Posts Tagged ‘Lee Krasner’

Blackpaint 316 – Rudders and Shark’s Fins at the Serpentine

December 31, 2011

Helen Frankenthaler

The news of the death of the great Helen Frankenthaler – great painter, beautiful woman ( judging by the Guardian photograph) made me realise how easy it is to overlook people if they haven’t had a retrospective or show recently.  I think I’ve only seen two or three of her works together as part of a package at the Guggenheim, Bilbao maybe 7 or 8 years ago.  Then, a few paintings in Ab-Ex books and art histories (Autumn Farm, Spring Blizzard, the much later and fantastic Lavender Mirror) but no easy- to- find book to herself.  But she was a pioneer; the pouring of thinned paint onto unprimed canvas, leaving tracts unstained, was her “invention”, later adopted by Morris Louis, notably.

Joan Mitchell has had a bit of well-deserved attention lately, with a lovely book and a small exhibition in Edinburgh; now we should see the same for Frankenthaler… and Krasner, Hartigan, Jay DeFeo….

Lygia Pape

“Magnetized Space” at the Serpentine Gallery, free. lovely exhibition.  She was a Brazilian artist who died, aged 77, in 2003 – a Neo-Concretist (no, I didn’t know either).  The Neo – Concretist movement was “dedicated to the inclusion of art into everyday life”, so the booklet says.  Anyway, there are several videos on show that we didn’t have time to watch, beautiful, careful drawings of close parallel lines on white paper, with sections tilted to look as if collaged on – very similar to Rachel Whiteread’s stuff at Tate Britain, I thought – but the most beautiful woodcuts on paper; minimalist, geometrical shapes cleanly cut against each other, both black and white and in three or four colours.  There are three in particular, in which the grain of the wood has been imprinted onto Japanese paper.  One resembles the rudder of a boat, another a shark’s fin, the third an abstract swirling pattern.  They are great, don’t miss them.

The Roberts

Colquhoun and MacBryde, about whom Roger Bristow has written a book entitled “The Last Bohemians” (2010).  I knew of them vaguely from the writings of Julian Maclaren-Ross and Daniel Farson but I’d only scene one picture by Colquhoun, the one that Grayson Perry included in his Hastings exhibition a while back.  the first illustration on the book is “Bitch and Pup”, which Colquhoun did in 1958; it’s very striking and no doubt I’ll be returning to them, as I read more.

The Artist

I’ll have to see it, the critics having unanimously praised it – but it all sounds a bit “Cinema Paradiso” to me.  That’s enough, signing off to get drunk (er).  Happy New Year, to those of you for whom it is.

Blackpaint

31.12.11

Blackpaint 279

June 11, 2011

Franz Kline

Time, surely, for a Taschen book on Kline; I’ve just come across a painting by him called “Gay Street Rooftops” dated 1941.  Good, but pretty conventional cityscape stuff.  I’d like to know how he got from that to those black and white structures (Chinese letters, some compare them to) for which he is known.

Riopolle

“Vol de Chute” from 1961, a fantastic, Appel-like painting, lozenge shapes of colour with that spidery black scoring outlining them in bands, like barbed wire; blue, yellow, orange, white, green , grey…  it’s all there.

Pollock

“Grey Center”, (I know, but it’s an American picture) 1946, one of the Accabonac Creek series; lots of leggy, angular shapes – maybe more like  knees and elbows, I thought at first by Lee Krasner, rather than Pollock;  it’s in white, grey, pink and ochre – de Kooning colours.  Still appears to have vestiges of the figures he used to put at either side of his paintings; “Pasiphae”, for instance (name of the painting was supplied by his dealer, Pollock not being familiar with Ovid at the time).

Fra Angelico

A while back, writing about violence in paintings, I mentioned Caravaggio’s Abraham and  Isaac, saying that C ‘s painting showed a brutal realism. It is exemplified  in the way Abraham grasps the boy’s face and throat in preparation for the killing stroke with the knife.  Of all artists, Fra Angelico matches this in his “Massacre of the Innocents” (San Marco, Florence).  The soldier on the far right grasps a woman’s throat while thiusting the dagger into her baby’s throat; she is holding the blade, trying to push it away.  Expressions of grief and horror, and violence all around.

This contrasts strongly with Piero della Francesca, who was being discussed, I think by Tim Marlow on TV the other night.  The painting in question was a battle scene but it appeared to me to be absolutely static – something in the way Piero paints seems to drain all movement from his paintings.  And the faces appear expressionless; they don’t engage with the other figures, but usually stare out from the canvas.  I think they look like figures in surrealist paintings, say Delvaux or de Chirico.

Le Quattro Volte

Film by Michelangelo Frammartino.  A sort of seasonal portrait of an Italian mountain village, almost silent – the camera views from a distance much of the time.  It has the Brughel snow scene (cf. Tarkovsky’s “Mirror”); close-ups of wood surfaces, like a tree trunk with lichen and scrambling ants, drifting smoke, a spectacular sky – and lots of goats – those amazing rectangular retinal slots in their eyes.  It seems as if nothing much happens, but it does: a goatherd looks after his flock, coughs, and dies eventually-  we accompany him into the catacomb and hear the door shut on us.  There is a crucifixion festival, a tree felling and climbing festival, and eventually – second time I’ve said that, must say something about the film – we find out what they’re making and why all the smoke.

It skirts sentimentality – the little lost goat, the doughty dog, life and death, life goes on, the men  shake hands with each other  before doing business….  I suppose all films are romantic in one sense, though, as soon as you frame a scene and a narrative emerges.  What about Chien Andalou and l’Age d’Or?  Probably they’re romantic too – have to think about that one.

Blackpaint

Saturday

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