Posts Tagged ‘Mantegna’

Blackpaint 616 – Peevish Charles, Resentful Leavers and the Platypus

February 21, 2018

RA- Charles I Exhibition

Obviously the Holbeins and Van Dycks are the stars of this show – that Van Dyck family portrait with the kids and dog and baby  is noticeably informal, compared to earlier group portraits.  The hunting portrait of Charles, borrowed from the Louvre, is great; I think it’s the satin-clad elbow poking out at you.  On TV, some pundit said the horse in the picture “stole the show”; I say the elbow does.  The triple portrait of Charles on the poster captures a sort of querulous obstinacy; weak-eyed, peevish but with clear indications of an inflexible wilfulness.

Fantastic Mantegna series of the Roman Triumph; tapestries based on Raphael cartoons, especially The Miraculous Draft of Fishes; I’m not keen on that Titian of the man in furs with the big dog jumping up at him.

Leavers and Remainers  (Trauma, Requiem)

Maybe because I’ve just read David Goodhart’s The Road to Somewhere, I keep seeing the two sides in the Brexit vote represented in TV drama.  The John Sims character in “Trauma”, bitter, obsessive, smouldering with self-righteous anger at the doctor who failed to save the life of Sims’ son after he was stabbed.  He’s the Brexiter, of course, hating and pursuing Adrian Lester’s smooth, rich, elite surgeon.

There is also “Requiem”, with the Remainers being the young cellist and her devoted accompanist, the Brexiters being the hostile, defensive Welsh villagers, burning with resentment towards these invaders from London with their nosy questions.  More to both these series of course; probably just my obsession.

The Post, dir. Spielberg (2017)

Very old-fashioned Spielberg film – stirring music at strategic moments, Hanks and Streep doing the Right Thing in defiance of the US government, an admiring group of young women gazing up at Streep as she leaves the courtroom…   I did reflect, though, that the Washington Post’s publishing of the Pentagon Papers would never have happened in the UK, with the various restrictions on the media that can be brought into play here and, indeed, the willingness of the British media to cave in to the government.

Loveless, dir, Zvyagintsev (2017)

The poster said “mesmerising” and “riveting”; can be code for very, very slow…  But, happily, the film is both (mesmerising and riveting, that is).  After “Leviathan”, Zvyagintsev has shifted his focus from politics and the new gangster elites in Russia to the personal; furious, bitter fighting between his divorcing parents lead a Russian teenager to go missing in a forest near Moscow.  Much of the film concerns the campaign by a volunteer group to trace the youngster, setting about the search in a determined and disciplined way, going to considerable lengths to do what the police might be expected to do, or at least, attempt.

Brett Whiteley

I’ve been looking at Whiteley’s work again, and I have to say, he takes collage to stunning lengths; among the objects affixed to various works are the following: teeth, brain (actually a slice on a slide, by the looks of it in the photo), eggs, birds – and a platypus.

To Yirrawalla (1972)

 

Little Van Gogh

I’ve got some pictures with this group, which rents paintings out to offices, moving them around every few months.  Examples below – they’re all mine.

 

Blackpaint

21.2.18

 

Advertisements

Blackpaint 423 – Spencer and Durer, Honey and Fire

November 28, 2013

Durer at the Courtauld

Drawings, woodcuts and etchings showing influence of Italy on Durer; includes great drawings by Mantegna as well.  Durer’s broken outlines, dense and varied hatching on display; great piglets (actually look more like wild boars) in Prodigal Son.  A young woman in a Mantegna drawing looks just as if she’s on her mobile.

Also in gallery, Richard Serra drawings, consisting of masses of crushed black crayon pressed down by Mylar, a sort of transparent plastic.  So, quite a broad spectrum of drawing style on display at Courtauld…

Still think the best painting in the gallery is the Marx Reichlich portrait of the young woman below.

(c) The Courtauld Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Skaters in courtyard below look just like figures in a Lowry, provided weather dull and overcast – pretty safe bet at this time of year.

Stanley Spencer at the Courtauld

In the Terrace Rooms, behind the ice rink, the murals from Burghclere, relating to WW1.  Only one shows action (I don’t think it’s one of the murals); Irish soldiers, struck by a salvo of shells from Turkish artillery.  The viewpoint is maybe 30ft above the ground; a great, looping, grey envelope of smoke, with shadowy forms of horses or men concealed in its folds.  Dead and injured are scattered on the rock or cinders, wounded being carried away.

All the other large pictures share a similar viewpoint – 10 – 30 ft above ground or floor, sometimes the ground tilting drastically upwards about halfway down the picture.  This is most noticeable in the strange picture of soldiers drinking from a spring or well or waterhole – they lie face down, capes stretching along their backs like folded ants’ wings, maybe, lapping at the water, as if pinned to a board tilted towards us.

In another picture, “Map Reading”, I think, only the officer is bothering; in the background, a bunch of soldiers gather berries from bushes in flower, as if they are on the Sussex downs or in a garden in Kent.

spencer mural

In several pictures, white sheets, mosquito nets, bandages, even buckets echo the idea of angelic wings; all tasks portrayed are mundane; scrubbing lockers, eating bread and jam, bathing…

Unfortunately, the Resurrection centre piece is represented only by a giant slide projection, since it is impossible to move the original.  The crosses don’t have that 3D quality they have in the photographs.  A great exhibition though, and free.

Bal

A Turkish film, director Kaplanoglu, set in lush green, mountainous forests, terraces of planted tea; a honey-gatherer who dies alone in the forest when he falls from a tree, his son who speaks only in whispers… A great scene of communal dancers at a mountain fair, women in traditional dress, curtains of mist drifting around the cars and stalls scattered around the hillside.  The pace is “stately” throughout, so be prepared for scenes in Bela Tarr time. “Bal” means honey; it’s one of the “Yusuf” trilogy, with Egg and Milk.

Gravity

When Sandra Bullock is aboard the Russian space craft and fire breaks out, the alarm screen says “FIRE!” in English.  All other notices and instructions are in Russian only.

A Passage to India

Finally got round to reading this, and I’m impressed with the way Forster unfolds the misunderstandings, crassness and arrogance operating between the British, the Indians and the “Eurasians”, and within the Indian groups.  I think I need to read “Burmese Days” again, as well.  Burma, not India, of course, and somewhat later than “Passage”, but I think it will be instructive.

??????????

Skegness

Blackpaint

28.11.13

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 223

November 25, 2010

Bridget Riley at the National Gallery

This exhibition contains both Riley’s own works and those of artists she has herself chosen, presumably to illustrate her inspirations and connections with her paintings.  “Escape 3” is the first of her works on show.  It is a canvas of modulating grey and blue wavy horizontal lines.  When I looked at this in the gallery, it appeared to me that the top half was irregular in terms of the width of the lines and their spacing, whilst the lower half consisted of two areas which “tilted” towards the viewer like a hinged sandwich.

Later, I saw the exhibition reviewed on TV and it was obvious that this division was false; the undulating, horizontal lines are “crossed” by regularly- spaced “creases” running diagonally top to bottom.  Optical illusion, but I only “got” the proper illusion, as it were, when the TV distanced me from it.

Opposite is Mantegna’s “Introduction of the Cult of Cybele to Rome”.  Processions of celebrants going this way and that, very strong sculptural effect, almost 3D.  Riley says the painting has “an all – embracing rhythm with which he (Mantegna) builds horizontals and verticals”.  The connection is “the special nature of pictorial space” in his paintings.

The other paintings she has selected are Raphael’s “St.Catherine”, in which more rhythmic currents in the portrayal of robes, the wheel, the figure are present; and three small Seurat figures -in -landscape  sketches, which presumably resonate with her palette (as does the Raphael).

There are two huge paintings, one on linen, the other directly on the wall (executed by assistants), which are in pastelly blue, green, beige and orange and resemble  cut out and concertina’d paper decorations, leaning viewer’s left to right, and stretched across an area of wall.  “Arcadia”, on linen, was done in 2007, “Blue” this year, of course.  The rhythms are there, the colours echo the Seurats to a degree. 

 There is a whole wall covered with empty black circles, which intersect like Venn diagrams; a colourful, vertical stripes painting (like those Mod blazers from the 60’s – yes, I had one); and a shimmering, modulating – again- set of black through to white dots, set in a circular pattern.  The most striking work, I think, is “Red on Red”, a beautiful, flame-like image in red, pink, orange and Prussian blue.

So, at first glance, highly unlikely combination  of images, but possible to see what she is driving at.  I’m unable to swallow Andrew Graham – Dixon’s assertions that her work reflects her love of natural forms, however;  I think you can probably take ANY painter and set your terms wide enough to discover ANY influences, echoes, associations you like – or, at least, art journalists can.  Just chop and wave your hands, assert EMPHATICALLY and pause for dramatic effect before the last word.

Quiz; Who painted the tower at Neunen, over and over again (no, I mean paintings, not the actual tower)?

Blackpaint, unfinished yet.

25.11.10

 

Blackpaint 131

May 10, 2010

Robert Natkin

Obituary today of another great painter I’d never heard of until I saw the Guardian.  An abstract expressionist and colour field painter, his paintings are misty light blue and red/orange patches and ovals, often with a milky surface, as if seen through white muslin.  I like his stuff a lot; a bit like a washed-out Hans Hoffman in some.  There’s a photographer of the same name, who died in 1996.

Fra Angelico to Leonardo – Italian Renaissance Drawings

Finally got to this today; crowded, but not packed.  So much in it that I’ll do it over a couple of days.

Here goes, in no particular order: Michelangelo, “old man in a hat” – shading vertical lines and top left to bottom right and cross hatching.  Elsewhere in exhibition, notes refer to cross hatching as the characteristic Michelangelo style (new to me; see Blackpaint 16 about Mick’s, Leo’s and others’ shading habits).

Several Siennese drawings, all based on Duccio paintings.

“Hanged men” by Pisanello, clearly done from life, as it were; the one with the drooping thigh boot rather haunting.

Gozzoli and Lippo Lippi pictures on blue paper, in metal- and silverpoint highlights picked out in white lead, really effective.

Ghirlandaio drawing of servant woman pouring out a jug, with cross-hatching “in the Michelangelo style”.  One of the best drawings, I think; he was Mick’s mentor.

Da Vinci’s 1473 landscape – the earliest European landscape say the notes – must check on other cultures.  Very variable shading, all directions, short and long, a little like some of Van Gogh’s. 

More Leo, Virgin and child with cat, loose sketching, hardly any shading, quick and – sketchy.  Also Christ with cat.

Leo, background to Adoration of the Magi with perspective lines ruled in, like a diagram – surely just an intellectual exercise for him.

Rosselli, Mount Sinai – again, no trees (see Blackpaint 112 on Michelangelo, who doesn’t do trees either).

Pollaiuolo – a very strange Adam; rangy and muscular, with a right arm completely out of proportion and short bandy legs, leaning on a stick as if it were a crutch, teamed with a more conventional drawing of Eve.

Mantegna, St.James led to execution, the shading lines run from bottom left to top right, some horizontal; in the next picture, Man on Slab (Lazarus?), the shading is reversed, as it is in his Virgin and Child.

Two beautiful drawings by Bellini with tonal shading, that to me, were reminiscent of Ingres; in the next picture, however, attributed to Bellini and done in the same medium, there was clear parallel shading from top left to bottom right.  They looked quite different to me.  this latter drawing was called “Campo San Lio”.

I’ll finish today with Ghirlandaio’s drapery study (beautiful); apparently, he dipped the cloth  in wax and hung it on an armature so that it hardened and the folds were preserved.

More tomorrow, including Carpaccio, more Michelangelo, more Leonardo, Raphael and – more.

Apotheosis of Blackpaint

10.05.2010