Posts Tagged ‘Pierre Bonnard’

Blackpaint 511 – Pollock, Fury and One-Note Plinky

September 14, 2015

Jackson Pollock, Blind Spots (Tate Liverpool)

This is a great little exhibition – about fifty pictures? – mostly from 1951 – 55, when his best stuff was supposed to have been done and decline set in.  There are a few drip paintings from 1947-9, by way of context; staggering delicacy and intricacy in the twining of the coloured skeins, rendering laughable the comment in the Telegraph Review section that there is “more to Pollock than flinging paint violently onto canvas”, as if that is what he had ever done.

The large drip painting, although beautiful, does remind you (or me, anyway)of a Formica table top from the fifties.  It’s the size, shape and the continuation of the pattern on the edges (because he did them on unprimed canvas on the floor and stretched them on supports afterwards).

Some favourites below:

pollock no 8 1952  

No.8, 1952

This one strongly reminiscent of Asger Jorn – I’m thinking “Letter to my Son” (Tate Modern).  It’s the little heads swimming about.

pollock no14 1951

No.14, 1951

Is that a chameleon, stepping through the undergrowth? Probably not…


Pollock no 12 1952

No.12, 1952

The big colourful one that Frank O’ Hara called a great “gigolo of a picture”.

As well as Jorn, you can see Picasso here and there.  There are a couple of sets of prints, which I think  conflict a little with Pollock’s spontaneous ethic; not just a driven genius then, a bit of business acumen there.  A bit like De Kooning, deciding to “harvest” the newspaper sheets he placed on his paintings in the 60s, to keep the paint from drying too quickly; shift them a little to smear the image and you have a “Monoprint” that can be signed and sold, instead of chucked away.

Constellations, Tate Liverpool

The paintings in this collection are arranged in “constellations”, which ignore chronology and geography and bounce off each other in some not always apparent fashion.  Fine, if you know plenty already but not helpful if you want a more art-historical approach.  I realise this sounds like the eternally carping Jonathan Jones, but in this respect, he has a point.  Some highlights below:

gaudier brjeska

Henri Gaudier Brjeska


dieter roth

Dieter Roth – I think it goes this way round.


bonnard window

Pierre Bonnard


Michelangelo Pistoletto

What’s she feeling for there?  Rather like my partner’s side of the bed.

Billy Fury

billy fury

Superb statue, by Tom Murphy,  of the great singer on the Albert Dock; the stance and the profile are perfect – I missed that lop-sided sneer/smile he used to do, though.  “So near, yet so far away”..

Carver and Kidman 

A very tenuous connection – rather like Constellations – here: I’d just been reading the Raymond Carver story about the boy who is run over on his birthday and slips into a coma, when Nicole appeared on TV in a film called “Rabbit Hole” – in which her son has been run over, chasing his dog across a road.  The film is actually about his parents “coming to terms” and it employs that awful, universal, plink-plunk sequence of slow, single piano notes to signify melancholy – I think I’ve actually heard it in news bulletins, behind “special reports” by journalists “on the spot”.  Thank goodness for the likes of Carver and Cheever and Wolff ; you couldn’t do one-note plinky behind films of their stories (I can think of three, “the Swimmer”, “Short Cuts” and “Jindabyne”).

Jodorowsky, Santa Sangre

Mexico, circus, clowns, knife-throwers, women wrestlers, ecstatic religion… arms chopped off, throats cut, murder by throwing knife and samurai sword, acid flung on genitals…the funeral of an elephant, the resurrection of a host of murdered “brides”…and it manages to be sentimental too, with an accompaniment of emotive Mexican song.  Possibly some one-note plinky, even.

sidelined WIP

Work in “Progress”






Blackpaint 214

November 2, 2010


I’ve been looking at this artist in some detail and I’m staggered by some of the paintings.  That Phaidon book – at first, the illustrations look a bit lifeless, bit brownish; not the sparkling, pure colours you know the originals have.  But having looked a little harder and deeper, I’ve seen the light, as it were.

First, “Nude, right leg raised”.  A view along model’s bent body, slightly angled away from the painter – think I’ve only seen such a view in a Degas, probably ballet dancer.  Maybe a little like a Diebenkorn figure.

“Street scene, Place Clichy”, 1895, with its creamy yellow against brown and black, reminding me of that Jack Yeats picture from a Dublin bus or tram – the one that was on the cover of the Penguin “At-Swim-Two-Birds”.

“The Garden” (1936), looks like an abstract at first; could go any way round on the wall, until you see the pigeons on the path.

Then there are the various shimmering views through windows and doorways, the increasing flatness of the picture plane and the table-tops tilting towards the viewer in the Cezanne manner.  One of the clearest examples is “Getting out of the Bath”, with the tilted lino pattern and the table legs.  Then, the “Dining Room Overlooking the Garden”, with the sketchy, ghost-like figure of Marthe scarcely noticeable to the left of the french windows, and the staggering “Decoration at Vernon”, another pass-for-abstract, with its oranges and pinks.

Finally, for now, the late “Studio and Mimosa”, the latter burning bright yellow beyond the orange marmalade window frame.  Just fantastic, with that innerburning light you get with Van Gogh and Joan Mitchell.  Sorry about the superlatives, but altogether justified in this case.

Van Gogh

Also got the Taschen double on the above with the complete paintings (or at least, 83% of them!  Some are lost, like the one of the painter in his straw hat with the easel under his arm, that Francis Bacon used; lost in WW2).

The early ones are so brown, like C17th Dutch Masters, in tone.  And there’s a series of a weaver at his loom, done from several different views, that I wasn’t familiar with; also the brown Cafe  that’s in the Orsay – I was very dismissive of this one when I blogged about the Orsay.  Wrong, as usual – looks fine to me now, although not as good as the later ones, of course.  One chapter of the book is entitled “Religious Maniac” – they don’t mince their words at Taschen.

Last Judgement

Last mention of Mike for a while; I’m becoming obsessive.  I just want to mention the bulging, prominent eyes of many characters in the LJ, signalling wonder, horror and/or sheer terror, depending on their fate – there’s a cartoon quality to it.  With the writhing, twisting, gesturing poses, this really is something like the most astonishing strip cartoon ever done.

St. Blaise, Blackpaint


Blackpaint 127

May 4, 2010


Down to the pub at the bottom of the road, which we will call the Dick Turpin.  Many weeks ago, I left a number of my paintings there to be displayed in the restaurant area when it was up and running.  The decoration has been complete for several weeks, but there always seems to be a problem; the chef has let them down is the current one.  I have given up really, but since it is costing me nothing, I’m leaving the paintings there for the present, hoping against experience and reason that they will eventually go up and well-fed customers will buy them.


I’m looking at three postcards from the Paris Musee national d’art moderne, lined up on the mantelpiece.  They are, left to right, “Nu a la bagnoire”, “L’atelier au Mimosa” and “Nu de dos a la Toilette”.  They were done in 1931, 1946 and 1934 respectively, but I can detect no major difference in style.

The first thing is that from a distance of 10 feet or so, they look like abstracts – which doesn’t detract from their beauty at all.

Secondly, there is no depth in them.  Everything is upfront; the perspective is accurate but there is no sense of the background receding; the floor in “Nu..baignoire” is given the same value as the bath, the chair and the woman’s leg.  There are no shadows to emphasise perspective; the mimosa leaves in the second painting appear to be plastered directly onto the windowpanes.  The room appears to be shimmering, as if burning in yellow, orange and pink flames. 

Finally, there is an almost Klimt-like appearance to the patterning on the floors, chair back etc.

According to Brassai (Penguin book of Art writing, ed. Martin Gayford), he worked on several paintings at once, canvases pinned to wall, loading his brush and applying the colour to more than one canvas, wherever he thought it might fit.

Paul Nash

I was about to contrast the Bonnards with the washed-out Downlands and chilly blues and greens of Nash – then I had  a look at the latter’s work.  Yes, steely, chilly blue skies, but the browns and yellows of “Landscape of the Moon’s Last Phase” and “Michaelmas Landscape” are actually the same as “Mimosa” and “Nu..Toilette”.

Incidentally, I said in Blackpaint 114 that there were no good, cheap books on Bonnard.  I was wrong; there is a Thames and Hudson and another small book – but although the colours are good, the illustrations are only postcard size and too many are black and white.