Posts Tagged ‘John Minton’

Blackpaint 669 – From the Lockdown

April 15, 2020

Some pictures that I really like

Very lame heading, I know, but no exhibitions accessible during the lockdown, so I’m forced to improvise and go back to the archives.

 

Red Nude, Karel Appel (Ghent)

He can smash those colours together and they never turn into mud.  the black ground too…

 

Sleeping Child, Will Barnet (Washington)

I’d never heard of this US artist, despite the fact that he lived to over 100 (died 2012) and ran a famous print studio in the States.  Very stylised, Japanese-y…

 

The Entombment, Caravaggio (Vatican)

Nothing needs to be said about this – so I’ll say nothing.

 

Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling, Holbein (London)

Is there another portraitist who comes anywhere near Holbein?  Might get a blog out of that in the future…

 

Orange and Black Wall, Franz Kline (Madrid)

The colours here I think  detract from the trademark starkness of Kline’s monochrome pictures – but they add something too; variety obviously!

 

The Rape of Europa. Titian (Boston)

There was a TV prog last week on the series of paintings which Titian did for Philip II of Spain.  The paintings are, or were, on exhibition at the National Gallery – but the lockdown has closed the NG.  Some of the TV prog was taken up with discussion about objectification and sexualisation of women by male artists and purchasers.  Mary Beard opined at the end that the pictures should be shown because they tell us a lot about sexual violence against women.

I seem to recall reading or hearing on TV somewhere that the word rape, as in the example above and in the various kidnappings of the Sabine women, meant abduction, rather than the assault itself.  That’s clearly the case with Titian’s painting – yet Beard asserted several times (I think) that we were seeing a rape in progress.  It’s confusing for us old, white men.

 

Comtesse d’Haussonville, Ingres (New York)

Stunning portrait, but like the paintings in the Tate Britain’s “British Baroque” exhibition, the real focus of interest is the dress.

 

Cemetery in Corsica 1948, John Minton

A re-showing last week of Mark Gatiss’ great documentary on the painter, teacher and illustrator John Minton.  I have to say that I loved the Cornish pictures, reminiscent as they were of Sutherland and Piper, but found the bright colours of his Thameside paintings rather jarring.  I really like this Corsican one with the green sky, though.

 

I haven’t mentioned any films of late; in recent weeks, however, the virus has led me to do little else but watch DVDs.  Here are a few-

 

Caravaggio, Derek Jarman (1987)

Tilda Swinton as Lena, an angel with a dirty face.  I don’t know if Jarman’s film has any connection to historical reality, but it’s certainly visually brilliant, especially the colours and the bodies on show – all swathed in Caravaggian blacknesses as above.  Sean Bean and Dexter Fletcher sneer, grin threateningly, brandish knives, pop their pecs and sweat glossily and Nigel Terry, as the adult Caravaggio, has the necessary authority – and looks just like the painter.  There is also the impish Dawn Archibald, who does amazing things with her body – to loosen up after modelling.  I was saddened to discover that she died in her 50s in 2016, having been a peace activist for some time in the Edinburgh Women in Black group. RIP.

Dawn Archibald in Caravaggio

 

Le Jour se Leve, Marcel Carne (1939)

Jean Gabin and Arletty in a Parisian bar, prior to the killing of the dog trainer (don’t ask) and the ensuing siege in the top apartment.  Gabin’s character, despite the gangster cap and hard man expression, works as a paint sprayer and rides a drop handle bike…

 

Hotel du Nord, Marcel Carne (1938)

Arletty again, this time with pimp Louis Jouvet and a couple of police heavies.  Arletty, also a star of Carne’s Les Enfants du Paradis, was imprisoned for collaboration after WW11; she “had an affair” (seems a quaint phrase to me now) with a German officer who later became a diplomat in Africa – and was eaten by a crocodile.  Which has nothing to do with the merits of the film; like the other two Carne fims mentioned, it’s still sort of hypnotic and archetypal in settings, characters and story.

To end, two recent paintings of mine:

Drop in the Ocean

Sonia’s Twisting Pose

Blackpaint

15th April 2020

Blackpaint 625 Murder, Sex, Suicide and Some Lovely Cornish Scenery

August 15, 2018

Magic Realism, Tate Modern

This is an excellent exhibition. free for a start, and always interesting, though the art is not all to my taste.  The term Magic Realism has come to be associated primarily with Latin American writing and implies a sort of teeming, intensified, intoxicated hyper-realism, spilling over into surrealism at times and then reeling back.  It is characterised by exaggeration, violence, a sort of profusion or excess that goes well with jungles, dictators, extremes of every kind – think Jodorowsky as well as Marquez.  The term was coined apparently back in 20s Germany, however.

Well, it’s all here: sex murders, suicides, hanging women, prostitution, garish, lurid colours, reds, sulphurous yellows, acid greens, paint like shining varnish.  The circus is a big thing, as are nightclubs, cabarets… seems to me there is something of a spillage into the stuff of “Aftermath”.  Grosz is well represented, with his scathing, precise caricatures – he’s very hard on prostitutes, it seems to me; he treats them not as victims (unless it’s a “Lustmorder”), but as predators and exploiters of the poor.  Dix also has plenty of drawings:  ringmistresses with whips, circus cowboys and Indians tearing round on horseback.

A selection of the pictures below:

 

Albert Birkle, The Acrobat Schulz (1921)

A terrific portrait – reminds me somewhat of Wyndham-Lewis, “The Tyro” maybe, BUT-

 

Albert Birkle

-the same artist was responsible for this monstrosity of a crucifixion.

 

George Grosz, Suicide Street with Dog 

 

Rudolf Schlichter, Woman in Red Scarf

One of several excellent portraits, the best, I think.  These artists seem to favour a confrontational representation, the subject staring straight out at the viewer.

 

Max Beckmann, Woman with Fan

 

Didn’t get this artist’s name but the colours and texture are typical.

 

Lovis Corinth

This Corinth is completely different in style and execution and feel from everything else there.  By the way, that is a white tee shirt and rucksack in the foreground, not a woman in Handmaid’s Tale dress..

Mark Gatiss on John Minton: The Lost Man of Art (BBC4)

A brilliant programme on Minton, painter and illustrator of the 40s and 50s, who killed himself in 1957.  Gatiss feels that his stature was never properly recognised, partly because he was branded “illustrator” (that is, not a proper artist):  he did lots of book covers, famously Elizabeth David’s Mediterranean cookbook.  Also, like many others, he was left behind when Abstract Expressionism arrived.  His students, for example, Robyn Denny, attacked him for his inability to embrace abstraction, “action”, gesturalism, whatever you choose to call it.  Then, there was the heavy drinking (par for the course in the London art world of the time) and the homosexuality, illegal and physically dangerous in post WW2 Britain.

I was struck by how similar his more stylised representation of human figures was to other painters on the scene: Colquhoun and MacBryde, for instance, and early Prunella Clough. all friends of his.  Like Kitaj and Hockney a little later, he was also capable, however, of a naturalistic precision in his portraits, like the one of Nevill Wallace below – looks a bit like a Degas to me.  The others I show were, I think, from his Cornish sojourn and resemble in some degree Sutherland, Piper and maybe Lanyon.

 

 

 

 

 

Ghost Geese Fly West

Blackpaint

August 2018

 

 

 

Blackpaint 583 – Ignored Women, Mahler and Bloom, Soutine and Schwabacher

January 22, 2017

London Art Fair

Finishes today (Sunday) unfortunately; below, a selection of the best paintings on view:

minton

John Minton

Medieval quality to this, somehow..

 

sutherland

Graham Sutherland (of course) – that blue, with the orange…

 

robin-denny

Robyn Denny three piece – before he went geometric/minimalist…

 

leigh

Leigh Davis – just a fabulous little painting, touch of Lanyon, maybe?

 

crozier1

William Crozier – I love the dry, spiky roughness of his earlier work.  There was another one that I didn’t get a photo of, again with that fiery roughness; if you look at his images online, they are somehow gentler, more “at rest”; I guess they are later.

 

crozier2

A couple of Crozier watercolours, to illustrate what I mean by “at rest”.

audrey

Audrey Grant

I love these rough portraits – there’s a bit of early Hockney there, and Nathan Oliviera and Manuel Neri (Bay Area, 60s ).

In addition to these were : a single flower in a vase against a grey/pink background by Euan Uglow; a beautiful yellow Craigie Aicheson; an Uglow-like dresser (cabinet, not person) by William Brooker;  a couple of unusual Ivon Hitchens – unusual, because they contained figures.  And the brilliant usual suspects, Allan Davie, Adrian Heath, Roger Hilton and a single Gillian Ayres, lozenge shaped and pink – or was it grey? – background.

Mahler, Ken Russell (1974)

mahler2

Robert Powell in the main role, strong resemblance to the real Mahler, judging by the photographs.  Great start; dream sequence of a blazing chalet, Georgina Hale (Alma Mahler) emerging, writhing, from a white cocoon on a rocky shore.  Some vigorously rendered Jewish stereotypes from the likes of Lee Montague, Miriam Karlin and John Bluthal as parents and family of the young Mahler – maybe a little too vigorous for today’s tastes – and Cosima Wagner (Antonia Ellis) , in a German helmet and black bondage bodice, in front of a giant sword, waving a whiplash and yelling commands at a timorous Mahler as he undergoes his conversion from Judaism to Christianity to further his career.  Are there swastikas?  I’m pretty sure there are, maybe carved in the rocks…no, just checked; there’s one on her backside.

I’m sure it happened exactly as Ken portrayed it.  Brings to mind the Nighttown scene in Ulysses, when the brothel madam Bella Cohen bullies the hapless Leopold Bloom, transformed as he is into one of Cohen’s girls…

The music, of course, is fantastic, although mainly, I think, from the first three symphonies, and Kindertotenlieder.

Soutine

At last, found a book on the weird and influential Chaim Soutine; it’s by Klaus H Carl and is published by Parkstone International.  The English is bizarre at times and Carl tends to regard the reader as a complete ignoramus – but the illustrations are great and it’s only a tenner (in Foyles).

Those bent faces and tables and pots, breakneck angles and steps in the landscapes, people walking leaning way over to one side – remind me of Sokurov’s “Mother and Son”.  And if you like texture, Soutine is your man.

Women AbExes

Another book, “Women of Abstract Expressionism”, Joan Marter (ed), Yale University Press 2016.  Based on a Denver exhibition, it documents a number of lesser-known, or ignored, women abexes, beyond Frankenthaler, Mitchell, Krasner, Hartigan and Elaine de Kooning.  I’ve mentioned Pat Passlof before; best of the rest as far as I’m concerned, are Perle Fine, Ethel Schwabacher, Deborah Remington and Mary Abbott.

schwabacher-origins-i-for-web

Ethel Schwabacher – Origins i, 1958

The American Scene – prints from Hopper to Pollock (Stephen Coppel, British Museum Press 2008)

The last book recommendation, this is being sold off cheaply at the British Museum, along with a number of other catalogues.  It has some fantastic stuff –  Grant Wood, James E Allen, Robert Gwathmey – well, they are mostly brilliant.  Also, they have the complete Kitaj prints for a fiver – or they did when I went.

One of mine to end with:

time-and-place-no-7

Time and Place, No.7

Blackpaint

22/01/17