Posts Tagged ‘Klimt’

Blackpaint 461- Pablo and Francis, Will and George and Gustav

September 7, 2014

Bacon and Picasso

It occurred to me while looking at Picasso in Tate Modern that the shapes of some of Bacon’s nudes are very much like those of Picasso – that is, you could paint out the flesh in the Bacons and substitute a matt cream, or light green or blue and you’d have a Picasso.. sort of…  Take a look below, to see what I mean:

bacon nude 1

picasso nude 1

 

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You could “Picasso” the Bacons and “Bacon” the Picassos, so to speak.  So what? you might ask – and you’d be right.  Incidentally, if you Google “Bacon Nudes”, the selection of pictures you get is much more varied and interesting than “Picasso Nudes”…

Bright Lights, Brilliant Minds (BBC4)

I watched the James Fox prog on Vienna last night (on Catch Up); he mentioned the high suicide rate amongst young Viennese intellectuals in the pre-WW1 years – the programme centred on the year 1908 – which reminded me of the recent RA exhibition “Making Faces”, on the same place and general period.  Neither the exhibition, as I recall it, nor Fox, offered any explanation of this phenomenon, however.

One picture that cropped up in the Fox programme was the stupendous Klimt below:

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Portrait of Fritza Riedler, Gustav Klimt

Will Self on Orwell

I have to say I think Self is right about Orwell’s rules on good writing; they are ridiculously restrictive and would exclude Joyce, Woolf and DH Lawrence for a start.  Probably Self too, but I haven’t read anything of his, apart from a couple of articles in the Observer; I can’t be bothered to be looking up every tenth word.  Is Orwell’s writing “mediocre”?  Surely not; he’s always a positive pleasure to read (except for the Goldstein document in Nineteen Eighty-Four and a couple of other stretches of politics, in “Homage to Catalonia” for instance) and even where there are weaknesses, they don’t strike you while you are reading.  For my money, “Burmese Days” and “Coming up for Air” are excellent,”A Clergyman’s Daughter” and “Aspidistra” are at least very good, with brilliant bits (the hop picking in “Daughter”, for instance).  “Animal Farm” is just about perfect as allegory, notwithstanding TS Eliot’s remarks about the pigs; and “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is a tightly written, thrilling and absorbing novel, quite apart from its importance as a critique of totalitarianism.  I’ve read it three or four times, like all of Orwell’s published novels and essays, and still found it gripping.  I can’t say that for any other writers, except Joyce.

I referred to “Homage to Catalonia” – there’s a point in that book where Orwell says he’s about to launch into a chapter on the details of Spanish politics and tells the reader that he can skip to the next chapter if he wishes, without loss of continuity.  I realised with amusement that I read a similar directive years ago – in “The Ka of Gifford Hillary”, a supernatural thriller set in WW2, by Dennis Wheatley.  Wheatley does a 40 -or -so page  detour into the world of British Intelligence, telling the reader, like Orwell, to skip.  I think their politics differed more than slightly, however.

Far From the Madding Crowd (John Schlesinger, 1967)

I watched this again, over a couple of late nights, and I have to say, like Ken Russell’s “Women in Love”, it’s just about perfect; the cast (Stamp, Bates, Christie, Finch), location, adaptation, music, that staggering Dick Turpin performance in the circus ring…

 

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Derby Ram

Blackpaint,

7.09.14 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 419 – Gouged Eyes, Smashed Noses, Livid Flesh (but no sex)

October 31, 2013

Art Under Attack – Tate Britain

A great exhibition.   It starts with the iconoclasm under Henry VIII and Edward VI; some very beautiful small statues, smashed noses, broken in half, eyes gouged out (to avoid the possibility of eye contact with the common people – a superstitious fear that a rapport might be established, based on the idea, perhaps, that the soul is visible through the eyes?); paintings scored and scratched.  Becket’s image scraped out of beautiful Books of Hours.

A statue of Charles I by Hubert LeSueur in black metal, with the crown hacked – not much damage though; must be tough metal.

There is a painting of the Pope being stoned with boulders by the four Evangelists, owned by Henry VIII; a fantastic large statue of the dead Christ, dug up after centuries of being buried.

Moving on historically, there is the destruction of Nelson’s Column in Dublin by the IRA in 1966 – pushing the definition of art, surely – and then the Sufragettes, who defaced sexy Pre-Raph paintings and slashed the Rokeby Venus; this I found interesting; didn’t know they concerned themselves with presentation of women as sex objects, as well as agitating for the vote.

Then, there is a section on auto-destructive art, Metzger on the South Bank, destroying paintings with acid to reveal St Paul’s across the river, and Ortiz destroying a piano – the remains are on the wall, looking a bit like a large Schwitters – Austrian Actionists in a group photo, looking like a bunch of manic perverts, appropriately perhaps.

Finally, there are modern artworks that have been attacked, like Allen Jones’ woman as an office chair, the face of which was defaced with acid. presumably by a feminist saboteur.  Andre’s bricks are there and some Goya(?) prints purchased and defaced by the Chapmans.

There is perhaps a disconnection between religious and political iconoclasm and the destruction of works by the artists themselves for aesthetic purposes; it doesn’t matter really. though – a great exhibition.

Dancer in the Dark

The Von Trier film, featuring Bjork.  Check the opening credit sequence – it’s Per Kirkeby, like drawings or prints of fossils in red and indigo inks.  Not keen on Bjork’s acting though.

Sebastian Faulks, A Possible Life

In the last blog, I mentioned the similarity between the drowning incident in the above book to that in Pete Seeger’s song “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” and to a Scott Fitzgerald story about WWI.  I’ve found the SF story; it’s called “I Didn’t Get Over”.  It’s not really the same; Scott Fitzgerald’s concerns a raft which capsizes and results in the drowning of more than twenty soldiers.  In Seeger’s song, the only casualty is the foolhardy officer.  The common denominator of the three is the foolishness and/or stubbornness of the officers involved.  There was a real incident, in the US in the 60’s I think; the Ribbon Creek incident, in which six marines drowned.

Facing the Modern; Portraits from Vienna, National Gallery

This is a fascinating exhibition; the pictures range from the most painstaking naturalism to quite extreme expressionist renditions.  Schiele and Klimt need no description, of course; Arnold Schoenberg has several of his portraits – the faces are similar, but there is something very attractive about the paintings, despite their gaucheness.  Another painter,  new to me, is Richard Gerstl – the Fay sisters, seated in their white dresses, terrifying; Gerstl’s brother, in an officer’s uniform, staring out from a Vuillard-like drawing room, the whole thing rendered in Seurat-ish blobs.

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Fay Sisters

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Gerstl’s Brother

Kokoschkas in livid greens and purples on ochre, twisted features (Kokoschka’s people never look at each other). ugly scratches on the background that add nothing; then, three fabulous dark portraits that recall Sickert, for me anyway.

There is a family group, viewed from a high angle, by Anton Kolig – rough, impressionistic, quickly executed and terrific.  It reminds me of the work of Michael Andrews; look at that little girl’s drawing arm.

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Kolig

And there are the Schieles; that livid flesh, composed of a brush marks in a variety of colours, prefiguring the flesh tones of Freud, Bacon, Jenny Saville….

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Schiele and Schoenberg

Another great exhibition.  A preoccupation with death, incidentally; a lot of death masks, deathbed portraits, memorial portraits – apparently there was a very high suicide rate amongst young Jewish men at that time.

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White Line Fever 1

Blackpaint

31.10.13

Blackpaint 190

September 9, 2010

Michelangelo’s Method

Should have checked out Wikipedia before I wrote yesterday’s blog; I was quite wrong, as usual.  He didn’t use cartoons and pricking – he did paint directly onto the wet plaster, with no previously prepared markers.  Sometimes he worked from a small drawing divided into a grid.  Incredible, isn’t it? 

Corneille

His obituary in the Guardian today.  When CoBrA exhibited in Amsterdam in 1948, there were fist fights at poetry readings during the exhibition.  That’s what art should provoke; punters should want to punch the artist for having the effrontery to show such offensive rubbish;  these days, the only reactions are from religious fanatics.. oh, and those who didn’t like the Myra Hindley hands portrait and those who thought photos of unclothed children encouraged paedophiles.. so, yes, people are still prepared  to be provoked – but by the content, rather than the style.

I would welcome a riot at my next private view; pity I can’t afford to pay people to be offended by my paintings.  I bet some artists have done that in the past…

Alphabetical Art Books

I love the way you sometimes get great juxtapositions in these books, purely by alphabetical arrangement.  I’m looking at the Phaidon Art Book now, and I have Leon Kossoff on one page with “Christchurch No.1”, and on the facing page, Peter Kroyer’s  “Summer Evening on the Southern Beach”.  The Kossoff, from 1991, is distorted, crudely painted in his usual dull and dirty palette – “a sort of churned-up, mud-like morass”.  It “deliberately avoids the picturesque”.  It positively seethes with movement.

The Kroyer, from nearly 100 years earlier, is a blue-grey beach stretching into a misty distance towards a headland, with two women in beautiful white dresses progressing slowly along the sea’s edge.  It exudes tranquility,  perhaps melancholy; it positively doesn’t seethe with movement.  What a fantastic contrast of scene, technique, purpose, mood, conception, just about everything – and that fortuitous 100 year gap.  Could make a good art history lesson…

A few pages earlier, Klimt’s “Kiss” faces off Kline and the Kline black square and bar echo the black rectangles in the cloak of Klimt’s man beautifully.  You could go on forever – Turner’s whirling sea “Snowstorm” against Twombly’s “Bolsena”, for example.  Maybe the editors pick the paintings to go with each other.  Anyway, trivial I know, but one can’t concentrate on important things ALL the time.

RIP Corneille – and Anton Geesink, the judo giant who was the first European to take a judo world championship title from the Japanese, in 1964.

Walcheren by Blackpaint

Blackpaint 127

May 4, 2010

Gastropub

Down to the pub at the bottom of the road, which we will call the Dick Turpin.  Many weeks ago, I left a number of my paintings there to be displayed in the restaurant area when it was up and running.  The decoration has been complete for several weeks, but there always seems to be a problem; the chef has let them down is the current one.  I have given up really, but since it is costing me nothing, I’m leaving the paintings there for the present, hoping against experience and reason that they will eventually go up and well-fed customers will buy them.

Bonnard

I’m looking at three postcards from the Paris Musee national d’art moderne, lined up on the mantelpiece.  They are, left to right, “Nu a la bagnoire”, “L’atelier au Mimosa” and “Nu de dos a la Toilette”.  They were done in 1931, 1946 and 1934 respectively, but I can detect no major difference in style.

The first thing is that from a distance of 10 feet or so, they look like abstracts – which doesn’t detract from their beauty at all.

Secondly, there is no depth in them.  Everything is upfront; the perspective is accurate but there is no sense of the background receding; the floor in “Nu..baignoire” is given the same value as the bath, the chair and the woman’s leg.  There are no shadows to emphasise perspective; the mimosa leaves in the second painting appear to be plastered directly onto the windowpanes.  The room appears to be shimmering, as if burning in yellow, orange and pink flames. 

Finally, there is an almost Klimt-like appearance to the patterning on the floors, chair back etc.

According to Brassai (Penguin book of Art writing, ed. Martin Gayford), he worked on several paintings at once, canvases pinned to wall, loading his brush and applying the colour to more than one canvas, wherever he thought it might fit.

Paul Nash

I was about to contrast the Bonnards with the washed-out Downlands and chilly blues and greens of Nash – then I had  a look at the latter’s work.  Yes, steely, chilly blue skies, but the browns and yellows of “Landscape of the Moon’s Last Phase” and “Michaelmas Landscape” are actually the same as “Mimosa” and “Nu..Toilette”.

Incidentally, I said in Blackpaint 114 that there were no good, cheap books on Bonnard.  I was wrong; there is a Thames and Hudson and another small book – but although the colours are good, the illustrations are only postcard size and too many are black and white.

Blackpaint

04.05.10

Blackpaint 70

February 16, 2010

Art in Fiction 2 (see also Blackpaint 65)

“Young Hearts Crying” by Richard Yates.  Set in New York, there are two great portraits of post-war American painters. The first is Paul Maitland, an effortlessly charming, bohemian Abstract Expressionist living in the Village.

 The second is Tom Nelson, who does ink drawings with watercolour washes on his kitchen floor – using saturated shelf-lining paper.  They take him between 20 minutes and “a couple hours, sometimes a whole day”.  Every few weeks, he carts the good ones uptown to the Museum of Modern Art, where they usually buy a couple for the permanent collection; sometimes, the Whitney takes some – the rest go to his gallery for his regular one-man exhibitions. 

The pair are seen through the eyes of the two protagonists, Michael Davenport and his wife Lucy.  The book is so good that I’ve started it again for the third time, as a result of checking the names for this blog.

Yates’ mother was a sculptor and he writes about art in, I think, “the Easter Parade”, and at least one of his collected short stories.

Art Biopics (see Blackpaint 64)

Since 1990, Wikipedia lists 11 biopics of artists, not including those I write about in 64.  They are:

Vincent and Theo, Carrington, Basquiat, “Surviving Picasso”, Modigliani, “Factory Girl” (Edie Sedgwick and Warhol), “Fur” (Diana Arbus), “Goya’s Ghosts”, Klimt, El Greco, “Dali and !”.  I’ve only seen “Factory Girl”, Sienna Miller (brilliant).

Listening to Too Many Drivers by Lowell Fulsom:

“Oh babe, something is wrong with your automobile, (*2)

You know you got a good little car, but there’s too many drivers at your wheel.”

Blackpaint

16.02.10