Posts Tagged ‘Martin Amis’

Blackpaint 485 – Question Time, Comedy in Auschwitz and Late de Kooning

March 8, 2015

 

fred and ginger swing time

Question Time (BBC1)

I try to avoid watching this as it makes me shout at the TV – Thursday night, through sheer idleness, I sat through it (couldn’t be bothered to pick up the remote) and, sure enough, was forced to comment, despite my fatigue.  It was from Glasgow and the audience was full of Scots Nats and Tories (?).  Taking their lead from the Scots Nat MSP on the panel, the questioners seemed angry, self -righteous and proudly possessed of a deep sense of grievance.  It was interesting to hear the Tory woman and Toby Young cheered loudly and the Labour woman jeered; strange, since the SNP and their followers claim to be far left of  Labour.

I was in favour of Scottish independence and probably closer to the SNP than Labour on most policies – but on last night’s showing, the SNP and their supporters are way to the left of British voters as a whole, and shaping up to dictate terms, in the event of Labour needing their support to form a government.  That could be a disaster for Labour and so I was all in favour of Ed Miliband declaring that, like the Tories, he would refuse to enter any form of pact or coalition with the SNP.  Then, Toby Young said that he should make such a declaration, and I changed my mind; Ed should avoid doing anything right-wing Tories like Young suggest.

Martin Amis, Zone of Interest

I was astounded by an article on Amis’ novel, which was about the fact that it’s going to be published in Germany – the paper said that the Germans had shied away from publishing a “comedy” set in an extermination camp.  Comedy?  In what sense?  Only in the sense of the Divine Comedy, maybe; it’s the Inferno.  I certainly don’t remember any laughs, or even wry smiles; only some unease at the process of using factual material like this to frame a plot.  I think Amis has done a good job on the whole though; wonder if he thinks of his work as a comedy…

 

Cross of Iron, Sam Peckinpah (1977)

Had to watch this again the other night; I love the stereotypes – tough and tender James Coburn as Steiner, correct, avuncular CO James Mason and especially chain-smoking, stooping, cynical, anti-Nazi scruff David Warner.  I love the balletic, slow motion skyward leaps of the soldiers blown up by artillery (cf. the Wild Bunch).  And Maximilian Schell as the cowardly Prussian officer who wants the cross so badly – watching him trying to be nonchalant in the dugout, as shells stalk nearer and nearer – suddenly, that fear-frozen smile brought back Peter Sellers as the mad Nazi in Doctor Strangelove…

cross of iron1

 

 

cross of iron2

 

De Kooning 

Reading Judith Zilczer’s book, I was surprised to find that DK’s famous “emptying out” of his paintings in the late 70s/ early 80s was partly because he was worried about the durability of his earlier work, as a result of his use of safflower oil and household emulsion mixes.  Some critic had predicted that they would degenerate, so he changed his materials and his style, which became more like his stuff from the early years, like “Pink Angels”.  Later. of course, they emptied out more….

dkwoman

 

 

Woman I, 1950-2

dkpirate

 

 

Pirate, 1981 

Still haven’t done any new paintings, so a few old ones to finish:

Blue Crouch

 

Blue Crouch

water engine 2a

 

Water Engine 2

??????????

 

White Line Fever 

Blackpaint

8.03.15

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Blackpaint 463 – Awkward English Painters, Campion and Amis

September 30, 2014

The Later Turner, Tate Britain

Well, all the usual suspects are there; the Slave Ship, Sea Monsters, Burial at Sea, Steam Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth,  Parliament burning,  Rain Steam and Speed, Exile and the Limpet, the whaling pictures – and some of the most hideous gold frames you could imagine.  Apart from those paintings listed, the sketches of Venice and elsewhere in Italy and Switzerland are, of course, fantastic.  Maybe I’m Turnered out, though; I’ll go again this week and see if there’s anything new to say.

turner

 

Storm at Sea; Steam Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth  

Sickert and Bomberg on BBC4

Two great programmes (I missed the one on Paul Nash).  The Sickert one showed direct lines back to Degas and TL, and forward to Auerbach and even Bacon (the self-portrait).  The paintings from photographs – Edward VIII and the Italian Count (didn’t get the name) after the conference – were linked by Andrew Graham – Dixon to Warhol.  This was not such a radical idea; I came across the suggestion in Robert Hughes’ “Nothing if not Critical” the next day.

sickert1

The Bomberg prog did justice to the variety of his styles during his career and showed how his “Sappers” painting – is it still on exhibition in Tate Modern? – was based on the Caravaggio Crucufixion of St.Peter.  There’s an exhibition of Dorothy Mead, one of his best disciples, on in London at the moment.

bomberg sappers

 Bomberg, Sappers Under Hill 60

caravaggio st peter

 Caravaggio, Crucifixion of St.Peter 

Portrait of a Lady, Jane Campion

Watched a DVD of this film starring Kidman and Malkovich, and I was astounded to see a sequence in sepia straight out of Fellini – like “The Ship Sailed On”.  Moments later, it turned into Bunuel, when a plateful of ravioli pockets, I think, developed mouths and started speaking to Kidman.  Then it was gone and we were back to relative naturalism.

Zone of Interest, Martin Amis

This is the first Martin Amis I’ve read; it is gripping, and Amis has done the research on Auschwitz and the Holocaust that the subject requires.  He does, however, use the camps as the setting for a story about the commandant and his wife; not sure about this.  Maybe the only story should be the story OF the camps. He has a Jewish girl point at herself before her murder and say “Eighteen years old”.  I came across the source of this in “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”, in the evidence of a German civilian who saw the incident at a massacre by an einsatzgruppe at Dubno in Ukraine, not in Auschwitz.  She was 23, not eighteen.  Still, there’s a good essay by Amis at the end and I don’t think it insults the memory of the victims.  Probably more on this next blog.

 

crete5

Cretan Plants (a Figurative Interlude)

Blackpaint

30.09.14