Posts Tagged ‘Mark Rothko’

Blackpaint 424 – Lanyon Sketches, Guston, Borgen and Sharks

December 6, 2013

Lanyon Sketches at Gimpel Fils

A fantastic exhibition for Lanyon fans at the above gallery in Davies Street W1, off Oxford Street by Bond Street tube.  There are sketches for the murals at Birmingham and Liverpool Universities and some other studies, all in gouache on thick paper, sometimes several layers.

lanyon4

This is the sketch for the Liverpool work, titled, rather portentously, “The Conflict of Man with Tides and Sands”, done over eight panels of paper; the washed-out colours, white, slate grey shading to blue, ochre, are typical of Lanyon, as is the drawing in heavy black line and sometimes wispy sketchiness, as if done with a nearly dry brush twirled against the surface.

In the Birmingham sketch, Lanyon uses much brighter colours, salmon pink, a bright, almost leaf green, a more vivid blue, a richer ochre; no title for this one.

lanyon5

Those black markings look like calligraphy, like Kline a bit – or maybe mathematical symbols; not sure which faculty the mural was for.  One other example – this one’s called “Yellow Middle”, but it looks like a plough to me.

lanyon2

Morton Feldman, “Give My Regards to Eighth Street”

A very abstruse collection of writings by the avant-garde composer, in which he frequently draws comparisons between music and painting, with particular regard to his favourite trio, Mondrian, Rothko and Guston.  In each little segment, there is maybe one paragraph that I understand.  here he is on finishing a painting:  “Guston tells us he does not finish a painting, but “abandons it”.  At what point does he abandon it?   Is it perhaps the moment when it might become a “painting”?  After all, it’s not a “painting” that the artist really wanted…..Completion is not in tying things up, not in “giving one’s feelings” or “telling a truth”.  Completion is simply the perennial death of the artist.  Isn’t any masterpiece a death scene?  Isn’t that why we want to remember it, because the artist is looking back on something when it’s too late, when it’s all over, when we see it finally, as something we have lost?”  I think he (Feldman) is on to something, but I’m not sure I understand it fully…

guston

Guston, in abstract mode.

Borgen

I thought the episode about criminalising prostitutes’ clients in Denmark and the conflation of prostitution and trafficking was particularly good.  I was astounded to read that Hollande’s government is bringing in similar legislation.  On the characters, I like the way that Birgitte is becoming colder, harder, more pragmatic.  The only way, really, since her new party doesn’t seem to have any policies of its own; on the other hand, it’s not real, is it?

Gravity

When she splashed down, and sank, and then emerged from the capsule and began fighting her way to the surface, did you also think “Shark!” followed closely by, “No, surely they wouldn’t…?”

??????????

In Progress

Blackpaint

6.12.13

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 91

March 19, 2010

Hooray, hooray – computer seems alright today

Black

Must be the influence of Ad – I’ve started covering, or nearly covering canvas in black paint, thick, with short horizontal and vertical interwoven brushstrokes.  Unlike Ad – my purpose and focus is not as clear as his – I then add lighter colours such as ochre and white/grey.  It’s different; but is it good?

Not like this – I did this one ages ago – but like this

Apart from Reinhardt, there has been a bunch of painters who have done black paintings: Malevich of course, Franz Kline (they look like black on plain canvas, but actually black and white), Pierre Soulages, Frank Stella and Rothko – actually dark grey, but look black.  Amongst British painters, William Scott .

Henry Moore

Lovely Culture Show programme last night, with that great colour shot of the freight train travelling across the American (or maybe Canadian) prairie with a huge, knuckly Moore in two pieces, lashed onto a flatbed freightcar.  The Laura Cumming’s reference to his “knitted tie” (see Blackpaint 80) was sort of explained; he was apparently never without a tie.  There was a television DIY man in the 50s called Barry Bucknall, who always wore a collar and tie, sleeveless jumper and shirt with sleeves rolled up high – Moore reminded me of him.  Also, Michael Hordern; the absent-minded expression maybe – and, oddly, a meek Ted Hughes, if that’s not a contradiction.  Probably because they were both Yorkshiremen.

Listening to “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult – horrible words encouraging suicide, but a compelling chord sequence and hypnotic harmonies.

Blackpaint, now painting it black,

20.03.10