Posts Tagged ‘Michael Winterbottom’

Blackpaint 521- Mediating Between Nothingness and Being; Calder and Giacometti

November 23, 2015

Alexander Calder, Performing Sculpture,  Tate Modern

This is one of those exhibitions that you go round with a smile on your face; probably childhood associations with mobiles or, if you’re a mature adult like me, with kites and novelty items on top of the TV.  His portraits are staggeringly good, done as they are with a few lengths of wire; if you go underneath them and look up, you can see how well they work, even from below.  I loved the fish in the wire tank, too.

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Some of the works were like models of Picabia dream machines (although none of them seemed to be working when we were there;  the aerial mobiles, assembled from wire and coloured metal discs, reminded me of Chinese dragon creatures, lobsters and, oddly, of tapeworms – the segmented bodies, I suppose.  Reminders of Picasso everywhere, of course.

Antennae with Red and Blue Dots 1960 Alexander Calder 1898-1976 Purchased 1962 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T00541

It’s a pleasing exhibition, but ultimately lightweight (sorry); I think Calder’s work is better seen with the work of his contemporaries, to add variety – but then, you could say that for rather a lot of artists.

Giacometti, Pure Presence, National Portrait Gallery

Rather a small exhibition to weigh in at sixteen quid odd, I thought ; we had a two-for-one from Cass Arts that eased the pain.

The title comes from something Sartre wrote; it refers to Giacometti’s practice of putting the subject right in the middle of his drawings and keeping any background confined to  a few sketchy lines, a chair or door, say, floating and fading in a corner.

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Sartre also describes Giacometti as constantly “mediating between nothingness and being”.  Not sure what he means by this; it could apply to just about any artist.  I suppose it’s something to do with this faintness of background – and with the sculptures, the rough,  finger-and thumb-worked nature of the clay from which the perfect little heads and faces emerge.  They were kneaded into being, Sartre is saying (maybe): they could just as easily be kneaded out of being.

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There is a film from 1967 of Giacometti working, with a commentary by David Sylvester.  Sylvester observes that, in the sculptures,  his women are all motionless, standing straight-legged (where they have legs) bolt upright, receiving the gaze of the sculptor and returning it impassively.  The men, however, like Giacometti himself, are “striving” – perhaps he said “striding” – restlessly.  This can’t be observed in the current exhibition, however, since only one sculpture, I think, has legs; it’s a woman, in that characteristic “one-legged” stance.

The paintings, all in that muddy ochre/grey/black/orange palette, are really drawings; thin, whippy, B&W lines delineate the figures and faces, which often have a grey-black “wash” across them.  Sylvester says that many of the sculptural portraits seem to resemble Giacometti himself; other lookalikes for me are General de Gaulle and the Queen, when she was young.

Here’s the sacrilege: I thought this exhibition was also lightweight.  The drawings looked tricksy somehow, and I missed the striders and the bigger sculptures  (I suppose because this IS the NPG, and the striders aren’t portraits).  Seen Giacometti displayed much better in,say, Louisiana near Copenhagen.

24 Hour Party People, Michael Winterbottom (2002)

Watched this brilliant film in which Steve Coogan plays Tony Wilson, the Manchester – based impresario, except that “impresario” isn’t at all the right word…club owner, record producer, visionary, idealist, loser –  the Manchester -based Tony Wilson is the best description, maybe.  Is it really true that Ian Curtis hanged himself while Werner Herzog’s “Strozzeck” was on the telly and, if so, was there some connection between the two events?

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Falling Man

 

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Black Work in Progress

Blackpaint

23.11.15

 

 

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Blackpaint 476 – Blackpaint’s Best and Worst Films 2014

December 31, 2014

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Best Films and DVDs

Exhibition,  Joanna Hogg

Both Viv Albertine and Liam Gillick are great in this third brilliant film by Joanna Hogg (the other two being Archipelago and Unrelated), this one focusing  on two practising artists living in a designer house somewhere in Kensington, I think.  It’s funny and touching; I love the pretentious and yet stilted way they talk to each other about art; self importance, coupled with inarticulacy – reminds me of my partner and I.

Leviathan, Paravel and Castaing – Taylor

This is the documentary about deep-sea fishing from an American trawler (?) in the North Atlantic; staggering shots from above and BELOW the water – no clearly audible dialogue, mostly at night; hypnotic.

Leviathan, Zvyagintsev

Russian Barents Sea coast; municipal gangsterism and corruption, allied to the Russian Orthodox church, prodigious vodka, cigarette and herring consumption, firearms, violence, pathos and whale skeletons.

The Travelling Players, Angelopoulos

Classic Greek film; a travelling theatre group steer a precarious journey through the years of WW2, the British intervention and the ensuing civil war.  Operatic; fantastic.

A Separation, Farhadi

Enthralling Iranian film, concerning an urban middle-class couple, their crumbling marriage and the daughter in the middle.  Sounds unpromising – watched it twice (on Film4).

Inside Llewyn Davis, Coens

The film inspired by Dave Van Ronk – very loosely – downbeat, very funny, surprisingly good “folk” music; the only problem for me was a cameo from John Goodman, doing one of his huge, threatening eccentrics, for no apparent reason.  My friends in the Pretentious Marxist Book Group thought it was crap because it didn’t explore the political dimension of the 60s US folk boom – fortunately, in my view.

The Great Beauty, Sorrentino

Saw it on DVD; features Tony Servillo, which puts it up there immediately; features old men dancing in an embarrassing manner, a frequent Sorrentino trope.  Obvious homage to Fellini and none the worse for that.

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Worst Films

Julia’s Eyes, Del Toro

Dialogue and situations seem OK in Spanish, but the subtitles demonstrate how ridiculous and cliched they are; the eyeball horror doesn’t carry it.

The Killer Inside Me, Winterbottom

This is actually a well- acted and directed film, but the violence perpetrated on the women in it is horrible and unwatchable.  The ending is ridiculous.

Two Days, One Night, the Dardennes

Not a terrible film (Marion Cotillard is great), but a disappointment and not the masterpiece that the Guardian and Observer critics sat.  The problem is that there is no story arc – you know she has to visit a bunch of her work mates over a weekend and try to persuade them to vote for her reinstatement instead of their bonuses.  Straight away, you are thinking – or rather, I was thinking – “one down, twelve more houses to go”.  It looked like a telly film too.  still, the politics were right on….

Mr. Turner, Mike Leigh

Again, not terrible by any means – but a disappointment.  Too Dickens-y, especially his estranged partner, who keeps popping up with her (and his) daughters, demanding quite reasonably, some support from the artist.  Famous artists et al introduce each other to each other, famous incidents come along like buses, as they tend to do in biopics.  It looks brilliant sometimes – the Temeraire boat trip, for instance – and Spall is great, but I think Leigh’s other historical film, “Topsy Turvy” is far better.

Happy New Year.

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Life Drawings

Blackpaint, 31.12.14