Posts Tagged ‘Monet’

Blackpaint 610 – French migrants, Polish exiles and the Hole in the Ceiling

November 20, 2017

The Impressionists in London (Tate Britain, until May 2018)

Strange exhibition, since a lot of these pictures – I’m not sure about the sculptures – don’t seem to be Impressionist at all.  The idea behind it is to showcase the French artists in exile in England after the fall of the Paris Commune and the massacres and oppression that followed it.  The booklet points out that there were no restrictions placed on these migrants and no quibbles over refugee or economic migrant status; apparently, there were no restrictions or limits on migration to Britain at the time – anyone could come.

There are a lot of pictures that are rather familiar from the Tate’s permanent collection; most of the Tissots and some Pissaros (Norwood, Sydenham) I’m sure have been moved downstairs.  The Tissots, for my money, are the most enjoyable but they are surely not “impressionist”, if that means passing effects of light and shade and all that; they look more like Millais, doing Singer Sargent subject matter.  The Whistler bridges and Monet’s series of Parliament in the last room, I think, are actually badly served by being all lumped together; great on their own, all together – too much.


Also of interest, the Fantin-Latour double portrait; again, not impressionistic, more like Clausen or maybe Repin.  There is  social realist picture by an Italian (didn’t get the name) of loafers on a bridge under an orange sky – and the roomful of Derains at the end is great.


Melancholia, a Sebald Variation (Inigo Rooms, Somerset House until 10th December)

The main piece in this exhibition is a 54 minute film by a Dutch artist, Guido Van der Werve.  It interweaves three elements: the first is the artist swimming, cycling and running the equivalent of three triathlons, being the distance between Chopin’s heart (in Poland) and the rest of him (in Paris).   he kicks off playing the piano in a Polish church, wearing a wet suit, while a choir sings a rather beautiful, melancholic piece.  Off he goes, into the river, and some rather beautiful but surely speeded-up film of him swimming.  He continues, at intervals, switching to bike and then running, leaving his wet suit and then bike with a waiting woman…

But I’m telling the story!  Enough.  The other elements are 1. Sites relating to Alexander the Great’s career, and 2. More musical interludes, in which orchestras are revealed playing in a house and by a canal.  Dada-ish things happen; a man walks past on fire and dives into the canal  and glass smashes, explosions happen…  It’s about exile (Chopin, Alexander) it seems; “a melancholy meditation on the theme of not being able to return home”, the booklet says.

The Dada stuff threw me for a while, since humour is not something I readily associate with WG Sebald.  And indeed, there is none elsewhere in the exhibition, which contains work by Durer (of course), George Shaw, Tess Jaray, Dexter Dalwood, Anselm Kiefer and others, as well as Sebald’s own darkened, enigmatic photograph collection.  The theme is melancholy and whether it is an “unproductive form of mourning” or a spur to creativity.

Kabakovs again (Tate Modern until 28th Jan 2018)


It occurs to me that there is a similarity between Sebald’s use of photographs etc. in his books and the Ilya Kabakov exhibit “Labyrinth (My Mother’s Album” in the current show at TM.  You walk through a series of dimly-lit rooms, with pages of a scrapbook pasted to the walls; blurry photos of pastoral scenes with memoirs of his mother in Russian and English.  At first, you try to read them but you soon give up – the light’s too dim.  It’s all about the nostalgia of the photos and the atmosphere.

Incidentally, the first time I visited this exhibition, I looked at “The Man who Flew into Space from his Apartment” and completely missed the catapult and the hole in the ceiling.  It was pretty crowded in there, but still…


Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi

I’ve more to say, but will save it for next time.  But I think that Leonardo is a Luini (as it was originally though to be).  It’s just not good enough for Leo.  Then again, great painters often do crap Christs; Veronese, for instance.  Maybe it’s some sort of cosmic dread, or maybe the Church stopped them being too human with Christ’s face.

Next time, Soviet posters, October (Eisenstein) and Walter Hopps.





Blackpaint 39

January 14, 2010


Finally got round to hanging our paintings today, half a dozen each, one pub wall each; mine are all orange-y, my partner’s are all turquoise and mauve.  Mine were all part of a series – you never know, someone might feel they ought to buy them all for the sake of completeness.  then again, it might put possible buyers off buying any of them.  I find one always indulges in these fantasies about buyers when paintings first go up; after that, the days pass quietly…

Fischli and Weiss again

Still thinking about the Tate Modern exhibit by these two;  it strikes me that it is difficult to explain the point of it.  There is a sort of tableau of a workspace, in which every mundane article has been perfectly reproduced with great skill and unusual patience – and it’s done so well that you have to be told that it’s all artificial.  So – the gallery visitor raises a smile, wonders at the ingenuity on display and appreciates the humour.  Is that it?  All of it?

The answer will be that it raises questions.  That’s how most explanations of conceptual art begin; “it raises questions about (a,b.c)” …  I’m not being sarcastic here, I think it’s good to raise questions in art, better than answering them, really.  F &W raise questions about the application of artistic skills, or craft.  Does the high level of skill and painstaking work involved in reproducing this stuff raise the finished article above the level of the mundane?  if not, then art is not necessarily about skill, patience, hard work and perfection.  Again, I’m aware that these points will have been made many times and much better elsewhere – but I’m still working through them.


Giles Brandreth was on TV last night, mentioning the theory that Turner (and Monet, apparently) suffered from cataracts and this may go some way towards explaining the particular artistic vision he showed in his later paintings.  Interesting, this line of thinking – did Picasso or de Kooning have some visual peculiarity that led them..  I’m being facetious, of course – but now I think I remember reading in Michael Peppiat’s book on Bacon that Giacometti once told him (Bacon) that people really did look “like that” to him!  We’ve got a Van Gogh repro in the toilet, and the tree trunks in it remind me of how trees looked to me the last time I took LSD (many years ago), except that they weren’t pulsing.  Maybe Van Gogh… no, it wasn’t around then – but maybe absinthe?  

Listening to Bluebird Blues, John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson.

“Now Bluebird, Bluebird, please take this letter down south for me

Now you can tell my babe that I’m up in St.Louis,

Oh, but I’m just as blue as I can be.”