Posts Tagged ‘Moholy-Nagy’

Blackpaint 621 – Abstract All the Way, Today – apart from Two Deers and Picasso

June 9, 2018

The Shape of Light, Tate Modern

An exhibition which explores the way abstract painting and abstract photography have interacted since, I guess, the teens and twenties of the last century up to today.  Consequently, it’s both huge and incomplete.  Some examples below:

 

 

 

 

I didn’t note who the painters and photographers were, but the usual suspects were there – Van Duisberg, Moholy-Nagy, Arp, Kandinsky, Brassai, Man Ray and so on.  I liked Siskind’s scratched brickwork and blistered paint and the views from the top of buildings down stairways of Moholy-Nagy.

Later sections with work by Bridget Riley et al.  Lots of rooms, lots of work and my usual problem with numerous monochrome abstract photos – the skidding eye…

 

Ed Kienholz, America My Hometown, at Blain/Southern (Hanover Square) until 14th July

Like Rauschenburg, sometimes, without the paint swatches mostly, and with a rougher sense of humour.  The exhibition “traces Kienholz’s formative years (1954 – 1967)” says the sheet.

The Little Eagle Rock Incident (1958)

 

The Nativity (1961)

A Gift for a Baby (1962)

The American Way, II (1960)

Kienholz, once resident in the back of the legendary Ferus Gallery, and an associate of Walter Hopps (read Hopps’ memoir as an antidote to the usual art BS), drove a pick up truck with “Expert” blazoned on the side, got his material from scrapyards, made scandalous tableaux (“Hoerengracht” for instance) and was buried – when dead, of course –  in his car.  Fabulous stuff.  See also the film “The Cool School”, about Kienholz, Hoppe, Irving Blum and the Ferus Gallery.

Downstairs at Blain/Southern is Erika Nissinen, a Finnish artist whose work is not easily describable, but is grotesque, funny and requires a visit.

Transcendental Accidents (The Aalto Natives) 2017-18

 

Surface Work – Women Artists at Victoria Miro Mayfair until 16th June – so hurry.

The sheet describes this as an “international, cross-generational exhibition” which is “a celebration of women artists who have shaped and transformed…..the language and definition of abstract painting.”  Others on show include Krasner, Hedda Sterne, Agnes Martin, Lygia Clark. Prunella Clough and loads more.  The Frankenthaler and the Thomas are not typical – there is Constructivist, minimalist, and geometric pieces too.

Helen Frankenthaler – Winter Figure with Black Overhead (1959)

Alma Thomas – Untitled (1961)

Picasso 1932, Tate Modern – yet again + stages of Guernica

I’ve been again, and I thought it might be worth mentioning that there is only one of the 1932 paintings, as far as I can see – or maybe one and a half – in which the central image is not defined by a heavy black or dark line.  No doubt this is because he wanted to establish the image ASAP, fix it so to speak, and get on with the next image looming up in his brain – who knows?  Anyway, it’s this one:

Sorry, rather fuzzy image.

I’ve just been looking at “Dora Maar, with and without Picasso” by Mary Ann Caws (Thames and Hudson, 2000).  In it is a series of photos of the stages of “Guernica”.  I was interested to see that Picasso originally had a long, muscular, worker-victim’s arm with clenched fist, thrusting straight up, slightly left of centre, where the screaming horse’s head is now.  The horse is arguably the most memorable feature of the painting, so he made the right decision.  With the fist, the painting would have been corny propaganda, like those awful peace things he did in the 50’s, with flute-playing rustics wandering about.  It’s still propaganda, but great.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer, dir. Yorgos Lanthimos (2017)

More epater les bourgeois, like The Square – but horrible.  It contains a sequence in which Colin Farrell, blindfolded, spins with a rifle in the midst of his bound and gagged family, and fires randomly…

The set-up of the plot strangely echoes that of the recent ITV serial “Trauma”, with Adrian Lester as a surgeon who is harried by the father of a youth he has operated on, but who died in surgery.  The father discovers the surgeon had been drinking.  In this film, the pursuer is son not father, but in other respects, oddly similar.  Supposedly “venomously funny”, according to the Telegraph.

 

Ghost Geese fly West

Blackpaint

09.06.18

 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 478 – Just a Quick One

January 15, 2015

Slate Projects; Demimonde at 17 Thurloe Place, opposite V&A

Great exhibition in a derelict house (once Margot Fonteyn’s); the paintings and sculptures hang and lurk amongst bare plaster and boards, baths, sinks and toilets, rickety staircases and holes in the walls.  There are abominable snowmen, lifesize figures in some lead- like material with heads encased in Monopoly boards and more conventional painting, examples below.  I like the big ones by James Collins and the slightly Chantal Joffe-ish one below (didn’t get the artist’s name).  It’s only on until the 18th January and it’s free, so must be seen.  The venue is unheated, so gloves and woolly hat required.

james collins

James Collins

slate unknown

 

Demimonde, ??? is this your picture??? 

Adventures of the Black Square, Whitechapel Gallery

I was lucky enough to get a ticket to the private view for this survey of geometric abstraction 1915 – present and so was able to see the works in the context of their natural Fellini-esque audience.  Several retro figures who looked to have arrived from the set of la Dolce Vita, with accents to boot.  Favourites as follows:

Clay Ketter

The wall cracks are photographic, not actual.  Like the last standing wall of a demolished house, with the “ghosts ” of rooms, doors, joists left sketched on it.

Sophie Tauber-Arp

Love that blue – it’s a tapestry, by the way.

tauber arp

Ivan Kliun

Associate of Malevich, obviously.

Jenny Holzer

A touch of Oiticica (who is also here).

holzer

Liu Wei

Like a gigantic barcode, in red and turquoise.

Loads of delicious stuff, and assistants patrolling about wearing giant circular and triangular mirrors.  Famous names: Oroszco, Palermo, Alys, el Lissitsky,  Trockel, Pape, Clark, Moholy -Nagy, Malevich (of course) and plenty of others.  Now, what is needed is a parallel exhibition of expressionist abstraction.

The Poetry of John Cooper Clarke – Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt

It’s up there with Ginsburg, Auden and Plath.  Although Cooper Clarke lacks the unique perspective on nature of  Ted Hughes or the erudition (and casual anti-semitism) of Eliot, he has his own kingdom of the urban back-street:

The fucking pies are fucking old

the fucking chips are fucking cold

the fucking beer is fucking flat

the fucking flats have fucking rats

the fucking clocks are fucking wrong

the fucking days are fucking long

it fucking  gets you fucking down

evidently chicken town

With beautiful illustrations by Steve Maguire, Vintage pbk, £7.99.

Three liquitex on card life drawings to finish:

 

watercolour6

watercolour11

watercolour10

Blackpaint

15.01.15

 

Blackpaint 394 – Lizards and Fossils and Christopher in Cordoba

May 16, 2013

Ellen Gallagher at  Tate Modern

This got a rather sniffy review from Laura Cumming in the Observer; she found Gallagher’s frequent use of cut outs of thick African lips and “googly” eyes repetitive.  Not like loads of other artists then, who rarely repeat a trick.  There’s a lot of social and political content to her work, as you may guess from the foregoing, but I was most impressed not by the meaning but by the look of it.

She has several works made up of the lips and eyes on a parchment-like support, thick lined paper I think, and from a slight distance they look like walls of tiny bricks – reminded me of Rachel Whiteread drawings.

Others, huge canvases or linens, looked like Victor Pasmores – one plain canvas with a lizard shape writhing on it; another, with several black or inky blocks off-centre.

There were the series of yellow “wigs” on magazine ads, the faces with eyes cut out and the huge black paintings, coated with rubber.  The last room had the delicate “botanical” drawings and the embossed “fossils”, made, presumably, by pressing the image and sometimes shaving tiny leaves of the paper up with a sharp blade.  The best ones were the “Pasmores” – I ignored the deeper meanings and looked at them as if they were abstracts.  Go see it and read the booklet for the politics.

gallagher

Saloua Raouda Choucair at Tate Modern

Lebanese woman, now in her 90s, went to Paris and studied with Leger.  First thing is that the paintings are very small, maybe 18″*24″, that sort of order.  They are very colourful, semi-or completely abstract, many consisting of interlocking, or overlapping, or fitting geometric shapes.  One beautiful, singing, blue one looks very much like a Helion – th influence of Leger and of Picasso is evident in the figures.

The sculptures are mainly interlocking ceramic or polished wood structures; again, quite small; I think some are maquettes.  There are several structures made from thin wires on frames that are just like pieces by Moholy-Nagy and Gabo – since neither of these artists are mentioned anywhere in the written material on the exhibition, I have to assume that she arrived at them independently.

So – a great double at the TM; the Gallagher has much more content but the Choucair makes fewer demands on the intellect.  mind you, you could do what I did and just wander round looking; then read up later.

choucair

Seville and Cordoba

Just back after four days in blinding sunlight and 30 Cent heat – well, hot for us English.  Went to see the Zurbarans in Seville and I was surprised that they were rather mundane compared to the ones in the British Museum.  the art that impressed me most was a fabulous Madonna and child (or rather,  little man) in the Alcazar there.  I don’t think it was Spanish however – looked early Italian to me.

In the cathedral at Cordoba – the one with the hundreds of receding Islamic arches in red and white – there was a huge, dark Saint Christopher painting, half-concealed by a column, that could have been Gulliver, or maybe that picture on the cover of the Pelican edition of Hobbes’ Leviathan.  Plus the usual super realist crucifixions, still rendered in wood for modern catholic churches, I was surprised (a bit) to find.

At one point, I surveyed the cathedral from a central point and I’m convinced that the entire tourist population, apart from me, was taking one photograph after another, to be looked at later.  One old man in the museum just trudged from one painting to the next, snapping it and then getting a shot of the label.  he never looked at anything except through the camera.

In the Mood for Love

Wong Kar Wei.  saw this on TV the other night, and I loved it, without knowing quite why – maybe that violin theme, the rain, the scabby walls, the tension of unexpressed yearning, the stylish smoking – but no, it had to be the dresses and the coiffure.  she just spent the whole film swaying up and down narrow stairs, streets and corridors in those tight, high collared dresses.  Very watchable, considering no sex – overt, anyway.

??????????

Threshold

Blackpaint

16.5.13

Blackpaint 187

September 5, 2010

Tate St.Ives, “Grid”

The last part of this exhibition (see Blackpaint 185/6) is the minimalist bit; an area of stillness after the surfacy excitement of “Gesture” (going for Pseud’s Corner here; never know your luck).

De Stael

“Marathon”.  A surprise to find him here; I think his pictures usually fit more with the stuff next door.  Anyway, not a good one, boring for such a giant.  Blacks and greys and beige, a sort of spray of linear marks from the centre – looked like a collage on black felt.

Carl Andre

The zinc and steel plain squares, like a deficient chess board – 36, I think – which you step on accidentally and jump back, then realise you are allowed.

Naum Gabo 

A typical Gabo structure, maybe 2 ft by 2ft, delicate white thread shrouds around a central rectangle.

Mary Martin

A wall plaque with shiny metal pointed shapes studding it or stuck on.  Usually to be seen at Tate Modern.

Donald Judd

One of his signature “ladders” of flat, square, metallic platforms going up the wall.

Ryman

A completely white rectangle; this one had narrow white tape around its perimeter, securing it to the aluminium frame. 

Ben Nicolson

A small, interlocking collection of blocks, all white.

Eva Hesse

A piece of graph paper, with a central rectangle made by Hesse drawing a circle within each square and filling in the outside edges.  Since this could not be done “perfectly” – there would always be a touch of human inexactitude – this created a wobbly effect, setting up a tension with the perfection of the grid squares; or so the label said.

I was unaware of this minimalist aspect of Hesse’s work, knowing only the Riopolle-like pictures reproduced in the “Gestural Painting” book and the haunting suspended blocks clothed in linen.  Not keen on this.

Moholy – Nagy

A beautiful white and grey painting with black and red squares and lines, very Nicolsonish, that was in the Van Doesburg exhibition, I think.  No wrong, just checked  the catalogue.  Must have been in the fantastic MN/Albers exhibition at TM a couple of years ago.

Mondrian

Now, I’m sure this was in the Van Doesburg; the squares painting with grey instead of the more characteristic white.  From 1920, if I’m right.

Morellet

Never before heard of this artist.  Interlocking shapes like crosses and T shapes on the side with a line at both ends, on white.  Creates a wobbly effect, a bit like Oiticica.

There was also an Albers and a Sol LeWitt, but took no notes on them – sorry, chaps. And a “Black painting” by …….

Safe to say, I preferred the gesturals next door; but who knows, maybe I’ll suddenly get it and be converted.

Barbara Hepworth’s House

I wrote about this in last blog.  I hadn’t remembered that she died in a fire in her studio.  Some of her stuff is so like Moore’s – who copied whom, I wonder – and Gabo, the holes and strings.  I was reminded too of the great story in John Bird’s book about the St. Ives lot, where Terry Frost or maybe Dennis Mitchell, doing some menial labouring for Hepworth, were locked in a conservatory by her while she showed  round some bigwigs.  Frost, or Mitchell, was taken short and had to piss in a pot which leaked out under the door and between the feet of Hepworth and her party; They all pretended not to notice.

Listening to White Lightning, Waylon Jennings.

“A city slicker came and he said “I’m tough;

“Guess I’d like to try some of that mountain stuff”,

He took him a sip and then he drunk it right down,

And I heard him say before he hit the ground,

“Mighty, mighty pleasin’, your Daddy’s corn squeezin’s”,

Ooooorgh – White Lightnin’!” 

An old one.

Blackpaint

05.09.10