Posts Tagged ‘Last Year in Marienbad’

Blackpaint 392 – Penis Gourds, Baobabs, and Marienbad

May 2, 2013

Alasdair Gray’s “Lanark”

In Blackpaint 386, I mentioned the similarities between Gray’s painter Thaw and Gulley Jimson in Joyce Cary’s “the Horse’s Mouth”, feeling smug to have noticed.  I’ve just got to the bit in the book where Lanark is conversing with God and Gray has a series of sidebars in which he points out all the instances of plagiarism in his own book.  Sure enough, Cary is one – but it sort of takes the shine off it for me; I thought I was being clever.  Lesson there – finish the book before commenting.

Last Year in Marienbad

I think I’ve got a handle on this, after watching it through again; there are alternative endings presented in the film.  In the first, the Woman is shot by her husband; the man is therefore pursuing a ghost throughout – or maybe it’s his memories; in the second, she finally decides to leave with the Man.  That’s my theory anyway.  Jump cutting still funny, and I checked – the people in the gardens do have shadows, whilst the shrubs do not.

Running the films on 4*

I’ve been watching DVDs speeded up, and with some of them, it doesn’t distract from your understanding much (if you’ve watched them before, of course).  Some of them seem to be improved as silent films, depending on the strength of the images.  So far, I’ve watched Holy Motors, The Tin Drum and the Werckmeister Harmonies like this.  Film directors would hate my methods of watching – 30 minutes, then take a break, maybe finish watching tomorrow, or do another 30; it makes some directors a lot more bearable.  Must try Tarkovsky; Solaris, say.  The big drawback of watching it on 4* is you don’t get the score, of course (obviously).

Saatchi Gallery – New British Artists

Only really two that struck me.  The first was Sara Brewer, who makes spindly metal structures like window frames or supports, that are slightly out of kilter and have traces of paint marks on them at random points, it appears; the second was Nicolas Deshayes, who had two panels painted a smooth and uniform blue, with smaller panels of white “blown”plastic set on, or in them, bulging slightly out from the blue plane.  Reminded me of the sort of thing that Billy Al Bengston and Craig Kaufman of the Ferus Gallery “Cool School” were doing in the 60s and which I’m reading about in the excellent Pacific Standard Time book (also see the film The Cool School, narrated by Jeff Bridges).  Deshayes also shows some large slices of white polystyrene, with curved grooves carved into them, like pieces of salt lake surface, scarred with ski marks and chopped out in great, flat chunks.

Sebastiao Salgado at the Natural History Museum

A huge exhibition, loads of big black and white photographs – the Southern Seas and islands, Africa, Amazonia, Alaska, Russia and Canada, the USA.

It reminded me strongly of Ansel Adams – I wonder if Salgado manipulates his pictures in development like Adams did?  Maybe with advances in technology, he doesn’t need to.  The pictures have that “closeness” that I first noticed in Balterman’s wartime pictures of German atrocities in the USSR  – also in McCullin’s shots of the coalfields (the woman with the pram.  I think it’s to do with the focus being sustained throughout the depth of field.  There’s a picture taken across a valley and bay with mountains  on the other side – they must be a few miles away, but they are as sharp as the range on the photographer’s side; everything seems to be upfront.

There’s a sort of National Geographic, timeless quality to the photos of indigenous peoples – “The last two girls in the world to wear lip plates” (Ethiopia), the New Guinea tribesmen with their penis gourds, the Amazonian tribal girls, beautiful and naked – apart from the bone “beard” they have pierced through the chin.

Wondrous photos, many taken from a helicopter, surely; but that marine iguana’s foot, the baobab trees, swollen tubers on their raised, circular island…

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Blackpaint – Window on the World

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Life Drawing

Blackpaint

2.05.13

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Blackpaint 283

July 3, 2011

Last Year in Marienbad

Watching this, I have discovered, like thousands before me, no doubt,  the source of many parodies – especially that one where actors speak a pretentious sentence whilst gazing out at the audience and mid-sentence, the scene changes and they’re in different clothes or a different place.  This is not to denigrate the film – it’s beautiful (and so is Delphine Seyrig) and anyway, I love pretentious films; cliches and parodies are so often born from great art, n’est-ce pas?  Loved the Max Ernst feather dress, too.

It strikes me that L’Age d’Or could have been done as an “anti – Marienbad” – if it wasn’t 30 years older.  the couple in Marienbad are sort of polar opposites to the couple in the Bunuel film – stylistically anyway.. but now I’m starting to see parallels, so will stop with that…

Laura Cumming on Magritte

Last Sunday, reviewing the Magritte show at the Tate Liverpool, LC wrote in the Observer that Magritte’s work was “a sustained exploration of painting itself, how it works, what it can ever show or truly say”.  I think this is an astonishing claim for a painter who, most critics seem to agree, was no great shakes as a user of paint, but was a competent illustrator – a man who was a good commercial artist.  Surely, it’s the power of his images that makes him interesting, as well as the champion poster – shifter, apparently (or maybe it’s the most book covers).  His painting is as good as it needs to be to get the idea across – he’s a conceptual artist, who doesn’t really explore painting at all.

Cartoon Museum – Steve Bell  

This is in a little street opposite the front entrance of the British Museum and contains a great exhibition of Bell’s work.  I was surprised at how well some of his characters stand up after a few years (Bell turns his politicians into characters, for example the Iron Lady and Major with the underpants, Blair with the mad eye, Cameron with the condom head); I remember them seeming a bit crude and even silly to me, when he first did them.  Now, they strike me as epic.  Then, there are the variations on famous paintings; my favourites are Major’s underpants burning on the Thames (after Turner), Blair about to be inundated by an overcurling tidal wave of shit in the form of Gordon Brown (after Hokusai) and Brown as a boxer, flat on the mat, punching himself in the face (I think that was a Bell original).

There is also the French artist, the penguin, the monkey, the sheep, the chief inspector….

There’s a fascinating video of Bell going about his work at party conferences and doing his own commentary.  As you would expect, he finds a physical peculiarity and develops it – Cameron’s smooth cheeks and a certain wateriness of the eyes that suggest a fishiness to him; Osborne’s slightly bulging neck and, especially, the bum nose-end.  Go and see it, after the Australian prints and drawings in the BM.

Whitechapel Gallery 

Here, for free, is an exhibition of some of the art works that have been chosen by various politicians and diplomats to decorate their offices and reception rooms.  The one I particularly liked was a photograph by David Dawson of Lucian Freud, painting the queen.  She’s sitting there, in a plain plastered room (presumably in Buck House?? – no; St.James’ Palace ) with a crack running across one wall, in a very ordinary-looking coat – with her crown on.  More of this exhibition tomorrow, along with Vorticists, Twombly and others.

Blackpaint

02.07.11