Posts Tagged ‘Lanyon’

Blackpaint 450 – Pantomime Horses, the Royal Messenger and the Cornish Caves

June 13, 2014

Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood and Alfred Wallis at Dulwich Picture Gallery  

This follows on nicely from the exhibition at Tate St.Ives; Winifred is the star for me, in this early period, which more or less finishes when Ben began to do his geometric abstracts.  His paintings feature some rather irritating pantomime horses, not quite with the knees pointing the wrong way, but nearly.  Also, he seems to have nicked some sailing ships from Alfred Wallis.  The style is termed faux-naive, and it strikes a false note with me. for sure.

Winifred’s still lifes of flowers strike me as bearing a slight resemblance to Paul Nash, not so much content as surface and hue.  There are also two portraits, one of a family looking out at the viewer and one of a father tending to a child.  In addition to Nash, there is a hint of Stanley Spencer and perhaps, in the baby, Wallis and Gromit.

.winifred-nicholson-father-and-son-19271

Anyway, there’s a fine triangular Wallis of ships passing before icebergs, and Ben Nicholson’s rather shabby first abstraction, which has a charm of its own.  Still the best Winifred I’ve seen, though, is the Window Sill at Lugano, which is at the Tate St.Ives show.  The colours remind me of the great de Kooning poster which is in the Member’s Room of the Tate Modern.  Can’t find the DK painting in any of my books; maybe its a detail.

winifred nicholson

Winifred Nicholson

Tate St. Ives

Some paintings and sculptures from the current show that I didn’t mention last week:

Riopelle, Perspectives

Little ingots of white and black paint massed together in his usual style against areas of deep, cold blue and dark red.

Perspectives-Jean-Paul-Riopelle-1956

 

Frink

A human torso, half legs and arms, spread out like an animal carcase.

Hepworth, Torso

Beautiful bust of a heavy- hipped woman.

hepworth torso

 

Lanyon, Turn Around

One of several intriguing box-type constructions.

Turn Around 1963-4 by Peter Lanyon 1918-1964

 

Niki de Saint Phalle, Dracula

Hard to describe, so here’s a picture –

niki_de_saint_phalle_dracula

National Gallery 

A couple more things to look out for in the newly opened basement gallery (wednesdays and Sundays):

The Battle of Valmy

That poor hussar lying dead on his back, with a cannonball hole in his breastplate – why has he got no boots on?

valmy

The Madonna and Child – I think it’s in the style of Duccio.

Dubufe – the Surprise

Wonder what it is?

dubufe-surprise-NG457-fm

 

DH Lawrence, the White Peacock

I was going on last week about how Lawrence larded every page of this, his first novel, with nature description.  On reflection, I think its more than just the urge to describe; I think nature is almost another “character” in the narrative – it is stitched in to frame and echo the unfolding of the story in a way that transcends simple scene-setting; but I’m often wrong.

Orwell, Animal Farm

There’s a lovely passage in Crick’s biography, worth quoting in full:

“When Queen Elizabeth, whose literary adviser was Osbert Sitwell, sent the Royal Messenger to Secker and Warburg for a copy in November, he found them utterly sold out and had to go with horse, carriage, top hat and all, to the anarchist Freedom Bookshop, in Red Lion Street, where George Woodcock gave him a copy”.

The Killer Inside Me

Michael Winterbottom film from a Jim Thompson novel, starring Casey Affleck as a psychopathic deputy sheriff in Texas 50s and Jessica Alba as his prostitute girlfriend, who he beats to death quite coldly as part of a double murder, when it suits him.  Later, he does the same thing to his fiancee.  A horrible film, with two repulsive sequences – possibly three – which I found very compelling too; had to watch it to the end.  Maybe there’s something wrong with me.  Affleck is brilliant; you want to beat him to death.

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Cornish Cave Painting 3

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What the Landscape Became

Blackpaint 13/06/14

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Blackpaint 449 – Glassy Seas at the National, Harbours and Wrecks at St.Ives

June 6, 2014

National Gallery – the Basement

There’s a “new” room downstairs in the NG, open to the public on Wednesdays and Sundays; not new at all, of course, but newly opened up.  You go through to room 15 where the Turners and Claudes are, and downstairs from there.

It’s like the “B” List; everywhere you look, you see something that looks like a copy of a famous painting elsewhere (sometimes upstairs).  My guess is that they are not copies – they’re not THAT similar – but maybe done from some sort of template that was going the rounds.

There’s so much down there that it will take a couple of blogs at least – but here are some highlights:

The Workshop of the Master of the Female Half – Lengths; St. John on Patmos.  Lovely little painting, I thought with shades of Giorgione.

master-female-half-lengths-saint-john-patmos-NG717-fm

A big, cartoon-y Signorelli, The Circumcision.  Who is the evil -looking character in the headcloth?  Dodgy eyes, if ever I saw them.  Unfortunately, can’t find a good repro on line, so you will have to visit to see what I mean.

Zanobi Strozzi’s Annunciation.  Like Lippi maybe, but with an astonishing  Expressionist floor.

strozzi-annunciation-NG1406-fm

Fra Angelico, St. Romulus – another vivid little beauty.

Then, there are the lookalikes:

Mano d’Oggiono, Virgin and Child – that fat baby leaning forwards, arms outstretched, reminded me of the Christ in the Virgin of the Rocks, the one with the unhealthy looking baby making the blessing gesture.

Gio. di Nicola, an Anthony Abbot, just like the frowning Masaccio? one upstairs.

A St Catharine with a face just like Leonardo’s St. Anne.

Venusti, a “follower of Michelangelo”; a small Holy Family with a dark green background that reminded me of that fabulous Raphael with John the Baptist and a pope…

Then, there is Clays, a Dutch painter who does glassy green, calm seas, in the way you look to Cuyp for cows.

clays-ships-lying-dordrecht-NG815-fm

Loads more; its a great visit.

Tate St.Ives -Modern Art and St.Ives, International Exchanges 1915 – 1965

First, there are a lot of “old friends” here, if you go to the London Tates much:

Franz Kline’s Meryon, the giant black bridgehead;

Gorky’s Waterfall;

Helion’s colourful little abstract;

Winifred Nicholson’s “yellow patch” abstract from Tate B;

Lanyon’s Thermal and Wreck;

Hockney’s Third Love Painting;

The big, blue Clyfford Still – you know the one;

The Rothko, that yellow-green “window” one;

Ben Nicholson, Gabo, Moholy- Nagy, Van Doesberg, Margaret Mellis, all have geometrical pieces; and there’s an El Lissitsky, which is interesting,  in that it is the only painting or construction of this lot that contains an illusory (desk-shaped) 3D image.  Some of the others have depth, but it is created by layering.

lissitsky

Here are a few of the other treasures on view – again, I’ll need another blog to do justice to the exhibition;

de Kooning, Zot – a mini “Excavation”.

DeKooning, Zot, 1949,339

Alan Davie, Bird Singing; little, dirty – fantastic.

(c) Alan Davie; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Roger Hilton, Grey day by the Sea.  So simple…couldn’t find a good one online.

William Scott, Harbour.

william scott st ives

Serge Poliakoff, Abstract Composition; Blue, brown, red, yellow.

poliakoff

 

And of course the Lanyon paintings…

Wreck 1963 by Peter Lanyon 1918-1964

Wreck, Peter Lanyon

Anyway, more on St.Ives and NG next blog.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Struck again by Orwell’s concept of Doublethink, the ability to believe two absolutely contradictory things simultaneously – it seems to me that this is extremely common, perhaps even universal.  I know that I’m capable of it, and even comfortable with it.  Good example in the paper today, Richard Dawkins talking about people who dismiss the idea of Father Christmas as nonsense, but profess a belief in a supernatural god figure…

 

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 Cornish Cave Paintings, Blackpaint

6th June 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 299

October 17, 2011

Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera

Made in 1929 in Odessa, it contains all the fetishes of modernism – machines, steam, trains, trams, open saloon cars, fire engines – and a sort of tour of daily life; sport and leisure (high jumpers, hurdlers, swimmers, organised exercise,vodka and beer bars, cinema, circus), work (happy workers on assembly lines, packaging cigarettes at high speed), birth and death (what must be the first live birth – you actually see the baby emerging from a shot directly pointed at the mother’s vagina and at the same level), accidents, street life….

But the machines – sliding metal, spraying oil, shafting, rolling, clanking (I assume; silent film) punching, squirting steam.

Placards and statues of Lenin and Marx pop up, but none of Stalin – 1929 too early.  One or two happy tramps and bench sleepers, but mostly well-fed, well-dressed, happy workers, full shops, teeming streets, smiles, laughter….   The technical tricks – slomo, speedup, Dutch leans, split-screen, tracking shots; Vertov’s group were anti – fiction in film, pro-documentary.  The credits announce a film without narrative, but of course, the modernist bent creates its own narrative within the big one of birth, life, death Soviet – style.

Greatest Artists Ever

So the Guardian announced last week, as the headline to a choice of, not artists but  pictures, selected  by various luminaries; Amanda Levete, an architect, chose a Zurbaran still life. showing lemons, a jug, and a cup and plate, looming out of the darkness.  A surprise to me, after his saints and cowled monks.

Charles Saumarez – Smith and Isaac Julien, while making radically different choices (CSS picked “paintings of the Italian Renaissance”, which is cheating, Julien picked Cindy Sherman), both cited transcendance of time and genre as their main criterion.

And Blackpaint’s choice, the reader asks?  Changes from week to week, of course, but I think de Kooning’s “Palisades” – or maybe Lanyon’s “Headwind”, that I’ve just come across…

Headwind, Peter Lanyon

Yes, I know, Lanyon v. de Kooning.. but it’s magnificent, isn’t it?

Cezanne again

“Cezanne’s aim in segregating the sexes in the Bathers series was to exclude any … element of the transient, sexual or erotic”, says Ulrike Becks-Malorney in the Taschen.  She writes that “his strong feeling of shame, his sexual inhibitions and fears, and his shyness about showing naked men and women together in what he regarded as trivial, sensual poses.”

This is puzzling to me, since in the previous sentence, she refers to the pictures of 1860’s and 70’s in which he “used the confrontation between the sexes in a provocative way.”  Presumably, she is referring to “the Orgy”, 1864 – 8 (or circa 1870, as Catherine Dean has it, in the Phaidon book on Cezanne), “the Temptation of St. Anthony”, 1870 and “A Modern Olympia” 1873 – 75.  Check them out; hard to reconcile with sense of shame or sexual inhibition.

Also, there is this odd sentence, referring to a figure with arms behind his head in a male Bathers of 1900: “It is a gesture of opening oneself up and offering oneself – in this particular case, it is presenting an erection to the seated figure in the bottom left-hand corner”.  And, yes, she’s right, for sure.  what a strange old bugger Cezanne must have been.

Painters who took ages, and did drafts, even though it looks as if they knocked their pictures out in minutes…

Franz Kline.  This sounds critical, but I don’t mean it to be – I find some of his work staggering.  Just found some of his coloured ones, with the reds and greens – fantastic.  Google him and see.

Next time, Richter and Tacita Dean at Tate Modern.

Blackpaint

17.10.11

Blackpaint 258

March 9, 2011

Cumming on Spero

Laura Cumming on Nancy Spero at the Serpentine in Sunday’s Observer says the following: ” She did not paint with oil on canvas – the canonical male medium – and she did not sculpt.”  Instead, Spero used paper as a feminist statement.  I assume that the words “the canonical male medium” are Cummings’, since they are not in parenthesis in the paper.  It’s nonsense, isn’t it?  All of the women artists that I can think of paint with oils on canvas at least sometimes.  Ayres, Mitchell, Clough, Blow,  Frankenthaler, Krasner, Dumas, and on and on…..  Canvas is not “gendered”, as far as I can see, and neither are oils.  It’s OK – desirable, really – for Spero to have been a bit mad; she was an artist, after all.  Critics surely should maintain a – critical stance.

Having said that, the exhibition sounds worth a visit – “Men and women wheel through the air, impaled on helicopter blades.  Scorched bodies, the colour of burnt bacon…” – sounds like” Salo” without the shit eating.

Greer on art in the Guardian

Interesting article by Germaine Greer on above, in which she concludes that graffiti artists are true artists.  The sentence that caught my eye was this one: “(the graffiti artists) are working within a demanding tradition that requires the sequence of execution to have been worked out in detail in advance, before any mark can be made.”  This may well be so; it reminds me of Richard Dorment on Van Gogh, how (according to Dorment) VG worked out every colour and mark before starting a painting.  What a dispiriting thought!  No improvisation, no accidents, no going with the development, no errors and corrections, no intuition, no flying by the seat of the pants – sorry, cliche – what IS flying by the seat of the pants, anyway?  Sketches are usually better than worked-up paintings, anyway; more life, more fun.

Van Gogh

Probably mentioned this already, but I was struck by the description of his shading marks in drawings as being like iron filings arranging themselves around a magnet.  Read it in the Taschen double volume, but can’t  remember the source; good though.

Turner

A while back, I mentioned how there’s an obvious figure in Lanyon’s “Lost Mine” (in the Tate Britain), but I couldn’t see it for years until someone pointed it out.  Same with Turner’s “Sea Monsters” – I’d always seen it as one big fish face, staring out at the viewer; now, after reading the Taschen (I know, still no shares),. I can’t see it as anything but two fishes side on, sort of jumping at each other.

Entrance fees for London galleries and museums

Tristram Hunt’s bad idea.  Someone said to me its mostly foreign tourists who go – they expect to pay and can afford it.  Even if this were so, it seems to me to be something of a cheek to charge them on this basis; if they’re Greek, Iraqi, Iranian, Egyptian, Turkish, Afghan, Indian etc., they would be paying to see treasures that our forefathers disassembled and shipped home in dodgy circumstances.  We nicked most of it, didn’t we, one way or another.

Blackpaint

Shrove Tuesday

 

 

 

Blackpaint 252

February 17, 2011

Vincent’s Sunflowers

As I said a blog or two ago, I could never warm to the famous Sunflowers; now, “research shows” (Guardian, Tuesday) that sunlight turns 19th century yellow chrome paint brown – but “only if the yellow paint had been mixed with white pigments based on sulphates.”

This maybe explains the difference between these sunflowers and the blazing, yellow/orange entities that Van Gogh painted in Aug – Sept 1887.  Something I didn’t know about Van Gogh was how much he was influenced by Japanese art and culture – witness the 15 or so paintings of orchards and trees in blossom he knocked out in Arles in April 1888.

As for industry – the Taschen book shows 25 pictures for July 1890; not bad going, considering he shot himself on the 27th.

Turner

I was interested to discover that Turner used scraping away as a Technique in some paintings, notably the bottom left foreground in “Rocky Bay with Figures”, c.1830 and the crown of “Death on a Pale Horse”, c. 1825 – 30 (see William Gaunt’s Phaidon book).  This struck me as pretty advanced for the time, but my knowledgeable partner sniffed at my ignorance and said it was common.

I’m not convinced – Turner seems so way ahead of everyone else.  “Ship on Fire” and “Boats at Sea”, for example; the latter defines minimalism.  I suppose they are every bit as “abstracted” as that Melville I go on about –  and done decades earlier.

Watercolour Exhibition at Tate Britain

Which brings me to this show, which opened to the public yesterday, and which I attended with two companions and several hundred  grey retirees, mostly teachers, I would guess.  Within minutes, my friend had pronounced “Wrotham” incorrectly when reading a label – he was promptly and tartly corrected by the woman next to him; “It’s pronounced ROOT-HAM, actually. ”  She moved on with a tight little smile, leaving us suitably corrected and chastened.

Anyway – loads of brownish landscapes, as you would expect – I liked the Indian powder works on the riverbank – jewel-like miniatures, beautiful botanical drawings in eye-destroying detail, bright little Books of Hours.

Best thing is if I just list my highlights:

John Piper, Nantfranccon (I think); Layered rock strata, like piled bodies.

Edward Burra, a valley in Northumberland with a great, green, lowering hill overlooking it.

Ravilious’ lovely White Horse, with the slanting lines (rain?).

Girton’s Bamburgh Castle, one of David Dimbleby’s choices in his series on British art and landscape.  Stunning picture – doesn’t look much like Bamburgh Castle now, though.

Blake, Jane Shore doing penance – proof that Blake could do really ordinary, boring pictures too.

Samuel Palmer, “Dream in the Appenines”; hints of Raspberry Ripple in the sunset; Benjamin West, American Sublime and all that – bloody awful painting.

Arthur Melville, “Blue Night, Venice” – and what a blue it is; little bit green, but translucent, against the tower.  Comes close to Turner’s Venice sketches.  Why is he not better known?

Turner – the two already mentioned above, and several small sundown sketches, including “The Scarlet Sunset”, with the yellow wiggle on the water surface; it’s only the size of a postcard!

There’s a war room:

William Simpson – a butterfly rests on a cannonball, a lizard scuttles past, or maybe holds a frozen pose for an hour or two, in the aftermath of battle.  It’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” – but from an earlier war.

Mutilated faces from WWI and a French hussar dying, with his intestines exposed by a sabre cut at Waterloo.

A really strange Burra – “Soldiers at Rye” – in which the soldiers, with their bulging muscles, theatrical stances and inexplicable pointy-nosed masks, look like a troupe of travelling players from the 17th century.

The lovely little Samuel Palmer with the horizontal crescent moon, to offset the Appenine monstrosity; maybe he needed the small format…

Two David Jones, white and grey, that from a distance, bear a faint resemblance to Dubuffet’s scraped – away pictures.

Lucia Nogueira, her blots and stains with intermingling colours, so simple but memorable.

The Patrick Heron, of course; not as intense as the oils, though.

Roger Hilton – two of the child-like pictures, done in posters I think, from his bed-ridden period.  One with the dog, strangely affecting.

Peter Lanyon, fabulous of course, like a skate egg case on its side, and colours like Alfred Wallis.

Left the best to last – huge, on the end wall, is Sandra Blow’s “Vivace” with it’s glorious, vulvic sweeps of red acrylic, chucked from a bucket onto an off-white canvas.  Just what this constipated exhibition of little, detailed exquisiteness needs.  For some reason, Adrian Searle chose to be dismissive of this celebratory work in his Guardian review; he called it “silly”.  Wrong!  Blow’s painting is like a pint of cold Guinness with a creamy, perfect head, looking up at you from a bar counter – after a long drought, passed in the company of prissy relatives.

One last thing; £14.00, or £12.00 for concessions, is a lot for an exhibition put together substantially from Tate’s own resources.  A tenner, maybe….

This Flight Tonight (to Joni Mitchell)

Blackpaint

17.02.11

Blackpaint 235

December 26, 2010

Banksy

Watched the Banksy-related DVD “Exit Through the Gift Shop” yesterday and was taken in for the first 40 minutes or so; then Thierry put the camera down and became Mr. Brainwash and the film suddenly looked too much like Spinal Tap to be true.  We were interested enough to check on Wikipedia though and it says there was a show by Brainwash in LA which attracted thousands – so concluded that it was cooked up by Banksy and the American with “Thierry” as the front-man.  But then it’s Wikipedia, so could be a false entry….

Banksy’s stuff is good; accessible, funny, provocative, daring and well-executed.  If he makes a few bob out of his art and stunts, good luck to him.  I think you only sell out when you join the other side and/or start criticising others who come after you – other than saying, “I did that first,” which is fair enough (assuming you did, of course).  It’s not his fault that he became the next big thing for a while.

Van Gogh

Have got a copy of VG’s selected letters, so will be able to check on comments made by Richard Dorment in the Telegraph about the letters and paintings exhibition at the RA early in the year (see Blackpaint 230, 13th December 2010).  Only just started, and already I notice a sort of prissy, bossy tone in the letters to Theo – a great long list of mostly obscure painters he (Theo) should look at.  Funny really, considering Theo ended up supporting him throughout his short life.

Paul Morley also does this – makes lists of artists, not supports Van Gogh financially –  in his Observer music column every week; personally, I don’t think this is good journalism.  I am sometimes tempted to make lists of painters I admire – de Stael, Jorn, Appel, de Kooning, Lanyon, Sandra Blow, Joan Mitchell, Diebenkorn, Heron, Hoffman, Rauschenburg, Auerbach, Kitaj, Giotto, Fra Angelico, Michelangelo – but I manage to avoid it.

Blackpaint

26.12.10

Blackpaint 211

October 25, 2010

Colour

My birthday the other day, and I got three cards of different painters: Albert Irvin, Vincent van Gogh and Alfred Wallis.  with them lined up on the mantelpiece, it struck me that Irvin’s and van Gogh’s colours were so different that it was almost as if you needed a different word to describe them – VG’s muted, rich, glowing, nuanced; Irvin’s brash, bright, glaring (fluorescent even), with no blending or sculpting, hardly any texturing.  But it’s more than this – they just seem to be from two different worlds altogether, can’t explain more clearly.  Irvin seems to go with Warhol and maybe Albert Oehlen, no-one else I can think of.

As for Wallis, his palette in this picture, white, Prussian Blue, yellow ochre is really characteristic of St.Ives.

This stuff is all because I’ve been bought a load of different oils and am trying to work out what pictures I can paint with them – the “old” ones have the wrong forms, textures etc.

Michelangelo and Raphael

Pretty much sticking by what I said in last blog, but there are some Raphael compositions that you couldn’t really call “static”:  Galatea, the various St. George’s and St.Michael’s, Road to Calvary (the so-called “spasimo” – though even this is restrained, compared to Mick).

One thing – “Dream of Jacob of the ladder to heaven”; it’s on the wall of the Palazzi Pontifici in the Vatican.  It’s sooty and badly drawn and looks as much like a Raphael as an Albert Irvin.  It’s not in the Wikipedia list of his works, for some reason.  I think a workman knocked it out during Raphael’s lunch hour.

Reading Diebenkorn book by Jane Livingstone, and again reminded of Lanyon in his attitude to figurative v. abstract, and to landscape.

Back properly soon.

Nameless as yet, Blackpaint

25.10.10

Blackpaint 204

October 10, 2010

Open House

Finished now.  Didn’t sell many, but enough to fool me into thinking it’s worth continuing for a few more months.  Lots of people remarked on how many paintings there were (see Blackpaint 202).  Always a surprise to see which ones sell, or are admired – invariably old ones.  One I was about to paint over was praised by several people, to my complete incomprehension.  Nice but disquieting – stuff I’m doing now is totally different, but you can’t go back.

Ai Weiwei

Great to see him getting so much coverage in the papers; that must be embarrassing for the Chinese government, along with the Nobel Peace Prize going to Liu Xiaobo.

Jiro Yoshihara

Grey paint appearing as thick as putty, with a black slash slicing diagonally upwards at a shallow angle from low left to middle right.  Above it on left, a black patch from which the paint dribbles down like thin black blood, and  between the two blacks, a scrawled and scrubbed black and white cloud, extending to the right edge and top right corner of the canvas.  This is “Painting” (wonder what he called all the others). 

Doesn’t sound like much, but it’s an arresting image that shows how much can be got into a limited palette.  There’s an inverted “V” sign in white that has been painted over the stern of the black diagonal by a drying brush being dragged lightly over the surface of the canvas.  I thought of Lanyon when I saw it; the texture reminds me of brushmarks on “Wreck” in the Tate Modern.  I said “stern” because now I can’t help but see the black stroke as a rowing boat.  The black patch above the stern is now a jellyfish,  its tendrils suspended vertically in the grey “ocean”.

All this, despite having spent two weekends maintaining to visitors that my paintings are non-figurative and not intended to look like anything in the “Real” world and that to see them as pregnant women or jungle landscapes or whatever was erroneous, etc., etc….  Can be entertaining though – I have one that I think looks like a hooded judge in a white gown, or a Klansman sitting in judgement;  one visitor said it was a still life, another saw a big 50’s style fridge.

Anyway, Yoshihara a founder of the Gutai group (1954) that apparently influenced Pollock.  I’m going to look up more of his stuff.

Painters whose works have a spurious, superficial mutual resemblance, No. 10

Wols and Georges Mathieu.  The latter, of course, used to do those spontaneous performance paintings.  They both like spiky, insect-like tangles or knots in black or white, streaking out from a  central point like track of atoms in a ..what are they called, those machines that smash atoms and record the track of the fragments?  Add to that brilliant colours, splotched and scratched and muddied (more so in  Wols’ case) and you have the resemblance.  I like Wols best.

This is the one I was going to paint over.

Blackpaint

10.10.10

Blackpaint 198

September 24, 2010

Giotto

I’m looking at the Anne Mueller von der Haegen book on G. in the “Masters of Italian Art” series – those reds and blues are just beautiful.  The blue has a touch of green showing through and the reds are actually more dark orange, shading down to raw sienna almost.  The Last Judgement fresco in the Cappella degli Scrovegni in Padua strikes me as the best today – tomorrow it’ll be a different one.  On the right,  a fat blue devil stuffs the damned into his mouth as they cascade down to him as if washed there by rivers of blood and fire.  Here and there, men and women dangle naked from gallows in various recesses of hell, two upside-down and facing each other, as if having a conversation.  Another is horizontal on a turning spit.

Opposite, beneath an assembly of saints and martyrs, little, squat, bewildered people are rising naked from the ground or their tombs, as if from trunks.  they turn reverently, arms raised in supplication.

way up, on either side of the window, armoured angels clutch the edges of a red scroll, very much like giant sticks of rock.  Staggering, beautiful, weird; I will certainly be returning to these pictures again and again.

Chaldon

By way of contrast, I visited the church at Chaldon (1086), near Coulsdon in Surrey, to see that mural again (see Blackpaint 44).  Dark red/purple background, white figures that I suppose may once have been painted, and those strange, huge, big -eyed, three – toed demons that Eric Von Daniken would certainly have selected for his “Was God a Spaceman?” books, back in the 70’s, 80’s or whenever it was.

Tate Britain rehangs

That fantastic St. Ives room at the above – with the red and black Hilton, the black and white sand Blow, the Lanyons – green and blue water pulsing through them – the black Scott and the penis salt pots, the exploding black octopus Alan Davies, the lime green yellow Heron with the ingots showing through – all great, but they’ve been there over a year (except for the Bryan Wynter that was changed so that “Riverbed” could go to St.Ives). 

Why don’t they change a couple of the paintings every 2 or 3 weeks?  They must have several by each artist, maybe dozens.  Surely it can’t be too much work to change a few paintings regularly – where do they keep them; down below in the cellar?  Come on, more paintings by the same people, give the collections a proper workout and let the people see them.  Same goes for Tate Modern, and for all I know, for National Gallery too.  If there are problems with this, I would love to hear them.

Well done by the way; great paintings, free of charge – but let’s see more!

Basquiat (see Blackpaint 46 and 70)

I think Robert Hughes really screwed up badly by misjudging this artist as a lightweight, who only made it because he was black and in the right place, etc.  Lovely sense of colour and design, great drama, the words, the structures and textures; they are colour bombs, remind me of Miro Spain posters and Appel, a bit.  Not as “good” (rich, complex, sustaining) as either, but way up there nevertheless.

Hereward again – Blackpaint

24.09.10

Blackpaint 189

September 8, 2010

Michelangelo

Vasari points out that the figure of Jonah on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is actually leaning backwards, against the direction of the vault on which it is painted, giving the trompe l’oeil effect by means of foreshortening.  Amazing, when you consider the difficulty of painting quickly, onto wet plaster, big drop below from the rickety scaffolding, looking upwards, one hand stretched and working above his head, paint dripping back into his face and eyes.  This is how he sketched himself at work, not lying on his back as in the film.  How could he have done it, without checking it from a distance to make sure the proportions were right?  (imagine, do a leg, down the ladders to check, shit, too short – up again to change it quick before it dries – shit, too late). 

Presumably, he’d sketched it out on paper or linen (?) and pricked it, held against the curve of the vault – couldn’t have done it without pre-prepared sketches, surely.

The St.Ives Artists by Michael Bird, Lund Humphries 2008

Didn’t credit this great book properly the other day, when I repeated the Terry Frost pissing story (Barbara Hepworth rang a little bell when she wanted her labourers to make themselves scarce).  It’s full of other stories about this remarkable wild bunch – Lanyon punching other artists out, trying – allegedly –  to run down Sven Berlin in his car – but is also great on the movement, if it could be so called, in general and its links to the US Ab Exes and European Abstractionists and Tachistes.  My advice is to buy it immediately.  No, I am not Michael Bird, nor do I know him.

Fiona Rae and Ernst Wilhelm Nay 

Latest in “slightly like” series: actually, think I’ve compared FR to someone else before – anyway, check out her “Untitled (yellow with circles I)”; very like many Nays, in her use of sweeps and circles.  Hers look like 45 rpm singles, his are usually painted discs.  Superficial, and hardly worth a mention – but take a look at both on Google, if only to see how wrong I am; that will be worth it.

Black Prints by Blackpaint

Listening to The Welfare Line, by the Highwaymen;

“So pass around the bottle, boys, let’s talk about old times,

Night’s closing in, it’s cold as sin,

Here on the welfare line”.