Posts Tagged ‘Q the Winged Serpent’

Blackpaint 318 – 5 o’clock shadow and the Chrysler eggs

January 10, 2012

Larry Cohen

This week, the new DiCaprio film “J.Edgar” is on release, which reminds me of Cohen’s great film of 1977, covering the same ground: “The Private Files of J.Edgar Hoover”.  This must be seen, if for no other reason than the fact that it stars Broderick Crawford as Hoover.  In addressing one of his FBI agents, he delivers the line, “You have a tendency to 5 o’clock shadow – shave twice a day”.  Quite why this is brilliant coming from Crawford, I’m not sure – would it be as resonant from DiCaprio,though?  The film has Dan Dailey as Clyde Tolson, Hoover’s (alleged) lover.  The cast list, in fact, is full of famous names from the 50s.

The Chrysler eggs refers to “Q the Winged Serpent”, Cohen’s later masterpiece, in which Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec deity, pictured as a sort of archaeopterix – type dinosaur, nests in the top of the Chrysler building and starts to snatch and eat unwary New Yorkers.  Fantastic, funny and I’ve just decided to get both on DVD.

The above is not intended to disparage DiCaprio, who I think is a strong and versatile actor; Broderick Crawford just has to be himself, though – he’s a winged serpent.

Gainsborough

Nicola Kalinsky in the Phaidon book says that G was not much good at figures; the Andrews, for instance, are “peg-like” and stiff….clothes horses”.  I suppose this is true enough – I always felt there was a caricature-ish appearance to this picture, as if G were satirising them in some way.  It’s interesting that Gainsborough did his own dresses and draperies, rather than leaving it to an assistant; nowadays, we tend to prize the rendition of the silks and satins more than the subjects – after all, who knows what they really looked like?

Van Gogh

There really was no pleasing him; when, in 1889, Isaacson the painter praised his work, calling him a pioneer, VG wrote that his review was highly exaggerated and “it would be preferable if he said nothing about me at all” (letter 611).  Later, when Aurier wrote a very overblown piece on him, he wrote back saying Gauguin and Monticelli deserved the praise.  And he sold a painting, “the Red Vineyard”, at the Les Vingt exhibition in Brussels.  All this leads Walther and Metzger, in the Taschen Van Goch, to the colossal assumption that “His solid conviction that he would have to pay for success, sooner or later, was to drive Van Gogh to suicide” (Van Gogh, the Complete Paintings, Taschen 2010, p.573).  Lovely example of art criticism – not a scrap of evidence that this is true.

ICA – Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2011:  In the Presence

This is a free exhibiton of 40 recent art graduates’ work, and there is a lot of interesting and some good stuff to be seen.  I’ll start with three today:

Jessica Sarah Rinland

“Nulepsy” – a video dream sequence, I imagine, of a naked young man sleeping, interspersed with stills of him with parts of his body shrouded in some white, film – like mould on a corpse – too quick to see more clearly.   Naked skateboarding in a park follows.  Yes, we’ve all done it in our dreams.

Jonathan Trayte

“In the Presence of Nature” – A huge joint of meat on the sawn-off bone, like a section of a sheep’s torso, cast in bronze and sprayed or coated gold.  At least, I think (and hope) it’s meat; wood wouldn’t be as interesting.

Joshua Bilton

“Post Diptych” – A pair (obviously) of photographs, lovely white and grey tones, one of a wooden triangular structure like a giant dog kennel in a bare field of earth; the other a tree study, which close up, contains a trellis like structure.  One of those things that draws your eye across a room.  More next time.

Figures in a (Crowded) Landscape

Blackpaint

10/01/12