Posts Tagged ‘Lorenzo Monaco’

Blackpaint 365 – Heroic Mannerism in the Ironic Park

November 2, 2012

Harryhausen

I’ve been referring to the great film modeller as Harry Harryhausen; I now find, sadly from his obit., that it was RAY Harryhausen.  Sorry Ray – apposite really, as I’ve been in Budapest for a few days, and visited..

Memento Park

This is where they put a number of the Communist – era socialist realist and- what to call them? heroic mannerist?- statues to pose and beckon to each other across the grass and gravel paths.  Amongst these monstrosities is a memorial to the Hungarian International Brigade that fought with the Republicans in Spain; the unfortunate volunteers resemble, to me, the inhabitants of that island of Goonies that were in the old Popeye cartoon (apologies to my younger reader).  Some of these statues remind me of Ray Harryhausen’s work.

I was quite impressed that, so relatively soon after the end of communist rule, Hungarians can treat these relics with the irony shown here.

Budapest Fine Art Museum, Heroes Square

A Cezanne exhibition, Cezanne and the Past, in the museum at the moment; many of his drawings of Old Masters, and some paintings which were surprisingly bad.  BUT – there was Madame Cezanne with her striped, picket-fence skirt (best picture), Madame C. in Blue, with her face almost a Modigliani (second best) – and “Basket of Apples” and “Kitchen Table”; fabulous fruit and tablecloths, tilting to the spectator.  In both, the table fore-edges are out of line, as if there were two small tables in each picture, the divide hidden by the snowy tablecloths.  My partner insists that this is part of the intentional (and revolutionary) distortion – I can’t see it, I think he just couldn’t be bothered to re-jig it.

In the permanent exhibition, which we had to shoot through at speed, I noted the following:

Sassetta, St. Thomas Aquinas in Prayer – beautiful, Duccio-like green “framing” – my favourite picture.

Maso di Banco; obviously “influenced” by Giotto – or maybe the other way round? No – one of Giotto’s best pupils.

Lorenzo Monaco – a cut-out crucifixion; never seen anything like it;

Bosch – “The Bacchus Singers”; one with a finger down his throat, puking on the floor behind the oblivious others;

Bosch again – a very damaged copy of a section of “Garden of Earthly Delights”;

Lucas Cranach – Salome with John B’s head, smirking at the spectator, really pleased with herself; JB looking less so;

Pieter Brueghel – John the Baptist (in happier days) sermon; the one with the woman in the Japanese hat.

Hans Holbein the Elder – “the Dormition of the Virgin”, in a style so much more archaic than the realist portraits of his genius son (although H the Younger’s biblical scenes were not so different);

A couple of brilliant Bonnards – look at them from across the room to see them as abstracts, they work brilliantly.

And lots more, will finish next blog.

Adrian Heath

Thought he was a minor painter, sort of link between London and St.Ives; but I’ve just got the new Lund Humphries book by Jane Rye – he was staggeringly good.  There are obvious similarities in places to Poliakoff, Terry Frost (a friend and also ex -POW) and Roger Hilton; but I think they are richer and more interesting than any of them.  Rye is right when she talks about the sense of calmness, balance, and chaos breaking through.  they are just beautiful and I can’t over-praise them.

Andriassy

Blackpaint

2/11/12

Advertisements

Blackpaint 238

January 4, 2011

1st blog of the year – but not necessarily the best, which is yet to come.

Posters

Looking at that Durer rhino in the British Museum the other day, I was reminded of the posters that used to cover the stains and graffitti on the walls of my room at university some years ago.  Decades, actually; several, in fact.  I can see them now, in my mind, through a cloud of swirling cigarette smoke, stuck crookedly to the internal breeze block walls of Suffolk Terrace; Cinnamon Girl pounding out and drowning the howling of the wind blowing from the Urals across the plains of Earlham Village.

Sorry about the digression.  Anyway, there was the rhino and another Durer – the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – in gold lines on black paper.  Later, when I moved in with my partner in the Fine City, there were new ones on the wall – a Hobbema treescape of somewhere in the Netherlands that looked more like Indonesian jungle, and Kandinsky’s “Cossacks”.  For months, I thought it was completely abstract, vivid squiggles of colour on an off-white ground – until one day, it was pointed out to me that the upright lines on the right were the Cossacks’ lances and the red squares were their furry hats.  This sort of reassured me and I began to like it, but it was many years before I was completely happy liking pictures that didn’t correspond to something in the “real world”.

The difference was that my Durers came from the poster shop in town, whilst my partner’s Kandinsky was from some gallery in London, probably the Tate.  Abstract didn’t sell well to students, but the Apocalypse – mounted dead men after all – were just like the Nazgul in Lord of the Rings.

Uffizi

My eldest son gave me a catalogue of the above for Christmas – when we went in 2002, the queue was too long.  I was looking at the Piero di Cosimo, “The Liberation of Andromeda”.  Weird monster, with its straight tusks – but then, the whole picture is weird.  There are, to quote the guide, “nordic woods and straw huts on the unlikely looking hilltops in the background.  The musical instruments are equally unlikely…they are all missing a soundbox or strings”.  This is also weird, since the strings are clearly visible – the writer is correct about the soundboxes however and the lute – like thing on the right seems to have a serpent’s head attached to a bagpipe chanter or a flute of some kind.   Didn’t I read somewhere that there is someone who specialises in building strange instruments depicted in paintings?  He’d have fun with this one.

Lorenzo Monaco

In the same book, Monaco’s altarpiece, “Coronation of the Virgin”, 1413.  On the left hand panel (looking at it, that is) a group of saints and martyrs with highly suspicious and disgruntled expressions.  some can be identified by their attributes; there is the Baptist with his staff ending in a cross, Stephen with two rocks on his head, Peter with his big key and one with a club – or is it a bundle of sticks?  If a club, I think it’s St. James the Less, who was beaten to death with a hatter’s club.  But who is that with the sword?  Someone who was beheaded, I suppose.

More on Uffizi, and on Cezanne and others in next blog.  Meanwhile, good to see Wolfie Adams through but a pity that he had to knock John Boy Walton out – what a game of darts though.

Blackpaint

Midnight

03.01.11

Blackpaint 141

May 26, 2010

Tate Modern’s  10th anniversary

Saw the programme fronted by Matthew Collings on the above last night and had the pleasure of hearing Joan Mitchell described as a “lady abstract expressionist”;  Collings also offered the opinion that she was “not on the same level” as Pollock or Rothko.  Whilst this is arguably the case with Pollock, at least for those few years that he was producing the incomparable drip paintings, I have to ask, why Rothko?  Because he always insisted on the importance of his paintings, and conducted himself with almost insane self-importance, surrounded himself, or was surrounded by, an air of religiosity?  Joan Mitchell, I submit (members  of the jury), was “not on the same level” because she was a woman in a mad, macho bunch of egotists and because she chose to go to live and work in France.  I think Collings has been influenced (unconsciously,no doubt) by the misogyny of the movement, and I think her work stands comparison with the best of the ab exes.

Rothko

The thing about Rothko, though, is this: maybe, when you find that thing that you paint, there really is no point in painting anything else.  Just about everything he did, after discovering the panels of colour, was variations on that same theme.  Some of them are very beautiful and provoke profound reactions in the viewer, some are just the variations.  Ingots with slots or panels of different, shimmering colours; archways of light or darkness.  He hit it and stuck with it, and that obsessiveness has a power in itself, creates its own beauty (or horror) – neither the right word; validity maybe, but that’s a bloodless term to use.

Lorenzo Monaco

Should have mentioned the beautiful virgin and child by the above at Edinburgh; a rather well-developed baby (actually, could have been up to 10 years old) with a mop of curls rather like Titian’s Joseph.  Also, several small Duccio- like panels with that dusty pink that he does – but it was someone else, whose name escapes me.

Photographs really “glamourise” pictures sometimes; those snotty remarks I made about Titian’s surfaces seem nonsense when you look at the photos in the Companion.

Blackpaint

26.05.10

Blackpaint 132

May 11, 2010

Kingdom of Ife

A few blogs ago (Blackpaint 123),  I was writing about the mixture of naturalistic and stylised features in the atrifacts  of this culture as if it were something unique.  it isn’t of course, and I realised this looking at the picture of Nebamun, a “reckoner of grain”, hunting fowl in the marshes, done on a tomb wall in Egypt around 1390BC (30.000 years of  art, Phaidon, page 113).  The hunter is in the typical Egyptian profile pose, one leg advanced, body turned towards the viewer, face side view; the animals, however, particularly a cat, are “Unfettered by the strict conventions that applied to representations of people” – and are portrayed in a more naturalistic way.  There are, no doubt, many other examples from other cultures.

Renaissance Drawings (cont.)

Leonardo, “An old man and young man in profile”; parallel and tonal shading.  Little sketches of his war machines, revolving sickles and circular tanks like little flying saucers.

More Leo – a very densely shaded little sketch, I think of St. Anne with the infant that became the cartoon.  Also, the man in profile with the bizarre winged hat, and that fantastic left leg done in red chalk. 

Sangallo (?) – a poet tearing up a scroll; like the Pollaiulo Adam, very dodgily proportioned arms and legs.  Maybe this is intentional stylisation  which appears “wrong” in the presence of all this virtuosity.

Piero Di Cosimo, St. Jerome in a rocky landscape, done in charcoal on 5 sheets of paper joined together,  it looks like a soft pencil drawing.  The label says the lion is in there, but I couldn’t find it.

In a side room, a sketch for Raphael’s “St.George” that I blogged about on St.George’s Day in Blackpaint 118.  Cross hatching and parallel shading, top left to bottom right.  Also a facsimile of the painting.

More Raphael – an “Entombment”, with cross hatching in the “Michelangelo” style.  Raphael’s male figures, although beautifully drawn, tend to be fleshier and smoother than those of Michelangelo and Leonardo; I wonder if he was less involved in dissecting bits of dead body that the others, who show great relish for delineating the exact dimensions and shape of muscle, bone and tendon.

Michelangelo – best in show, I think; a youth beckoning, with a fantastic back, cross hatching, and the legs and one arm “ghosted” in, fading away from the centre of the drawing;  Loads of big, fat babies their skin in folds, all cross hatched; two perfectly drawn legs upside down on page.  Most of Mick’s stuff is like real sketching in a modern book, jostling for room on a page or intersecting with other drawings.

Carpaccio – lovely effects on blue paper with lead white.

Botticelli – a “Pallas” with two adjacent heads and three eyes, one shared by both heads!

Fra Bartolomeo, Virgin and Child, showing distinct Leonardo influence.

Del Verocchio, Leo’s master – several beautiful, demure heads or women and angel, one of which is the poster girl for the exhibition.

Lorenzo Monaco, whose sketches look decidedly modern, but in painting become those archaic saints  with the dark faces and spade – shaped beards.

Finally (for me, anyway, because I went the wrong way round), that beautiful pair of cheetahs or leopards done by “a follower of De Grassi”. 

Generally then, some very great drawings – I’ll be going again, so will not spoil this with any of my usual cynicism.  To my mind, the exhibition serves to underline the supremacy of L and M; but plenty more of interest too.

Head of St.Anonymous by Blackpaint

Blackpaint

10.05.10