate Britain – bursting with ideas, but cold, somehow..

Modern Art and St. Ives, International Exchanges 1915 – 65; Tate St.Ives – this one full of  brilliant art, but I knew most of them so it didn’t make the top ten.  Actually now I come to think, this was my real number two after de Stael.

winifred nicholson

 

 

Winifred Nicholson

And the Turner Prize was pretty good this year, even though it was nearly all video and the wrong one won.

So, having done the best, here’s My Worst Exhibitions of 2014:

Franz Widerberg, at the Kings Place.  Alien spacemen in horrible colours.

Richard Tuttle at the Whitechapel – mostly ticky-tacky.

Gerhard Richter at the Goodman Gallery – great artist, playing about.

Making Colour, National Gallery – not as exciting as it could have been.

Ruin Lust, Tate Britain – ditto.

OK, that’s enough; maybe I’ll do films and books tomorrow.  If not, Happy New Year from all at blackpaint.wordpress.com.  Bye!

watercolour1

watercolour2

 Life Drawings

Blackpaint

29.12.14

 

 

Blackpaint 446 – Poured Paint, Pigs, Saddam and Crocodiles

May 16, 2014

Helen Frankenthaler and Turner at Margate

A fantastic exhibition at Margate, unfortunately just finished.  I thought the comparisons between the two artists were totally fortuitous, but this didn’t matter at all, given the quality of work on show.  The Turners were all well known, I think; my favourites as always were the  watercolour sketches – and of the paintings, “Evening Star” and “Calais Sands at Low Water; Poissards Collecting Bait”.

The Frankenthalers were a revelation; the earlier ones from the 50s and 60s were oils, the later acrylics.  there was a wonderful film playing of her producing a painting by pouring thinned paint on a canvas on the floor and pushing the puddles around with sponges and mops.  A few below:

frank lorelei

Lorelei

frank 2 cromagnon

Hotel Cro-Magnon 

frank 1

 For E.M. (Eduard Manet)

Frank mountains-and-sea-1962

Mountains and Sea

This last one wasn’t in the exhibition; I include it because it was her famous “breakthrough” picture, painted (or poured and painted) in 1952.  In the literature, there is, as with several other abstract expressionists, a degree of dispute over representation and abstraction.  No problem here, though; it’s clearly a green rhino with blue feet and a body made of flowers, charging towards the sea.

Orwell – Animal Farm

Must be the sixth or seventh time I’ve read this, but I found I had tears in my eyes after the first of the massacres, when the dogs that Napoleon has been rearing in secret rip the throats out of the pigs who have been “assisting Snowball”, in his sabotage activities.  Robert Colls, in his “George Orwell:  English Rebel”, describes how Orwell was criticised for implying there was something inherently bad about the pigs (the Communist Party) in the book; there is no “mechanism” to explain why they behave as they do.  In reality, the revolutionaries in Russia came from a long tradition of clandestine, disciplined activity against the Tsars, involving terror and counter-terror, assassination, ruthless self-sacrifice and a readiness to use violence to further their ends.  This must surely go some way towards explaining the way events developed under Lenin and Stalin; you can’t blame Orwell for leaving this out – the book’s an allegory, not a history.

It brought back to me that appalling film of Saddam Hussein addressing a meeting of his Ba’athist party, while secret police tapped a succession of unfortunate members of the audience on the shoulder and led them out of the meeting to be shot.

As Orwell’s allegory stands, of course,  it seems that the pigs, under Napoleon, take over leadership and exploit the other animals because they are the most intelligent and organised and this leads to corruption – eventually, they are indistinguishable from the humans.  It’s unlikely that Orwell would have thought this an adequate explanation – to that extent, the criticisms are justified, to my mind.  Still one of the greatest works of the 20th century, though.

Autumn of the Patriarch, Marquez 

The author’s recent death sent me back to this book to finish it, after 20+years; should be easy, since it’s full of colourful sex and violence, skinning alive, feeding to crocodiles, assassinations and terrible revenges – but it’s hard going, there being no paragraphs and only one full stop every 5 – 10 pages.  I thought Krasnahorkai was tough going.  Makes Conrad seem like Stephen King…

Exhibition (again)

Re-visited Joanna Hogg’s new film at the ICA (see previous) and some new thoughts; the “trouble”, whatever it is, depression maybe, is his, not hers.  I’d forgotten the scenes in which she is obviously afraid for him when he’s locked in the toilet or bathroom and when she is so afraid that something has happened to him in the street that she runs out of the house in her underwear, barefoot.  The artspeak is good –  “Yeah, she’s totally into what I do…” – and the excruciating little exchanges on the intercom – “Do you still love me?”  “I’m cold”  “Do you want me to turn the heating up?” (pause) “Wouldn’t mind…”

I mentioned the “crazing” on the window pane in some of the shots – this was actually the reflection of thick, small shrubbery on the glass.

I’m really struggling with my latest canvas, which is a raucous blast of blood red, black and grey at the moment, so an old one to be going on with…

001

Blackpaint

16.05.14

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 290

August 26, 2011

More from the Guggenheim Bilbao

Kenneth Noland – “April Time”; a huge yellow ochre colour field with pastel green, orange and toothpaste borders.  Also “Time Shift”; equally huge blue and green chevron on white field.

Frank Stella – Orange and pink, airbrushed ? half wheels, in fluorescent paint, cut to shape.  Check out Stella in the 60s in the DVD Painters on Painting – he’s like a young Woody Allen, with a strong sense of grievance.

Morris Louis – “Saraband”; acrylic resin on canvas.  Stripes of dulled colour, oranges,  crimson, greens,  dulled by layering over darker pigment.

Helen Frankenthaler -” Canal”; poured acrylic on unbleached canvas, blue/orange, staining to blue  , then to grey.

I think I’m right in saying that there are only three women painters amongst the abstractionists on show: Frankenthaler, da Silva and Elaine de Kooning (a lovely painting like a sheaf of highly coloured leaves).  There are more female sculptors and conceptualists, however, in the sections entitled (for some non-luminous reason) “The Luminous Interval”:

Kiki Smith –   a group of body sculptures; body with scarf “entrails” dangling; pile of heads, legs, arms linked by a chain; severed, bloody forearms, palms up, on a cushion “bed”; a leaden man bent double as if touching toes, a great scab of slag enclosing his backside; tiny black bacon rasher-like things, on tiny tables; a man-thing crouching half way up a wall with a long strip of black shit emerging from the anus – title: “Shitbody”.  So, some fairly physical items there.

Annette Messager – An enormous exhibit of dolls, gloves, stockings and a multitude of other fabric-based bits and pieces, hanging from red threads to make a sort of tree thing.

Louise Bourgeois – hands and forearms entwined on a stone block, in a cage, surrounded by large circular mirrors.

Mona Hatoum – room-sized, open “crate” made of shelving, containing light bulbs going on and off.

Rachel Whiteread – Flat-bottomed, amber coloured wax bath mould; white bookshelves with whited-out books and white boxes on platforms.

Marina Abramovic – her strangely sexy – maybe it’s just me – video of her scrubbing the skeleton (sounds like an Australian metaphor), previously described at the Whitechapel Gallery.

Wanguchi Muti – Darkened room with a wall of fox(?) pelts at one end, scores of upside-down wine bottles dripping onto a long table.  Strong smell of stale wine.

Common elements – use of whole rooms, body parts, hanging things, bodily functions, cages. 

Last word on Gug next blog.

Alexander Nevsky

You can see that Olivier saw Eisenstein’s film before making Henry V; there’s the baggage train, the shower of arrows, the charge (across ice instead of green fields), even the single combat between Alexander (Henry) and the Grandmaster of the Teutonic Knights (Constable of France).  Branagh’s 1991 remake of Henry V owes more to Welles’  “Chimes at Midnight” than Olivier’s Henry – especially the mud and blood and  slow motion in the battle scenes, as well as Robbie Coltrane’s brief turn as Falstaff.  One place where Olivier’s version still stands way above Branagh’s is the speech before the battle; Olivier didn’t see fit to ruin it by having “stirring” music swelling behind Shakespeare’s words. 

Conversations with Fellini, edited by Costanzo Costantini (Harvest,1995)

A fascinating book, in the sense that the questions are shaped to appear tricky, demanding, sometimes aggressive – but which Fellini fields with self-deprecation, humour and beautifully turned metaphors.  The book is fraudulent, therefore, but the fraud is clearly  part of the Fellini package, so it rings true to the man.  Mastroianni was clearly born to play Fellini’s alter ego.

Blackpaint

25/08/11

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 172

August 11, 2010

Blackpaint is back

Dozens of readers have contacted me in a state of confusion and  panic about my absence, but I am happy to say  I’m back, with much to report.  “Dozens” may be a small exaggeration…

Guggenheim, Bilbao 

Did the usual walk through the Serra iron alleyways, said hello to the Dine giant red wooden Venuses, the Koon flower dog and the Bougeois spider.

Abstract Expressionists

A delightful surprise, this – a room with three Motherwells, a huge Rothko, a Clyfford Still and  a de Kooning. 

Motherwell

 “Venetian Red Studio”, a red rectangle with a black outlined square in top right corner (we’re talking big here; 6 ft by 10, maybe); “Iberia”, one of a sreies, all black with a white square “torn” out of corner, like a Still; and “The Voyage; Ten Years after” – tripartite landscape canvas, ochre, white and black sections with big blue and black splatters and a big, spreading brown stain, like gravy.  I thought it was a Helen Frankenthaler at first, because of the staining.  Doesn’t sound too good, does it, but actually looks  great.  No, really.

Rothko

“Untitled”, of  course.  Vast, maybe 14ft by 10, in four segments from bottom, like wide stripes; red, yellow, yellow-green, lime-ish green, reminded me strongly of the Miles Davis “Sketches of  Spain” cover (although I think that had a little black Quixote and Panza silhouette).  Opposite the entry arch, a breathtaker.

Clyfford Still

Much smaller, maybe 4 by 2ft, a plain canvas with lots of brown foliage-like markings and a thin red strip or “zip” down or up the length of canvas – according to Still, it was up,apparently very  important.

de Kooning

“Villa Borghese”, portrait, say 6 ft  by 5, pink, green, blue, yellow and green/yellow smear/splurges.. smurges?  Vigorous strokes, almost swipes, up, across, and in triangular shape.  You can see its a picture of  a big house and garden – if you need to.

Rousseau

Douanier, that is.  An exhibition of his stuff upstairs.  Apparently influential on Cubists, particularly Picasso, his “painted collage” style – background painted first, then foregrounding in stages, giving a stuck-on effect to foremost images, which is very striking.  Some “jungle” pictures (famously based on in the local zoological gardens) and some decidedly dodgy portraits.

Two pictures stood out for me – “Les Artilleurs”, obviously from a photograph; 14 soldiers, white trousers, blue tunics, big artillery piece.  The other, surreal clowns in a wooded landscape, very high moon, huge twilight sky, and a VERY low ground – reminded me of that Kobke painting in National Gallery earlier in year, the one done from the roof of the castle, way down the canvas with vast sky.  Only in terms of the perspective, however;  you couldn’t really call Kobke’s stuff surreal – it’s so normal, yet empty (but then, Delvaux, de Chirico…).

Did Picasso really revere him?  there’s something in Penguin Book of Art Writing on a party at R’s, which I think implies they made fun of him – I’ll  re-read it for tomorrow.  I was thinking maybe Rousseau was a sort of Ornette Coleman- type figure, sort of derided at first, too advanced in his approach to be appreciated by anyone but a handful.  I’ll come back to that too.

No new paintings yet, so an old one will have to do..

St. John on Patmos