Posts Tagged ‘John Singer Sargent’

Blackpaint 595 – It’s British – but is it all Queer?

April 24, 2017

Queer British Art 1861 – 1967

There is a fair bit of great painting in this show, some of it problematic in terms of its queerness.  When you see a Tom of Finland show, like that at the ICA a while back, or Mapplethorpe photos, as in Helsinki, there are no doubts – it’s full- on queerness.  Here, it’s not so clear.  The Hockney “Physique” picture apart, none of the paintings below are queer in the sense of openly celebrating queerness.  Hardly surprising, given the discriminatory laws in force in Britain between those dates – however, what makes the Singer Sargent portrait of Vernon Lee “queer art”?  Or the Laura Knight self-portrait, of her painting a female nude?  Or William Strang’s picture of the woman in the red hat?  The answers, presumably, are that Sargent and Vernon Lee were both queer, as was Vita Sackville-West (the sitter for the Strang portrait) and Knight’s self-portrait was a conscious protest against the art school ban on women artists painting nude women models.

Anyway, the riches on offer include:

  • Three beautiful Keith Vaughans in his characteristic blue, cream and brown hues, all figure studies I think, including the one below.  Best in show (Crufts again);
  • The Laura Knight self-portrait I mentioned;
  • A couple of terrific Patrick Proctors, quite like Hockney – but different;
  • Ethel Sands – shades of Harold Gilman, Sickert and Vuillard, I thought;
  • A Lord Leighton classical theme that looks like a Bright Young Things fancy dress ball;  fine-boned, handsome youths with lower lips seemingly a-tremble;
  • Duncan Grant swimmers and divers.
  • There are Cecil Beaton and Angus McBean photographs and posters for cross-dressing music hall acts Vesta Tilley et al.

 

Henry Scott Tuke

 

Vernon Lee (author of “The Virgin of the Seven Daggers”) by Singer Sargent

 

Hockney, of course

 

Keith Vaughan

In addition, there are some interesting oddities, such as Oscar Wilde’s cell door from Reading Gaol and Noel Coward’s dressing gown.  Go and see it; interesting history – not all the art is great, because the queerness is maybe more important here than the quality – but enough is great to make a visit worthwhile.  Still not totally comfortable with the idea of using “queer” out loud, though…

Cataracticus

Blackpaint

 

Still on for another week and several paintings still unsold!

Blackpaint

24/04/17

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Blackpaint 561 – Yeats, Dante and the Four Horsemen

July 3, 2016

I’ve been reading Yeats and I thought I could usefully purloin a quote for a title…

slouching towards Bethlehem

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

 

wates2

Green Fuse and Canal in E&A Wates’ Showroom, 82-84 Mitcham Lane

My paintings there for the next couple of weeks as part of the Streatham Festival  @Art23_Streatham.  Green Fuse – nicked that from Dylan Thomas.

 

Painters’ Paintings, National Gallery

The idea behind this exhibition is to show paintings that were owned by famous painters (Freud, Degas, Lawrence, Watts, Van Dyke et al), presumably so that you can judge how that influenced their work, if at all.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take much notice of who owned what, so you’ll have to go yourself, if you’re interested.  What you should be aware of is that many of the paintings are in the NG’s possession and have recently been on the walls as part of the permanent collection.  This has been the case with several exhibitions lately; one good example is the Gauguin bowl of flowers, that was in the Delacroix exhibition.  And the Spartan boys, by Degas…

What I’ve done, then, is to pick out some favourites:

Blanche

Jacques – Emile Blanche, M. Poictevin (1887)

Great portrait, this – reminds me of that one by Strang in the National Portrait Gallery, of Thomas Hardy.  That one’s got a green background, not yellow like the one above; but they both somehow recall those medieval ones by Cranach and the like, and maybe even Holbein.  Blanche also did Joyce, below:

 

joyce

J-E Blanche, James Joyce – this one isn’t in the exhibition, but it is by Blanche; it’s in the NPG.  Very different to the Poictevin portrait – could easily be by Singer Sargent.

 

Again, two very different pictures by Ingres:

ingres dante

Ingres, Dante.  Never would have guessed Ingres, in a month of Sundays.

 

ingres norvins

Ingres, M. de Norvins

That’s more like the Ingres I would expect.  He only took a year or so over this one.

 

caracci woman

Caracci, A Woman Borne off by a Sea God

I picked the Caracci (which is huge) because of the hilarious contrast between the bodies and heads of the cherubic characters to the left and right of the god and the unfortunate woman.  Heads of children, bodies of Olympic weightlifters; compare Michelangelo, the Delphic Sybil from the Sistine Chapel.

cezanne bather

Cezanne, Bather with Outstretched Arm

Proof that brilliant painters sometimes do less than perfect drawings.   My partner says he meant it to be “inaccurate”; I’m not sure.

 

I love this Matisse:

matisse selfie

Matisse, Self-Portrait 1918

Perfect, I think.  Is that a suitcase between his legs, with an ashtray on top?

 

Come and See (Klimov, 1985)

Apocalyptic WW2 film, Bielorussia (Belarus) under German occupation in 1942; Klimov makes much use of Florya’s swollen, dried-out, blistered and horror-struck face, pushed close to the camera, as below, as he witnesses mass murders and rape.  The Nazi troops, with their ragbag of collaborating followers, rampage drunkenly around like tourists from hell, taking photographs of the slaughter to a soundtrack of nightmarish yodelling and marching songs.  I thought of the Tin Drum, Hard to be a God – and in the concentration on the facial close-up, maybe Laszlo Nemes’ Son of Saul – this just hearsay, though; I haven’t yet seen the Nemes (DVD out now).

come and see 1

 

come and see 2

SS Commander with his pet.  Maybe an echo of the Teutonic Knights in Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky.  And Glasha (if it is her who is raped – Wikipedia seems to be in some doubt) is Lavinia from Titus Andronicus…  You are tempted to think that Klimov has gone overboard on the brutality; no conscience-stricken, civilised good Germans here (cf. Cross of Iron, the Pianist); the closing titles point out that more than 600 villages in Bielorussia were destroyed and their inhabitants murdered in exactly the fashion shown here – and that Germans who were there as perpetrators have agreed that it is accurate.

Blackpaint

03.07.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 486 – What’s Left of Cork Street and Singer Sargent at the NPG

March 14, 2015

Cork Street Galleries

Arriving at the RA on Thursday for the Diebenkorn, I found that it didn’t start until the weekend, so went round the remaining Cork Street galleries to see what was to be seen:

Allen Jones 

At the Redfern Gallery, a beautiful sketch of a headless woman that sent me looking for more on the net – couldn’t find more drawings though, other than sketches of dress designs.  Also at the Redfern, some lovely Adrian Heaths, John Wells, Paul Feiler, Roger Hilton.

At Waddington’s,  great Milton Avery, Dubuffet – an enormous statue of one of his black and white men – a couple of big Rauschenbergs and a great little messy Tapies, a bit like a miniature of Gillian Ayres’ big breakfast in Tate Britain (it’s not called that, but if you see it, you’ll see what I mean).

Richard Long –  Spike Island 

At Alan Cristea, some great Longs, prints on paper with aluminium support; two red swirling lines, reminiscent a little of the Twomblys in Tate Mod, and a brown one with dirty protest overtones, as if Jasper Johns had been imprisoned in the H blocks (look it up, younger reader) and joined in.

richard long

Carole Hodgson

At Flowers, some beautiful drawings – or paintings – of hulking, indistinct human forms blending into dark backgrounds; rather like Piper’s Welsh rockscapes.  Small, interlocking sculptures and some bigger ones, rolls of some stiffened paper and sacking mixture,  in ginger and rust colours.

Singer Sargent at the National Portrait Gallery

NOT full, as I had suspected, of loads of SS paintings normally on show in London; I only recognised Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth and the kids in the garden with the lanterns – all the rest were new to me and a good proportion were wonderful.  No-one can do white silks and satins like Sargent, with the exception of Millais maybe; Millais does a super realist rendition (see the Black Brunswicker below), Singer Sargent does a few strategic strokes.  His subjects often look as if they have turned towards a call and he has captured them with a snapshot; Madame Allouard – Jouan (below) is the best example.

sargent jouan

See also Madame Ramon Subercaseaux, turning to us from her seat at the piano, the black Franz Kline lines on her dress…

Madame Edouard Pailleron, the beautiful, but rather drained – looking redhead in the meadow (maybe its the outdoor location)…

Next to her, the staggering portrait of her children; the girl, about to step out of the canvas in her fancy white dress, the boy staring out with a strange intensity…

sargent children

 

The Rodin portrait – could be a Rembrandt…

sargent rodin

Vernon Lee; I know her from “the Virgin of the Seven Daggers” Corgi paperback from the early 60’s.  he did this in three hours according to the booklet…

sargent vernon lee

 

Robert Louis Stevenson and his Wife; Stevenson is walking out of the picture – Degas?  Sickert?

sargent stevenson

 

Self Portrait ; George V or maybe Tsar Nicholas II come to mind…

Edwin Booth; look at those hands! I’m always impressed by painters who give good hand.  For a laugh, I said to my partner he was John Wilkes Booth’s brother – wish I’d said it louder, it turns out he was...

sargent booth

Group with Parasols; composition like a Rubens sketch, colours totally different…

sargent parasols

And lots more – fabulous, beautiful exhibition; I’ll be going again.

This is the Millais I mentioned, by the way; check out that dress, as the young people say;

millais the black brunswicker

 

Deep End, Skolimowski

I know I’ve written about this before, but the swimming pool looks like something out of 1930s Yerevan (I imagine): all greens, blues and oranges that match Jane Asher’s hair…

deep end

And some life drawings to be going on with…

richard1

 

 

richard3 richard4 richard5 richard6

 

Blackpaint

14.03.15