Posts Tagged ‘Jean-Paul Riopelle’

Blackpaint 279

June 11, 2011

Franz Kline

Time, surely, for a Taschen book on Kline; I’ve just come across a painting by him called “Gay Street Rooftops” dated 1941.  Good, but pretty conventional cityscape stuff.  I’d like to know how he got from that to those black and white structures (Chinese letters, some compare them to) for which he is known.


“Vol de Chute” from 1961, a fantastic, Appel-like painting, lozenge shapes of colour with that spidery black scoring outlining them in bands, like barbed wire; blue, yellow, orange, white, green , grey…  it’s all there.


“Grey Center”, (I know, but it’s an American picture) 1946, one of the Accabonac Creek series; lots of leggy, angular shapes – maybe more like  knees and elbows, I thought at first by Lee Krasner, rather than Pollock;  it’s in white, grey, pink and ochre – de Kooning colours.  Still appears to have vestiges of the figures he used to put at either side of his paintings; “Pasiphae”, for instance (name of the painting was supplied by his dealer, Pollock not being familiar with Ovid at the time).

Fra Angelico

A while back, writing about violence in paintings, I mentioned Caravaggio’s Abraham and  Isaac, saying that C ‘s painting showed a brutal realism. It is exemplified  in the way Abraham grasps the boy’s face and throat in preparation for the killing stroke with the knife.  Of all artists, Fra Angelico matches this in his “Massacre of the Innocents” (San Marco, Florence).  The soldier on the far right grasps a woman’s throat while thiusting the dagger into her baby’s throat; she is holding the blade, trying to push it away.  Expressions of grief and horror, and violence all around.

This contrasts strongly with Piero della Francesca, who was being discussed, I think by Tim Marlow on TV the other night.  The painting in question was a battle scene but it appeared to me to be absolutely static – something in the way Piero paints seems to drain all movement from his paintings.  And the faces appear expressionless; they don’t engage with the other figures, but usually stare out from the canvas.  I think they look like figures in surrealist paintings, say Delvaux or de Chirico.

Le Quattro Volte

Film by Michelangelo Frammartino.  A sort of seasonal portrait of an Italian mountain village, almost silent – the camera views from a distance much of the time.  It has the Brughel snow scene (cf. Tarkovsky’s “Mirror”); close-ups of wood surfaces, like a tree trunk with lichen and scrambling ants, drifting smoke, a spectacular sky – and lots of goats – those amazing rectangular retinal slots in their eyes.  It seems as if nothing much happens, but it does: a goatherd looks after his flock, coughs, and dies eventually-  we accompany him into the catacomb and hear the door shut on us.  There is a crucifixion festival, a tree felling and climbing festival, and eventually – second time I’ve said that, must say something about the film – we find out what they’re making and why all the smoke.

It skirts sentimentality – the little lost goat, the doughty dog, life and death, life goes on, the men  shake hands with each other  before doing business….  I suppose all films are romantic in one sense, though, as soon as you frame a scene and a narrative emerges.  What about Chien Andalou and l’Age d’Or?  Probably they’re romantic too – have to think about that one.



Blackpaint 163

July 6, 2010


The Taschen says that Mick’s St. Paul statue is a self portrait, citing the “broken nose” (given to Mick by fellow sculptor Torrigiani).  Can’t see it myself; if the famous portrait of M by Jacopo del Conte is a close resemblance, and it appears to chime with the St. Bartholomew skin self portrait and others, the St.Paul statue looks nothing like him.  I reckon my candidate is a better bet (the man in the background of the cartoon in the British Museum).  Having said that, it’s still a brilliant book.

You know when you’re flicking through an old catalogue and something just makes you catch your breath and think you’d like to see a gallery full of this person’s pictures right now – I’ve had that experience today with two artists who happen to be on opposite pages of a Christie’s catalogue, from 1989.  They are

Marie Elena Vieira da Silva b. 1908, “Le Monte Charge”, and

Jean-Paul Riopelle b.1932, “Retrecit de L’Ile”.

The da Silva is blue-grey and black blocks with buff and white traces, that looks pretty much like a harbour full of grey water from a plane.  The Riopelle is wilder, a much more fractured surface made up of what look like dabs of thick paint with a square brush – but it’s still got that harbour thing going.  Both of them seem to stick – or have stuck – to a similar formula for most of their works; sort of echoes of de Stael again with variations; that was one influential artist.

I’ve noticed their work before; I would guess that da Silva was Portuguese and Riopelle I came across in the Joan Mitchell book – he was her partner in France for some years.  I think the reason I’ve not mentioned them before is that their names are difficult – pathetic, eh?

Another painter in the same catalogue is Peter Bruning; two more breath-catching pictures, called – wait for it; No.2 and No.49.  You can see Damien Hirst’s point about these artists who do hundreds of Untitled’s or just do numbers and dates – it might be a point of principle but it’s really irritating.  Give it a proper name!  Doesn’t have to have anything to do with what it looks like, but it helps punters and bloggers to remember it.

Anyway, I strongly advise the reader to look these painters up on Google and do her/himself a visual favour.  Here’s one of mine in the meantime –

Listening to Bill Evans Town Hall Concert, Turn Out the Stars.