Posts Tagged ‘Manet’

Blackpaint 622 – On the Beach and the Aftermath

June 18, 2018

On Chesil Beach (dir. Dominic Cooke, 2017)

A rather slender book from Ian McEwan in 2007, this turned out to be one of his best novels.  A sort of tragedy, brought about, I had thought,  by the ridiculous secrecy and shame surrounding sex in English manners (amongst the respectable classes anyway), it concerns the catastrophic breakdown of a marriage before it even gets started.

The film, for the most part, is true to the period (1962) and the actors are brilliant, especially the central couple Florence and Edward, played by Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle. However, I left the cinema moaning that the film contained a clear suggestion that Florence’s father had abused her sexually, a suggestion which I was sure was not in the book, as was my partner.   Turns out we were both wrong – it’s there in the book, unmistakeable and not even that subtle, yet neither of us noticed it, first time round.

However, McEwan, who did the adaptation for screen himself, has added a couple of other differences; the man who hits Mather and is beaten up by Edward in retaliation, is described in the book as a rocker in a leather jacket, as is his wife/girlfriend.  In the film, they are “respectably” dressed.  This changes the message about 60s England; Mather is assaulted, for his bookish, or more likely Jewish, appearance by a man of conventional society, rather than a rebellious member of a violent sub-culture.

The other difference is that, in the book, Edward and Florence never meet again after Chesil Beach.  In the film, he attends her farewell concert a lifetime later, at the Wigmore Hall, she spots him in the audience, tears run down aged faces and the whole thing sinks into sentimental slush.  And the ageing makeup makes Edward look ridiculous, like an R.Crumb cartoon.

Aftermath (Tate Britain, to 23rd September)

It’s the aftermath of WWI; the question is, of course, when does the aftermath finish and the prelude to WWII start?  Obviously, the war memorials should be in there (fantastic bronze reliefs from Sargeant Jagger, an almost Socialist Realist maquette of a British soldier reading a letter from home and the soaring, Spencerish angel by Ernst Barlach, with Lovis Corinth’s face).  Ditto, the mutilated card players of Dix, Grosz’s precisely drawn cartoons of German amputees, profiteers and prostitutes, Beckmann’s “Night” et al.  But what about Ernst’s  “Celebes”?  Anyway, some wonderful art – my selections below:

 

Stanley Spencer, Unveiling Cookham War Memorial

I think the flanneled youths reclining on the green are war dead.

 

John Heartfield and George Grosz

Reminiscent of Picabia – or maybe even Ed Kienholz (see last blog)?

 

Kurt Schwitters

This great collage apparently demonstrates the need to reassemble the shattered pieces of post WWI Europe…

 

Georges Rouault, Face to Face

There are several more Rouaults, but the tend to have crucified Christs in them, a demerit in my view.

 

Oskar Nerlinger, Radio Mast Berlin

A striking view straight up the tower – you spot this from the preceding room through the archway; very impressive.

 

Oskar Schlemmer

I love his Bauhaus figures; there’s that great painting of the students going up the stairs…

Also numerous paintings of striking and/or marching workers, serene English countryside and serene English ladies, German pigs, a great William Roberts jazz club dance and the top bit of Epstein’s “Rock Drill”

 

Lisa Brice – Tate Britain

There’s a roomful of these at TB at the moment; that blue and red combination is really striking.  Women in various states of undress, sitting around, smoking, drinking…  She’s South African and some of her drawings (in paint) are reminiscent of Marlene Dumas.  At least one looks to be based on a William Rothenstein, which is also in TB, a couple of rooms away.

 

Tomma Abts, Serpentine Sackler Gallery

German Turner Prize winner from a few years back; sort of trompe l’oiel pictures, abstract but resembling twining metal strips, reflected light – they are all the same (small) size, which tends to be undermining when there are a lot of them together.

 

 

Per Kirkeby

He died a couple of weeks ago.   I love those huge, dark canvases he did with the blooms of colour (see below) and the credits to the von Trier film with Bjork, “Dancer in the Dark”.  In his earlier work, like the first one below, he reminds me a bit of Sigmar Polke and even Asger Jorn – but that’s probably because of the variety; books, poetry etc.

Per Kirkeby, A Youthful Trick, 1964

 

Kirkeby, Flight into Egypt, 1996

Manet 

This great self portrait (?) of Manet was on a TV prog called “Great Art” a while back – but no details were given.

On the Beach

Blackpaint

18.06.18

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 443 – Deacon, Cezanne, Fellini and Bragg

April 25, 2014

Richard Deacon at Tate Britain – until Sunday!

I was unexcited about the prospect of visiting this exhibition, since painting is more my thing than sculpture usually; that’s why it took me so long to get around to it.  I was surprised – it’s great.  Wood, metal, cement. sometimes all three together – wooden strips looping along the floor and rearing up like lassos; an oblong metal “shell”, open at both ends, with a flat metal lip overlapping and then blending with the edge of the orifice.  It just lies there on the floor, like a giant grey metal cream horn.

deacon1

A splintered and tortured steamed oak and metal structure, writhing all over the floor – how does he twist the wood like that?  I presume it’s made possible by the steaming process.

deacon2

A black “hogan” shaped thing, or maybe giant seed case called “Struck Dumb”, rather spoilt in my view by a red bow tie shape at one end;  “After”, a huge, “wickerwork” snake, curling across the gallery, stiffened by a wide silver metal band running from end to end.  A group of small, organic shapes, sculpted in various materials, like a group of sea creatures washed up by the tide.  And terrific, looping, diagramatic drawings with erasures and fuzzed lines in blue ink.

deacon 3

Great sculptures and great engineering.  It finishes this Sunday, so go this weekend.

Ruin Lust, Tate B

I thought this stretched the definition of “ruin” a bit far; there is a series of photographs by Gerard Byrne, for instance, which show hangovers or survivals of 60s design in present-day architecture and society – great photos, interesting idea, but not really “ruin”.  Unlike Waldemar Januszczak, however, I don’t really care if the concept is stretched though, as long as there’s some good art to look at in the exhibition.  And there is some; several paintings and prints of Llanthony Abbey to kick off.  I know it well and none of these look much like it (not that it matters).   The usual suspects are here; Turner, Constable, Wilson Steer.  There’s a mildly Apocalyptic John Martin, of the Pompeii eruption, which looks to me as if it’s happening in a vast underground chamber – my partner tells me he did some designs for sewers during the cholera epidemics, so maybe that influenced him. They are in Jeremy Deller’s exhibition in Nottingham, I understand.  Photos of stupendous German bunkers and gun emplacements on the Atlantic coast, by the Wilson sisters;  A couple of familiar surrealistic pictures by Paul Nash; a great Sutherland and a Piper church.

piper 1

I thought Ian Hislop’s description of Piper as “a committed Modernist, in love with the Olden Days” (The Olden Days, BBC2) was spot on.  Some war photographs from Rachel Whiteread and a Patrick Caulfield, which displays the contrast between his clean, radiantly coloured, graphic style and the ruinous subject matter.  Not one of the great exhibitions, but a good 30 minute job. if you are a Tate member and don’t have to fork out specially.

Cezanne and the Modern , Oxford Ashmolean Museum

This is just packed out with interesting things, as is the permanent collection at the museum ( I’ll write about that in next blog, along with the Matisse cut-outs).

The Cezannes are mostly watercolours; the best of these are one of a rockface or quarry, almost like an early Hamilton car fender drawing from a distance; and one called “Undergrowth”, I think, like a pen and ink and wash drawing.  Then, there is a single, large, unfinished oil painting called “Route to le Tholonet”, which has beautiful, subtle blue, brown and green hillsides behind a couple of tree trunks and a sketchy cottage – it’s oil, but it looks like watercolour, especially in the exhibition guide (good for £5).  Also pears in a bowl, a skull and a shimmering bottle still life.  Great St.Victoire, next door with the others.

Others: Great Modiglianis, one of Cocteau, pink cheeks, spidery body and features, wrists and chin and a male face, a Russian I think, with a crooked, “stuck on” nose;

A striking Degas nude, “After the bath, woman drying herself” – her bum is right in your face as you enter the gallery; she appears to be diving forwards, her arm and shoulder outlined in red, head disappearing behind divan, or whatever.  Her head’s in the wrong place, it seems to me, too far to the right…;

degas ashmolean

A Van Gogh, “the Tarrascon Stage”, the paint badged on thickly in sticky-looking squares;

A fabulous Manet, “Young Woman in a Round Hat” – on the wall above is a quotation from Manet; “There are no lines in Nature…” and yet, round the woman’s left shoulder and arm, a very visible black line.  Great painting though.

manet round hat

 

Soutine – these are a revelation; he’s much more than the sides of beef.  A thick red-lipped, crop-headed self portrait; A beautiful, sad-eyed portrait of an unknown woman in a black dress, with a dark blue background;  an awful choirboy and an awful hanging turkey BUT – three expressionist paintings of the town of Ceret, that look a little like Auerbach building sites, but with curving lines.  There’s a church spire from below looking up, recalling Delaunay’s Eiffel Tower.  Another, with two paths meeting to form a triangle, like the legs of that Boccione statuette… all done in the late 20s.

soutine 2

Fellini, “81/2”

Stunning opening and closing sequences – in the opening, Mastroianni (Fellini) floats high above, attached by the ankle to a line and to a car (it’s a dream sequence) – and the closing, the actors take part in a Dance of Fools, hand in hand, to the music of a clown band – shades of “The Seventh Seal”.

The Olden Days (BBC2)

I mention this series again, NOT because my son Nicky was a researcher on it (although he was), but because I was struck by the startling resemblance of Billy Bragg to the photograph portrait of the older William Morris…

??????????

Heaven Only Knows (final version)

Blackpaint

25.04.14

Blackpaint 416 – “It’s Rather Like…”; Manet in Munich, Mrs. Pynchon in the Newsroom

October 15, 2013

Munich Marathon

Sorry about break in transmission – I’ve been in Germany, running in the above.  Didn’t get the chance to see much art, except for a brief visit to the Neue Pinakothek  (there are about five art museums, all in the same area; there is one with Warhols, Twomblys etc., but I missed that).

There were three pictures that stood out for me; two by Manet, one by Degas.  The first Manet was “Luncheon in the Studio” (1868), in which a young man, Manet’s stepson I think, gazes vacuously out at the viewer, wearing a comedy hat.  Lupin Pooter comes immediately to mind.  A servant attends in the background; the whole picture, execution and composition, made me think of Velasquez.

manet

Manet, Luncheon in the Studio

velazquez1

Velasquez. Las Meninas

Not sure, but the positioning of the table, the food, the picture and Christ in the neighbouring room,  the positioning of the figures and gaze of the principal… Wikipedia doesn’t mention Velasquez as an influence; it goes for Vermeer.

The other Manet that struck me was his portrait of Monet painting on the Seine.  The surface sketchiness and flickering brush strokes reminded me of Dufy.

manet2

The Degas I mentioned is a double portrait of two men, looking out at the viewer, at least one hatted.  Didn’t remind me of anything except other Degas and I can’t find it anywhere on the net.

The Pinakothek, like the art museum in Budapest that I wrote about; huge, imposing, echoing rooms, vast staircases, not many punters.

Butchers Crossing

Just finished this novel by John Williams, of “Stoner” fame;  It’s rather cliche – ridden, with sequences that bring back western novels and films of the 50s and 60s – Richard Boone maybe, as Miller, the obsessive buffalo hunter; a young Jeff Bridges, possibly, as Andrews. Perhaps it’s best thought of as a pint-sized Moby-Dick, with all the accompanying rambling left out.  I know that’s rather like Ulysses, without all the annoying thoughts of Bloom and Daedalus and Molly…

The Newsroom

Watching this last night, with it’s preposterous ending, I was taken back to “Lou Grant” in the 80s.  The proprietor, the one who looks like Jane Fonda (now), arrives to pass sentence after the latest fuck up (wrongly accusing US forces of using sarin gas in a raid in Afghanistan); she forgives them all, tells them she loves them, adds some uplifting sentiment…  It’s Mrs Pynchon again, before she morphed into Tony’s Soprano’s mother.  This sequence was, however, the only one in which the characters didn’t communicate at machine-gun speed, finishing each other’s thoughts, as if determined to exclude the chance of a casual viewer accidentally understanding what they are on about.

It’s Rather Like…

I am acutely aware that this blog has become little more than a string of comparisons between paintings, programmes, books, even museums.  I think a change of direction is needed, so I am considering a blog in which I discuss artworks which are NOT like each other in any respect.  So, here goes…

In the Neue Pinakothek, was this beautiful portrait by Wilhelm Leibl, “Girl With White Headscarf”:

Liebl

I was struck by how unlike it is to Turner’s “Snowstorm, Steamboat off a Harbour’s Mouth”, ..which is mostly water.

turner

 

 

More art works which are completely unlike each other in next blog.

marian platz

 

Marian Platz by Marion Jones

Blackpaint

15.10.13

Blackpaint 239

January 5, 2011

Mantegna

I’m back in the Uffizi catalogue today, looking at two works by the above:  The Madonna of the Rocks and the Adoration of the Magi triptych.  The latter was apparently not conceived as a triptych, but was put together later.  It consists of the Adoration, the Ascension (of Christ) and the Circumcision.

I’m always impressed by Mantegna’s hard, chiselled edges, the paint sculpted to give a relief effect at times; that, and his vivid, somehow cold colours that remind me of the Northern painters of the Netherlands.

The Madonna pre-dates Leonardo’s two versions of the Virgin of the Rocks (1493-5 and 1506-8); the Uffizi guide gives 1488-90 for the Mantegna, which was painted in Rome.  I wonder if Leonardo knew the painting, and whether “on the rocks” was a common setting or theme?  It seems rather a coincidence otherwise.

Mantegna’s virgin looks particularly doleful, whilst the pasty, pudgy faced Christ actually looks dead to me (I panicked a lot when my kids were young).  This dead look chimes rather with the tomb “visible below – an allusion to Christ’s sepulchre and a prediction of the destiny of the Child (sic) lying in the Virgin’s lap”, as the guide puts it.

The Adoration is a strange picture – sharply drawn against a cold, darkening blue sky, it features a circlet of those little putti, I think they’re called – winged half -babies, pinky red on the left, stone coloured on the right, surrounding the virgin and child as if mounted on a Christmas tree behind them.  A star – THE star – is set amongst four grown-up angels, immediately above the cave; the stable, presumably.  The tail of the star drops a perpendicular tail to the mother and baby, and there is a black, thread-like line, possibly a crack, dropping from the top of the picture down to the Magi.  the effect is that of grappling hooks and lines being lowered from heaven.

The Ascension also features a circlet of putti, all red this time, their little wings powering Christ’s ascent on a small round tablet of rock.   As he goes up, he grasps the pole of the red cross standard, like a boy scout on Church Parade.   A group of disciples gaze up at him, as well they might.

Cezanne

I’m very struck by the varying attraction of Cezanne’s paintings in the Phaidon book by Catherine Dean.  For me, they range from nothing much (Bay of Marseilles, seen from l’Estaque, Chestnut Trees at the Jas de Bouffon, building at Jas de Bouffon, Dr. Gachet’s House) to staggering (Lac d’Annecy, some Mont St. Victoires, Card Players, Boy in Red Waistcoat – with the really long right arm – the Still Lifes with apples and/or peaches and the fantastic Blue Vase).

The one that caught my attention today was “A Modern Olympia” – rather comical, cartoonish, especially the black servant whipping away the white sheet to reveal the naked woman, her legs scrunched up in front of her for modesty, before the upward gaze of the bearded, seated gentleman visitor – Cezanne himself?  Particularly striking, I thought, was the difference between this and all the other repros in the book.  I would never have guessed Cezanne.  The colours and the looseness of the brush strokes, as if the images were almost on the verge of disintegration, called to mind Cecily Brown – if only for a moment.

Rauschenberg

Cezanne’s picture is a “modernisation” of Manet’s 1863 Olympia, of course; I happened to come across Rauschenberg’s “Odalisque”, 1955-9, presumably another modernisation.  A stuffed white rooster stands atop an easel(?) on which is a colourful Rausch collage, topped by a small picture of a naked woman seated on the floor – looks like Marilyn, but I can’t quite make it out.

Fish Eye

Blackpaint

05.01.10

Blackpaint 110

April 14, 2010

Musee d’Orsay

Do not despair; last entry on Paris,  two collections to go.

This one is the giant train station, with the central aisle and landings occupied by a host of sculptures, some bizarre, reminding me of the murderer’s studio in Roger Corman’s “Buckets of Blood”.  The place was packed, of course; the crowd included a party of elderly Americans, one an octogenarian Jimmy Stewart, about 6’6″, thin as a lath, grey-suited, who pointed at a Degas and drawled in a Boston accent ,”I would love that for my collection,” apparently in all seriousness.

Where to start?  I suppose the thing that surprised us most was the number of truly awful paintings on show by fantastic, legendary painters.  There were three terrible Manets, one a portrait of a woman with fat red lips, that you might have expected to see on the railings at Hyde Park.  Ditto several Cezannes! Browny, creamy, crappy colours, sloppy execution.  Some ugly (to say the least) Bonnards in crude, harsh greens and -mauves, was it? – that astounded me after seeing the Bonnards at the Pompidou the day before.  And there was a turgid, shit-brown house or bar by Van Gogh, surrounded by a group of several Dutch women.  Maybe they were discussing how bad it was; more probably, they were saying, “Look, that’s that restaurant at the corner of…”

Having said this, there were, of course, shedloads of brilliant Degas, Cezannes, Manets, Van Goghs, Lautrecs, Pissaros, Renoirs (don’t like him anyway, too pretty), Redons, some lovely pastels by Maurice Denis… Very few Seurats, I think I’m right in saying, and the few were very small and not striking.  Just too many Impressionists and Post-impressionists, leaving me gasping for the cool water of Jackson Pollock, Joan Mitchell or de Kooning.

So now the good things.  Manet’s Olympia above all; she’s short, challenging, direct and holds your gaze (which is long) – but her black maid looks odd and unconvincing to me, actually like all black people in paintings by Europeans of the time now I think of it.  Maybe it’s some racism in me, or maybe there’s a thesis in this somewhere – probably already written long ago.  Nearby, Courbet’s vagina – painting, that is – with its little group of engrossed spectators.  Other vast Courbets, darkly varnished, of stags and hunting scenes, elsewhere in rooms of their own, are amongst the awful things.

The wonderful draughtsmanship of Degas and Lautrec evidenced over and over again; those chaps could really do hands!  The Van Goghs, apart from the brown pub, glowing with rich colours, as were some of the Gauguins and Cezannes.  And the Dejeuner sur l’herbe (how many did he do? There’s one in the Courtauld gallery too).

There was a special exhibition called Crime and Punishment, that was like Tussauds with a few great paintings (Blake, Fuseli, Munch) thrown in to give it artistic credibility – but also  a full size guillotine, brown wax death heads, gruesome photos of old murder victims – victims of old murders, that is. 

There was one memorable painting, by Carel Willink, of a hanging scene; the prisoner, in a pin striped suit and collarless shirt, bound at the ankles and knees, standing on the platform, reading from a sheet of paper.  Around him, the hangman and assistants in ’20s suits, waiting patiently, one casually seated on the hand rail.  The noose waiting too, tidily fixed to a hook on the upright timber.  I think it was probably done from a photograph, although he specialised in de Chirico-like empty, dreamlike streets and squares.

Museum of Modern Art

Out by the Eiffel Tower, in a huge white municipal building with columns and steps, covered with graffiti and besieged by skateboarders.  First, Fauves – Vlaminck, Derain, Dufy; loads of ceramics, plates and pots, mostly by Vlaminck, some by Picasso and Matisse; Legers, rough and crumbly close up, a lovely Gris; several harem Matisses, after Delacroix, was it?  A huge Delaunay football painting of a Cardiff City match.

A great room containing several huge Germans – a Polke, a lovely Oehlen, a Baselitz upside-downer – and with them, a Christopher Wool, typical, dark ashy grey, oily lines “crawled” across it in black.  Giant black lemons by Thomas Schutte lying around.  The only annoying thing, pointless to my mind, a number of imitations and copies of paintings by, for instance, Pollock, distinguished by red labels (genuine works were labelled in black).

OK, enough of Paris – back to London tomorrow.

Blackpaint

14.04.10

Blackpaint 77

February 25, 2010

Courtauld Gallery

As promised yesterday, breakdown of the stuff in this brilliant gallery at the entrance to Somerset House on the Strand.

After Michelangelo, there was a room of Kandinskys, ranging from a “fluffy edged” one to sharp, geometric shapes.

Fauves – Derain, Dufy, Vlaminck, a  nude wife from Van Dongen, some boring Matisses.  A lovely, Matisse-like Ivon Hitchens in an uncharacteristic, square-ish shape.  Sketches from Seurat and Sisley, lots of white sky and blossom, I think.  Miniature figures on the sands from Boudin.

Cezanne – a few trees, a wooded lake (check the reflections – do they really go like that?), a St.Victoire, men in bar.

A couple of Gauguins, one of fields, a garish green – good from a distance.

Manet’s “Bar at the Folies Bergeres”, the one where the girl’s reflection is out of line and the bottles of Bass are on the bar (or is it Worthington?).  Also, a “Dejeuner sur L’herbe” – there must be several, I would think.

There’s a lovely Modigliani girl, best I’ve seen, and some great Degas, especially the black, grey and white woman with the umbrella.

Rubens – 6 or 8, a  sketch of the Deposition from the Cross, well, two actually, one with Christ upside-down and the other, the more famous one of him being lowered right way up.  In both, the man at top of cross has the white sheet in his teeth.  There is also the landscape with the stars.

And Van Gogh – Portrait with Bandaged Ear.

Downstairs, in the Gothic room, there is a triptych by the Master of Flemelles, Robert Campin, another Deposition in those cold, piercing Flemish/German colours.  In the corner is a picture which is crude and rather simple close up, but a work of great, colourful beauty from across the room.

So – it’s a brilliant collection.  Years ago, I used to work for Courtaulds in Norwich, making artificial silk,  running a set of power looms in a noisy weaving shed; but I suppose he’d already bought most of this stuff before that…

Boris Anrep

Not a familiar name to me, but I’ve walked over his work scores of times – he did the two mosaic landings at the National Gallery.  Among the Muses are Greta Garbo and Virginia Woolf, Bertrand Russell is there, Some chap climbing a pylon, A.lice in Wonderland for some reason, and the centrepiece, Churchill, fighting the monster Apollyon, I think.  They are well worth a look.

Listening to “Woman Love” by Gene Vincent:

“I went to the doctor, he said “Lord above!

You need a vaccination of woman love.

Let’s go, cats!” (guitar solo).

Blackpaint

25.02.10