Posts Tagged ‘Jim Dine’

Blackpaint 233

December 22, 2010

British Museum – Drawings; Picasso – Mehretu

Total surprise, this; free alternative to spending £12 on the Book of the Dead exhibition.  And one of the best exhibitions I’ve seen this year (review of the year to follow after Christmas).

Straightaway, I have to mention Jim Dine – “The Diemaker”.  Beautiful drawing, white shirt and tie barely suggested, slumped seated pose, one hand a grey cloud, heavy shading on face and left side, which looks strangely collapsed in shadow.

RB Kitaj – “Sides”, 1976.  Three depictions of male right side, from about chin to mid thigh, chalks on yellow paper; just stunning life drawings, class of Michelangelo.  Lean, muscular body, great, sweeping curve of lower back into buttocks – fabulous.

Picasso – sketch in red chalk for “Desmoiselles d’Avignon”, an upperbody and head, and separate face, latter recognisable as a desmoiselle, former not like P. at all – heavy overdrawing, more like Rouault, say.

Matisse – “Lady in Taffeta Dress”, charcoal on paper, dress folds suggested with usual economy, fewest lines throughout – but solid.

Bonnard – “Dining Room at Cannet”, coloured drawing, 1940.  Actually a laid table, but done in perspective rather than dropped down, or forward, at this late date.  Chairlegs on right rather dodgy, though.

Anselm Keifer – “Dein goldenes Haar Margarete”, a line from Paul Celan’s Holocaust poem “Todesfuge”.  Ground level cornstalks against a blue sky, the words of the title painted across it.  The blue of the sky a surprising (to me) soft note from this artist.

Guston – Two Guston drawings, the first one of his KKK crowds, milling about in a cave, their button eyes looking somehow startled; the other, “Hooded”, a single head in a non-Klan covering, suggesting torture today, obviously.

David Smith – A drawing very like his “landscape” sculptures, a framework with dangling bits and screwed-on ratchets(?).  They remind me of those Airfix kits with the plane parts stuck on plastic frame for you to twist off.

Dorothy Dehner – Smith’s 1st wife. “The Great Gate of Kiev”, an exploded plan of a wooden structure – but it’s flying!

Kirchner – Three, I think, and interesting to hit his gestural, expressionist style first, as you pass from the little ante room with the permanent collection of early drawings, etchings and mezzotints, showing evidence of sheer, painstaking effort.  Kirchner like a draught of cold, strong wine or a release of breath.

Enough for today – rest of drawings tomorrow.


Looked at the Epifania cartoon again, in this section – I’m sure that the standing figure on the viewer’s right is a self-portrait.  The broken nose is there and it looks to me like a pumped-up version of the famous St.Bartholomew’s skin self portrait on the Sistine wall – only grinning.



Blackpaint 160

June 27, 2010

The Vivisector by Patrick White

I’m still reading this, after months, as a result of my obsessive behaviour in reading a dozen books at once, four pages at a time.  Consequently, I can never remember what happened at the start by the time I finish.  With some books this doesn’t matter; Beckett’s “The Unnameable” for  example.  If you’ve read it, you’ll know what I mean. 

The Patrick White, however, is great, but I think difficult.  Anyway, today I came to a bit which struck me very hard.  Duffield (White’s painter, apparently based on a combo of Bacon and Nolan) at the age of fifty-five, is brought suddenly down to earth by a shopgirl referring to him as “elderly”.  His reaction is to retreat into his house, where his paintings are waiting for him:

“The paintings, the earlier ones you end by accepting like inherited moral traits, had withdrawn apathetically into the walls on which they were hanging.  They were less humiliating, however, than the bravura of technique, the unsolved problems of space, the passages of turgid paint, which glared at him from the later ones standing around the skirting boards.  Most disturbing of all was the painting on the easel…before his going out, it had struck him as having a lucidity, an almost perfect simplicity….all lost with his going out; the smallgoods girl…..had done away with the membrane separating truth from illusion. ”

This is something I guess that everyone who aspires to creative work experiences frequently – all the time, in fact.  Something you thought was quite good, you were perhaps a bit excited about, suddenly dies and drains away, on the wall or the page.  You can’t think how you failed to notice the scrappy bits, the dead areas, the garishness of that blue which you had thought was subtle, the boring bit in the top left, the glare of the colours generally.  Always there is the lack of originality, in that what you think of as good is the result of your work looking a bit like someone else’s that you like.  If it were original, you wouldn’t like it in the first place.

So, White writes well about painting.  This scene is followed by Duffield using an outside toilet, but unlike Leopold Bloom, that constipation of yesterday is NOT gone.  Other toilet scenes in modern literature; Inside Mr.Enderby by Anthony Burgess, Jubb by Keith Waterhouse , a short story (I think) by John Cheever and of course, Trainspotting.

After that short digression into literature, back to art.

Jim Dine

Beautiful woodblock prints of classical sculptures, done in the late 80s; “Red Dancer on the Western Shore” and the “Oil of Gladness” (actually a brightly coloured print of the Venus de Milo).


Two pictures done in 1961 and 2, “Nives” and “Portrait of Janine” that, at first glance, are very much like de Kooning women.

Blackpaint, not Appel of course.