Posts Tagged ‘Kiefer’

Blackpaint 610 – French migrants, Polish exiles and the Hole in the Ceiling

November 20, 2017

The Impressionists in London (Tate Britain, until May 2018)

Strange exhibition, since a lot of these pictures – I’m not sure about the sculptures – don’t seem to be Impressionist at all.  The idea behind it is to showcase the French artists in exile in England after the fall of the Paris Commune and the massacres and oppression that followed it.  The booklet points out that there were no restrictions placed on these migrants and no quibbles over refugee or economic migrant status; apparently, there were no restrictions or limits on migration to Britain at the time – anyone could come.

There are a lot of pictures that are rather familiar from the Tate’s permanent collection; most of the Tissots and some Pissaros (Norwood, Sydenham) I’m sure have been moved downstairs.  The Tissots, for my money, are the most enjoyable but they are surely not “impressionist”, if that means passing effects of light and shade and all that; they look more like Millais, doing Singer Sargent subject matter.  The Whistler bridges and Monet’s series of Parliament in the last room, I think, are actually badly served by being all lumped together; great on their own, all together – too much.

Tissot

Also of interest, the Fantin-Latour double portrait; again, not impressionistic, more like Clausen or maybe Repin.  There is  social realist picture by an Italian (didn’t get the name) of loafers on a bridge under an orange sky – and the roomful of Derains at the end is great.

Fantin-Latour

Melancholia, a Sebald Variation (Inigo Rooms, Somerset House until 10th December)

The main piece in this exhibition is a 54 minute film by a Dutch artist, Guido Van der Werve.  It interweaves three elements: the first is the artist swimming, cycling and running the equivalent of three triathlons, being the distance between Chopin’s heart (in Poland) and the rest of him (in Paris).   he kicks off playing the piano in a Polish church, wearing a wet suit, while a choir sings a rather beautiful, melancholic piece.  Off he goes, into the river, and some rather beautiful but surely speeded-up film of him swimming.  He continues, at intervals, switching to bike and then running, leaving his wet suit and then bike with a waiting woman…

But I’m telling the story!  Enough.  The other elements are 1. Sites relating to Alexander the Great’s career, and 2. More musical interludes, in which orchestras are revealed playing in a house and by a canal.  Dada-ish things happen; a man walks past on fire and dives into the canal  and glass smashes, explosions happen…  It’s about exile (Chopin, Alexander) it seems; “a melancholy meditation on the theme of not being able to return home”, the booklet says.

The Dada stuff threw me for a while, since humour is not something I readily associate with WG Sebald.  And indeed, there is none elsewhere in the exhibition, which contains work by Durer (of course), George Shaw, Tess Jaray, Dexter Dalwood, Anselm Kiefer and others, as well as Sebald’s own darkened, enigmatic photograph collection.  The theme is melancholy and whether it is an “unproductive form of mourning” or a spur to creativity.

Kabakovs again (Tate Modern until 28th Jan 2018)

 

It occurs to me that there is a similarity between Sebald’s use of photographs etc. in his books and the Ilya Kabakov exhibit “Labyrinth (My Mother’s Album” in the current show at TM.  You walk through a series of dimly-lit rooms, with pages of a scrapbook pasted to the walls; blurry photos of pastoral scenes with memoirs of his mother in Russian and English.  At first, you try to read them but you soon give up – the light’s too dim.  It’s all about the nostalgia of the photos and the atmosphere.

Incidentally, the first time I visited this exhibition, I looked at “The Man who Flew into Space from his Apartment” and completely missed the catapult and the hole in the ceiling.  It was pretty crowded in there, but still…

 

Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi

I’ve more to say, but will save it for next time.  But I think that Leonardo is a Luini (as it was originally though to be).  It’s just not good enough for Leo.  Then again, great painters often do crap Christs; Veronese, for instance.  Maybe it’s some sort of cosmic dread, or maybe the Church stopped them being too human with Christ’s face.

Next time, Soviet posters, October (Eisenstein) and Walter Hopps.

Firestorm

Blackpaint

20/11/17

 

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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.

Michelangelo

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

22.12.10

Blackpaint 162

July 5, 2010

Laura Cumming on Banner

Laura Cumming (Observer, Sunday) says the Harrier is “a predator to the nearby prey of a Sepecat Jaguar lying beached and inverted on the floor.  Both planes are undeniably magnificent, powerful, menacing; and stalled.”  She’s wrong about the Harrier – it’s a caught fish, a skate-ray-shark type thing, hanging dead, waiting to be gutted.  The whole exhibit conveys impotence, not power or menace, although to be fair, she does end by saying the planes, exhibited as they are, “are reduced to – admittedly spectacular – curiosities.”

Dorothy Cross

Reading a catalogue the other day, I came across an artefact by this artist, entitled “Dishes”.  Made in 1992, it consisted of small enamel plates, a bowl and a cup, the last with a cow’s teat stretched over the top.  The catalogue stated that since 92, “she has employed udders on numerous occasions”.

This led me to consider the various odd materials that artists have employed and to want to make a list of them (I’m aware that list making is a classic obsessive activity and I’ve done a few already, so this will join the list of things which I won’t be doing in future in this blog).

Anyway-

  • Dead Animals.  Damien Hirst occurred to me first, but the shark and the sheep and the cow are themselves, albeit “mediated” by Hirst – he hasn’t made anything out of them.  if I included them, I’d have to include Fiona Banner’s planes and really, all other readymades.  I suppose the flies and the rotting meat are a composite, so they count, as do the butterflies. 
  • Blood.  Mark Quinn, Hermann Nitsch and the Vienna Actionists.
  • Sand, sacking and suchlike.  Burri, Tapies, Nicolson, Sandra Blow.
  • Piles of powdered pigment.  Kapoor.
  •  Rotting flowers, fruit and vegetables.  Anya Gallacio.
  • Palm trees, earth, straw.  Anselm Kiefer.
  • Oil.  That Richard Wilson installation that Saatchi exhibited.
  • Elephant dung.  Ofili, of course.
  • Faeces.  Terence  Koh, Piero Manzoni (allegedly – but who knows whether it was really in the tins?) and, no doubt, others.
  • Urine.  Helen Chadwick’s pissholes in the snow, or “Piss Flowers”.
  • all those bits and pieces used by “Art Informel” and Arte Povera artists, the collagists like Schwitters, etc.
  • Fat and felt.  No prizes.

In fact, I’m going to stop here, because the list becomes ridiculous, when you include sculpture and installation.

Necrotic Art

Photos of corpses by Sally Mann, photo of Damien posing with a head, dead mother  of Dorothy Todd  in the turtle burners’ Portrait Prize, plus the organic items listed above, lead me to wonder if body parts or even whole bodies might one day be exhibited as art, either as readymades or material.  After all, mummies, Lindow Man, dried-out corpses can all be seen in the British Museum and a host of other institutions – but they are “science”, medicine maybe, anthropology at least.  I suppose you could argue that Von Hagen is already doing it with his plastination roadshow, which undeniably has artistic as well as scientific aspects.  Plastination, however, prevents decomposition and sanitises (so I’ve heard).  I’m sure that considerations of decency and good taste would prevail……

Blackpaint

05.07.10 

Blackpaint 136

May 18, 2010

German Expressionists

I said some blogs ago (Blackpaint 105) that German colours had a sort of dead, livid quality; I applied this to pretty much all German artists from Expressionists to date.  Now, obviously this is a ridiculous generalisation and probably bordering on racial prejudice – nevertheless, I’m going to try to modify the view whilst hanging on to some sort of justification for it, simply because I don’t like admitting to being wrong.

I’ve been looking at a beautiful Taschen book on Expressionism by Dietmar Elger – it has a glowing still life in red, yellow, blue and black on the cover, by Jawlensky – and I’ve decided the “problem” for me is that the pictures are so crowded with colour.  Picture after picture is chock-full of brilliantly coloured images which fill the canvas completely, leaving no space at all.  The colours, to be sure, are sometimes livid and acidic; Schmitt-Rottluff and Max Pechstein in particular, turn is some very livid nudes in acid green-blue and greeny yellow.  But almost all the painters in this book crowd out any space with colour.  The exception is Egon Schiele, who eliminated background from his beautiful, diseased nudes altogether.

So, not dead colour –far from it – but too much of it.  That said, I think that in Beckman’s work, for example, that “deadness”, the washed-out quality, can be discerned and it is echoed in the photographic silver greys and dark browns used on and off by Kippenberger, Kiefer and Tuymans (not German, but still) and others.

Flak Tower by Blackpaint.

Listening to Newport News Blues by Will Shade.

“Now don’t you wish your easy roller was both little and cute like mine? (*2)

Every time she walks, you know she reels and rocks behind”.

Blackpaint

18.05.10