Posts Tagged ‘Kippenberger’

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

Blackpaint 105

April 6, 2010

A History of the World in 100 Objects

“Did” 30 of these yesterday, being marched round by my eldest son who duly photographed each one, allowing a minute or so for contemplation before continuing.  This was a minute more than many visitors, who contented themselves with the photo – in one case, a photograph of the label, rather than the object.

The most intriguing object for me was the 13,000 year old swimming reindeer (actually two reindeer, the male in pursuit) carved out of mammoth tusk and discovered in a French valley.  The experts have been unable to discover or surmise a use for it, which raises the possibility that it was carved simply for the pleasure, satisfaction, call it what you like, of “artistic” production.  Is this the earliest example of such a piece?  It may, of course, have had some ritual purpose, like animals in cave paintings or fertility objects; but unlike these, it seems to record an observed event. 

The Olduvai stone chopping tool makes you wonder how they knew it wasn’t just an ordinary rock – presumably it was part of a site.

German Expressionism and colour

I have some serious doubts about that stuff I was saying in Blackpaint 102, about “German” colours being dead, washed-out, livid.  I think it’s true, or at least arguable,  for Beckmann, Neue Sachlikheit people like Modersohn-Becker and Schmidt-Rotluff, and on up to Polke, Baselitz, Kiefer and Kippenberger.  But then there was Marc and Macke – OK, they were earlier but they were vibrant and limpid, like Dufy and the Fauves.  And Rouault and Soutine were as dark and/or livid as anyof the Germans I’ve mentioned.  and the Bauhaus people, like Schlemmer, they were bright too – so possibly, it’s all nonsense.  Probably more to do with movements than nationalities.

Beckmann’s “Night”

Surely that’s Lenin in the cap on the right??

Here’s an appropriate one of mine, in dark, dead colours:

Blackpaint

06.04.10

Blackpaint 102

April 2, 2010

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

I used to hate this artist’s work.  It was violent, crudely done in garish colours and too “Germanic” by miles.  Typical German stuff, I thought; women all portrayed as whores, murders (cf. Grosz and Kokoschka), cold, staring, cigarette-mouthing soldier waiting, while woman undressed for his attentions.. All impeccably Weimar and non-Nazi for sure – he was in the Nazi exhibition of degenerate art and was kicked out of the Prussian Academy of Arts – but still somehow brutish and sordid.

Then, I went to see the London exhibition at the Royal Academy – which I’m staggered to find was in 2003 (I thought it was maybe 3 years ago); I found that it was, yes, all the things I say above, but I loved it.  The colours are livid; he uses a sulphurous yellow, sickly oranges, pinks and especially lime greens.  His groups of secretly smiling, blank/black-eyed street women are like exotic, elongated insects, their fancy collars and hat plumes antennae; they are ogled by cigaretted men.  The pictures are strangely angled, as if reflected in a distorting mirror.

Those colours somehow seem to pervade German painting down to recent times, for me; Baselitz and Kippenberger, for instance.  Even – especially – when the colours are bright, they seem to have an inner darkness, or more a sort of deadness to them.  This sounds bad, but I like it; it’s not blinding Mediterranean, like those tiresome French and Spanish geniuses and not washed-out and understated, like our dour British masterpieces.

So, one thing you can be sure of when you visit Blackpaint’s blog – you will never be plagued by tired national stereotypes in the search for artistic truth.

Since I have given you two Kirchners , you have to have one of mine-

Blackpaint

02.04.10

PS – not sure if anyone is reading – please drop me a comment (good or bad) if you are.