Posts Tagged ‘Norman Rockwell’

Blackpaint 538 – Saul Leiter, the Easter Rising, Pasolini and Friedrich..er

March 25, 2016

Saul Leiter, Photographers Gallery

I can’t praise this exhibition too highly – I’ve been twice in two days and wanted to download every image.  It’s singular, in that the colour photos are even better than the B&W ones; how often does that happen in street photography?  He does figures seen through condensation on windows, odd cropping, red umbrellas (lots of red, yellow and black), hats, snow, ads, car windows – all the usual props, but they’re somehow better.  See below:

 

saul foot

Like a Cheever story, somehow..

 

saul canopy 2

Is that William Burroughs?

 

saul black man

He must have scouted the signs out and waited for the man in the hat and cigarette to walk into the frame..

 

saul postmen

US Mail, coming through the snow..could be by Norman Rockwell.

In addition to the street photos, there are his great fashion pictures, pictures of the beautiful (and beautifully named) Soames Bantry – watch the video of Leiter talking about her and his art, He cites Eugene E Smith and Cartier Bresson as influences and some of their pictures are included in the video.  Finally, there are his gouaches on thin paper, brightly coloured, some abstract, some little portraits and nude photos coloured in, as it were.  It’s terrific and free before 12 0’clock.

The Easter Rising

Also in the Photographers Gallery is a collection of  photos relating to the Dublin rising against British rule in April 1916 – the events leading to it and following it.  It’s a bit more than the usual formal pictures of Pearse, Connelly and the other martyrs that I remember from museums in Irish towns – the desperate crew below are purportedly the “Cairo Gang” , British military intelligence officers, who were all murdered by the IRA on 21st November 1920.  On the same Bloody Sunday, the British “Black and Tan” auxiliaries opened fire on the crowd at Croke Park stadium, killing twelve spectators, as a reprisal.

There are also photos of two of the Invincibles, who carried out the Phoenix Park murders; shades of Skin the Goat, the Invincible (it’s rumoured) who runs the cabmen’s shelter in “Ulysses”, where Bloom takes Stephen after the NightTown episode.  And plenty more – hunger strikers, countryside evictions, street ambush, Countess Markievicz posing with a revolver…

 

cairo gang

The Cairo Gang – or perhaps not.

Wikipedia says that the photo more probably shows the Igoe Gang, RIC undercover agents, who succeeded the ill-fated British agents.

Friedrich Vordemberge – Gildewart ( Annely Juda Fine Art, Dering Street W1)

Yes I know, I can’t get the name into my head either – and the exhibition’s finished now anyway.  But the paintings and collages are great.  He was a member of de Stijl and the pictures remind me a little of Malevich, a little of Van Doesburg and one or two are like Prunella Clough.  Oh, and maybe a touch of Oiticica.  Little lopsided squares and wedges of colour, thin lines like spills tipped out on grey or blue or yellow.

fred

 

fred2

Here’s my partner, putting her image into a picture in a homage to the techniques of Saul Leiter, no doubt.

Pasolini

I’ve recently watched the DVDs of the Decameron and Oedipus Rex and, as well as Silvana Mangano and the brilliant thug Franco Citti, I noticed that Pasolini himself appeared in both, as the painter in Decameron and in Oedipus.  I’ll be checking on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew over Easter, to see if he shows in that too.

franco citti

Franco Citti (Oedipus)

Pier-Paolo-Pasolini

Pasolini as Giotto

And my latest painting:

St.Jerome 2

Jerome

Blackpaint

24.3.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 231

December 16, 2010

Norman Rockwell

Wrote about him in last-but-one blog (Blackpaint 229) and now I hear there is an exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, on now.  I compared him to the Soviet Socialist Realists, in regard to his presentation of American life – fine and dandy, the American Dream – just as the communists portrayed life in the Soviet Union.  Jonathan Jones in the Guardian, however, recalls his 1964 painting of the black girl Ruby Bridges, going to her school, defying the rotten vegetables thrown at her by southern whites opposed to desegregation.  So I was being a little unfair to Rockwell; the Dulwich show leaves this picture out, according to Jones, and sticks to the conservative stuff prior to 1964.  In these Evening Post covers, American life is shown in a glowing, nostalgic light.

Doris Seidler

She has died in the US, aged 97.  Never heard of her until I read the Guardian obituary and saw that beautiful, rectangular, black, ochre and grey collage entitled “Comp with Etched Fragment”, they used to illustrate it.  Its a shame to find out about these artists only when they die.  Not much on the web, either.

Sandra Blow

On the other hand, there are several great paintings by the above, if one goes to Google images.  Right in the middle of page 4, however, there is an interesting image that has nothing to do with the artist, but clearly relates to her surname; there are more throughout the rest of the entry.   Lovers of abstract art should not be deterred by this.

Tate Britain rehang

Some of the rooms have been reorganised on chronological lines.  In the Sickert “end of the pier” room, there is one of the geometric Bombergs entitled “Ju Jitsu” – can make out the interaction of the fighters, but not what the moves are.  There is a nude Spencer on a bed with his nude wife and a joint of lamb, I think – could be beef, though.  Also, his remarkable “Woolshop”, in which the hanks of wool seem to intertwine with the women’s hair.   There is a four panel Eileen Agar, shades of Miro a bit, something to do with the development of an embryo; and a lovely Tunnard, mustard yellow, geometric, entitled “Fulcrum”.  Finally, a picture by Winifred Knights, called “Deluge”, in which women and girls are doing some sort of slanting eurythmic dance.  All vthese pictures are very distinct from each other, the beauty and drawback of a chronological approach.

A large Keith Vaughan in the next room attracts the attention; There’s a reclining and a standing figure, rather featureless and flabby pink – it’s Theseus and the Minotaur, although can’t see it myself.  Not a patch on his de Stael – type pictures.  There’s an Alan Davie, “Black Mirror”, in which the brushwork is very like Bacon’s, say, on his black ones with writhing figures and metal rails; a Hockney pyramid and giant palm in front of it; and a beautiful Auerbach building site in jewel-encrusted orange.  There’s a Heron, one of those in which he uses straight white lines to delineate figures and a Bacon dog, a little, fizzing grey ball of energy, in a frame of course.

Blake

Adjoining these rooms, there is a Blake room, with Nebuchadnezzar crawling, Newton measuring and the Good and Bad Angels, all instantly recognisable and fantastic (in every sense).  There are also several paintings that formed illustrations for Dante’s “Divine Comedy”.  Plutus, the guardian and tormentor of those who have committed sins of avarice, has distinctly Jewish features says the label – although I must say, I couldn’t make this out clearly.  Apparently Blake had an interest in phrenology, which was fashionable at the time.  Thieves are being tormented by snakes, one of which appears to be emanating from a woman’s vagina (this is not just me; the label points it out) – a reminder of Michelangelo’s linkage of snakes and sexuality on the Sistine wall.  There is Brunelleschi being tormented by a 6 footed serpent and a barrator (political power broker) having his skin torn off in lumps; all good stuff – but dodgy on the phrenology front.

Blackpaint

16.12.10

 

 

Blackpaint 229

December 9, 2010

Art and Propaganda

Wrote about this some time back (see Blackpaint 26, Jan 2010), but I really only mentioned Spanish Republican posters (Miro) and Socialist Realism (workers living in and loving an idealised Soviet Union).  I also mentioned Nazi art, statuary and paintings and posters, which are strikingly similar to Socialist Realism and demonstrate the convergence of approach under totalitarian regimes.

Abstract Expressionism

I didn’t discuss the way the US government used the AbExes to publicise the cause of free enterprise and democracy.  Ironically, since Ab Ex was widely regarded as nonsensical in the West, abstract art was championed as evidence of individualistic freedom by the Congress for Cultural Freedom (a CIA front organisation).  It put on a series of exhibitions in West Germany, starting in 1945, and taking place every few years, under the title “Documenta”.  I’m not sure how much  the individual painters, initially Motherwell, Pollock, Calder and the critic Greenburg, were aware of the way they were being used; will look into that.

The huge irony is that the Socialist Realist style would probably chime much more with the tastes of the “masses” in the capitalist world than the efforts of the abstractionists, which they rejected and ridiculed in large part as incomprehensible.  Indeed, there is a strong Socialist – Realist resemblance in the work of Norman Rockwell, the popular American painter – tables weighed down by big Thanksgiving turkeys, shining-faced, healthy kids, kindly shopkeepers, postmen, policemen, etc.,etc.

Shigeko Kubota

I wonder what the American public would have made of the above Fluxus artist, who in 1965 attached a brush to her crotch and ,crouched above a sheet of paper, swung it about loaded with red paint, to create her “Vagina Painting”, thereby “dismantling the seemingly never-ending mythology of Pollock’s virile painting performances with a single, scandalous gesture” (chapter on Fluxus, “Art since 1900”, Thames and Hudson 2004).

Unfortunately, the book doesn’t show the painting, only an interesting photo of Kubota producing it.  However, I doubt that she achieved the beautiful results that Pollock did.  He argued, reasonably, that his drip method allowed for the intervention of an element of chance in his otherwise rather controlled,  or at least guided works.  Apart from the rather misguided statement “I am Nature” – maybe he was joking; don’t know the context –  I’ve found his remarks on his work really straightforward, sensible and informative.  Rather like Francis Bacon (although Bacon often twisted the truth somewhat) and unlike, say, Rothko. 

And his nickname – Jack the Dripper – though meant unkindly, has to be the best painter’s nickname.  Better, even, than Blackpaint.

Quiz

Which playwright did Sutherland paint, seated in front of a yellow wall ( playwright, not Sutherland(?

Blackpaint

10.12.10