Posts Tagged ‘Hoffman’

Blackpaint 261

March 17, 2011

The Emperor

I forgot that Japan still had an emperor – Akahito, isn’t it?  When I saw him on TV, I thought he looked like a character from a David Lynch film.  It’s quite surprising that in the world’s third largest economy, disaster survivors are rationed to half a rice ball a day and lack bedding and other essentials – not so different to New Orleans after Katrina really.  No doubt I’m wrong, so back to art.

I thought I’d revisit some old favourites.

Asger Jorn

Look at “den Hellige Have” (the Holy Garden”); the gamut of colours he manages to bring together.  Green, green-blue, ultramarine, cadmium yellow, red, black, pink, orange – shades of Hoffman and de Kooning.  I think you need to have a surface roughness and  drawn quality around the different colours to bring this off, otherwise it’s too vivid, like a child’s painting.  His pictures from the mid 60s are so varied in style.

Joan Mitchell

Her middle period stuff – again, early to mid 60s – sometimes look like exploding heads (see La Chatiere 1960); like Appel, but colours less screaming and without the inch deep ridges and canyons of paint.

Peter Lanyon

Has a definite palette, sometimes quite close to Alfred Wallis (see Porthleven); green, sea green, blue, brown.  Also sky blues, white, red and orange (see Soaring Flight, Offshore, Eagle Pass, Wreck).

Michelangelo

“The Rebellious Slave (prisoner)”, in the Louvre; look at the complex of interlocking muscles in the depression behind his pushed-forward, left shoulder and below thw thick band of muscle extending from the shoulder to the back of the neck – fantastic work.

Frank Auerbach

I may have said this before, but to see his work in the Tate Britain, you would think he was a dirty, muddy painter.  In fact, many of his paintings sing with colour; blues. yellows, oranges, white, greens – both portraits and cityscapes.  I think he is the greatest living figurative painter, in that he is more varied and experimental than Lucian Freud.

RB Kitaj

Again, may have said this before, but the surprise to see his completely different approaches to doing the human figure.  In his painted tableaux, they are square-ish, stiff, roughly drawn, cartoon – like; in the life drawings, they are, to my mind,  unparalleled in the skill and beauty of the execution.  I really can’t think of anyone better .  That woman with the Veronese back and the three studies currently in the British Museum exhibition..  Go and see them, if you are not familiar with them, and see if I am exaggerating.

Abstract painting

I’m still constantly amazed to hear people describe abstraction as “modern art”.  It’s really old-fashioned now, surely, retro not modern.  Maybe it’s just a British thing that it has to represent something in the real world (landscape, portrait, storm at sea) or else, it’s a picture of nothing.  Highest praise is, “You really feel like you are there”.  Also interesting is that politics has little to do with taste; the most radical of politicos often have the most fiercely conservative views on art.  With this in mind, I have returned to figurative painting (see below).

Aphrodite at the Waterhole (apologies to Hancock)

Blackpaint

16.03.11

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Blackpaint 237

December 31, 2010

Only half an hour to write the rest of my yearly review:

May 2010 – Henry Moore at Tate Britain.   Great exhibition, lots of sniping from critics.  I liked the early ones with marks scored on them.

May – Futurist room at TM.  That huge WWI Bomberg of the field battery.

May – Fra Angelico to Leonardo at the British Museum.  Not surprisingly, the anatomical drawings of Leo and Mick far outshone the rest.

May – Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh.  Has to be the Melville “abstracts”.

May – “Exposed” at Tate Modern.  Tillmans’ B and W photos of the flats.

June 2010 – Tate Britain; Rude Britannia.  Angus Fairhurst’s cartoons.  Also, the huge Ayres painting that was like bits of breakfast, and the early Bacon room with Goering’s dog.

June – Sally Mann at the Photographers Gallery.  The somewhat sinister pictures of her kids on the riverbanks.

July 2010 – Fiona Banner’ hanging flatfish Harrier at the TB.

July – Turtle Burners’ Portrait prize; the officer after the party.

July – Alice Neel at the Whitechapel; Warhol in his underpants.

August 2010 – Guggenheim, Bilbao; Rauschenberg’s Gluts.

August – Tate Britain; John Riddy’s great photo of tattered posters on a brick wall.

Aug -Frederick Cayley Robinson at the National Gallery; those little red dots in the picture.

Aug – Fakes exhibition at the NG; that terrible “Poussin”.

Aug – Agnes Martin at the TM.  Pristine.

Aug – Francis Alys at the TM; running into the dust storm.

Aug – Wolfgang Tillmans at the Serpentine; fantastic – those tendrils of coloured ink floating across the canvas.

Sept 2010 – Tate St.Ives; stunning Appel and Hoffman.

Sept. – Jeremy Deller’s flattened car from Iraq at the Imperial War Museum.  Is it art?

Sept. – Rachel Whiteread; “bodily fluids” on her bed drawing.

Oct. 2010 – Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seeds; I walked upon them and breathed the dust.

Oct – Gauguin at the TM.  Has to be Jacob Wrestling the Angel.

Oct – Turner Prize.  I would have picked Dexter Dalwood.

Oct – Clive Head at NG.   Yes, they look (to me) exactly like super – enlarged photographs.

Nov 2010 – Bridget Riley at NG.  That Big Flame one – beautiful.

Dec 2010 – Cezanne’s card players and pipe smokers (Courtauld); the little flecks of “dandruff”.

Dec – Tate rehangs; the Spencer “Woolshop” and Bomberg “ju jitsu”, and the Gary Hume cricket.

Dec – British Museum, fabulous drawings, “Picasso to Mehretu”.  I went again today.  Dine, Kitaj, Matisse, Richter …..

Thats it.  Best of the year: Sally Mann, Tillmans, Tate St.Ives, British Museum drawings.

The One that Got Away:  Joan Mitchell in Edinburgh, I’m sorry to say.

Blackpaint

31/12/10

Happy New Year.

Blackpaint 234

December 24, 2010

British Museum Prints and Drawings (cont.)

Baselitz – Seated person in looping and criss-crossing black ink – but upside-down, as usual.

Hans Hoffman – A surprise for me to see this most painterly of painters in a drawing exhibition.  More looping and straight black strokes, a little like Bram Van der Velde, on red and … white, I think.  From the other end of the room, looked like an abstract Rouault, if such things there are.

Anastasi – New one on me; “Subway Drawings”, because done on the subway – with his eyes closed.  Little clouds of fine black lines on either end of a thicker black bar, like a barbell with fuzzy knapweed instead of weights.  I don’t know what the idea was (maybe just to see what came out).

Jay Defeo – Wrote about her one or two blogs back; a friend of the 1st generation “Beats”.  This a technically superb rendering of the top of a camera tripod (a little like Richard Hamilton in 60s).  Apparently, she did this stuff to relax between her proper abstracts.

Franz Kline – Instantly recognisable thick black calligraphy, like a letter K on its side.  Called “Untitled”, of course.

Seliger – Forgot first name.  Looping marks like etching (maybe it was) or staining in grey.  Like a cross between Jaap Wagemaker andLucebert.

Franz Ackermann – Modern white apartments, stadium, seashore, brightly coloured and as if through a fish-eye lens.

George Grosz – Street scenes of Weimar Berlin with usual caricatures – none the worse for that.

Dubuffet – “Landscape in Yellow” – usual scraped and scored surface, about as much like a landscape as a rhinoceros – which brings me to…

Durer – The famous rhino, etching and original drawing, in the permanent display bit.  As everyone knows, he’d never seen one and was going on a written description of the one delivered to Brussels(?) Zoo during his time.  If it’s true that he’d never seen one, it’s a pretty miraculous likeness, allowing for a few bizarrities (I know, but it should be a word).

Mehretu – One of those precise, exploding lines abstracts that look like computer graphics (probably are).

Merry Christmas to Christian readers – probably aren’t any left, by now.

Blackpaint

24.12.10

Blackpaint 194

September 15, 2010

Art of World War 2

Just seen this programme on BBC2 and very apposite to the Deller exhibit it was.  In the discussion of the work of Graham Sutherland, known before the war as a landscape artist, was the observation that, in Sutherland’s pictures of the blitzed East End streets, the twisted machinery of bombed factories,  lift shafts etc., the tortured machinery stood in for the dead bodies, wounded and homeless that Sutherland couldn’t bring himself to sketch, while they were there before him.  Isn’t this exactly what Deller’s car is doing – standing in for the dead, dismembered and dying?  Sutherland’s work is unquestionably art, though; you can make artistic critical comments about it, whereas you can’t really about the Deller car.  If the Deller car is art, so are other exhibits in other places that are also historical evidence representing murdered individuals; no need to be specific in a trivial conjecture about the nature of art.

Leonard Rosoman

Whilst at the War Museum, had to go up and see the paintings and was struck once again by the beauty of two paintings,  both by the above.  I think I’ve mentioned them before – one is of a radar installation, the other of an aeroplane with wings folded, in the early morning sun.  They both have a great stillness, like a Sutherland, and the most beautiful rose colour, with orange touches I seem to recall (may be wrong on this).  Rosoman was a fireman in the Blitz and did that famous painting of the wall collapsing on the two firemen.

In fact, several of the painters look like Sutherland at that time, although very different later; I’m thinking of Keith Vaughan, John Piper and perhaps, Robert Colquhoun.  A really strong Bomberg, called “Bomb store”, in his usual rich, smouldering bronzes, reds and browns, resembles Sutherland’s Welsh landscape with skull in the Tate Britain – but then, it looks more like his own landscapes!  I’d be interested to know who was “being influenced” by whom.

Some great John Pipers, showing bunkers and air control rooms; these were featured on the BBC2 prog as well.  I have to say that Piper had one of the most striking faces I’ve ever seen – almost an inverted triangle, thin, almost skull-like, and with a fierce gaze.

Elizabeth Neel again

All this stuff about the Deller car and war art has made me feel a little bit guilty about being an abstract artist and doing paintings about paint – especially, as someone on a comedy show on TV last night said about the Abstract Expressionists, “letting the paint do all the work”.  Looking at Neel’s stuff again reminded me that I don’t have the slightest need to know what a painting is based on, what it’s “about”, to derive a real, sharp pleasure from it. 

I can only compare the experience of seeing a great abstract painting to  hearing THAT music for  the first time;  in my case, Little Richard singing (screaming!) “The Girl Can’t Help it” and then  later on, the Beatles doing “Please Please Me”,  Big Joe Williams doing “Baby Please Don’t Go”.  It’s raw, viscerally exciting, makes you want to get up and jump around the room, doesn’t matter what the words are,  it’s the sound (just had a deja vu – have I written all this before?  Oh well…)

That feeling compares  to seeing de Kooning’s Palisades or Joan  Mitchell’s stuff or Hans Hoffman’s – too old and self-conscious to jump around the room, but the feeling is there.  This is the real stuff, the guts of art – the rest, political commitment, symbolism, ideas, all that,  is just froth on the daydream.  For me, of course – might be different for you.

Usher’s Well by Blackpaint

15.09.10

Blackpaint 188

September 7, 2010

Tate St.Ives – Final word

Went back for a second visit and nothing to add on minimal stuff  or the Lily van der Stokker, but –

Frink

The “Harbinger Bird” is made of plaster – I had assumed wood, light coloured and unsmoothed.

Hoffman

Looking for the famous “push-pull” effect.  Couldn’t get it at all – some bits are obviously on top of others but that’s because you can see the boundary lines or brush marks, not because of some inherent property of the colours.  Not to say it’s not a great painting; especially that  blue colour, which reminds me of powder paints at primary school – some years ago, now.

Sandra Blow

Her “Vivace”, in her own words, was “an attempt to make a gestural work that was not tried and retried…, that happened “immediately””.  Looking through a booklet on her by Mel Gooding, however, I saw she had done another one, almost the same, this time in blue.  Some people can only do so much spontaneity.  Not a criticism, I love her stuff.

Lanyon

Is that a shark approaching from the right?

Tunnard

On second viewing, what struck me was the “technical drawing” aspect – the shapes were a bit like one of those old geometry sets you used to get in flat tin boxes.  Precision has its place, of course, and there are those who admire it for the workmanship, the care, the expertise…  Fuck all that,  I say, get some paint on your brush (or knife, or whatever) and whack it on, give it some stick, roll about on it naked – sorry, back in control again.

Raphael Cartoons

A couple of weeks ago – after Tillmans at Serpentine – went to V&A and looked for the Cartoons; couldn’t  find them.  Now I know why; they form the basis of a special exhibition with four tapestries, I think based on the Cartoons, from the Sistine Chapel, lent by the Vatican “to mark the pope’s visit” (Jonathan Jones in  the Guardian).  So, for the last few years, the punter has been able to see the cartoons for free.  Now, I presume you have to pay (Jones gives a box office number) for the privilege of seeing the eight, was it? plus the four from the Vatican.

I’ve found this quite often with exhibitions in museums and galleries; you pay your money and find that most of the stuff has been on display in the permanent collection for ages.  It disappears and turns up again, with a few extras chucked in.  Shouldn’t moan really; museums and galleries ARE free – probably won’t  be by next week – and you can’t blame them for exploiting a bit of earning potential.  Well, you can of  course and I do. 

I hate that “to mark the pope’s visit”, as well.  A pox on all religions and non-democratic political systems and cultural PR of this sort – remember the Turkish exhibition at the Royal Academy a few years back, that coincided with the discussions about Turkey joining the EU?  Art is politics – and so is religion.  Jones says as much in his last sentence.

And he’s  right about the best of the cartoons, too; The Miraculous Draught of Fishes.

Not a Raphael cartoon, but an old Blackpaint job.

Blackpaint

07.09.10

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.

Goldsmiths

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!

Blackpaint

19.04.10