Posts Tagged ‘Raphael’

Blackpaint 209

October 19, 2010

Lucian Freud

I saw that Jerry Hall has sold some of her pictures for £ (or maybe $) 2.3 million and when I saw one, a portrait of her naked on a bed, I assumed it was hers, in the sense that she’d painted it.  It looked like a poor attempt at a Lucian Freud; fuzzy pink flesh, lop-sided approximation of a face…

Of course, it was a Lucian Freud, hers in the sense that she owned it.  Very bad painting, judging by the newspaper photograph, almost unbelievable from one of the most brilliant “realist” painters of human flesh alive; maybe when you’re rich and famous, you feel you have to paint pictures of your celebrity mates, even if they don’t inspire you.  Shame when you think of Harry Diamond, Francis Bacon, the suited Irish blokes, Lee Bowery and all the other fantastic pictures he’s done.  Still, any painter can have an off day – I expect I will, eventually.

Three new Tate Books

1.  Eva Hesse

Some great paintings, up to 1960; mostly “spectres” and some masks.  Great, greys, greeny yellow ochre backgrounds, long-necked, sketchy ghosts in a greasy, slippery style.  Grey horror masks, antecedents of Marlene Dumas.  What an artist she was – of course, I love these works better than her minimalist stuff, though that’s usually good too.

2.  Hannah Wilke

Beautiful (as was Hesse), she disfigured herself in photos with stick-on boils, did videos in which she danced in a cowboy outfit and stripped – saw that in the Paris Feminist exhibition at the Pompidou  and generally did stuff relating to exploitation of female beauty.  Later, she got cancer and documented the physical results of the disease and treatment, such as hair loss, “unflinchingly” is the cliche, I suppose.  Was she the first to do that?  Anyway, the book is hard to look at but worth it.

3.  Jenny Saville

Freud-ish portraits of both sexes and various ages, using livid, lurid colours often suggesting smeared blood and/or decay and profusely fleshy models.  The extreme close-ups of her brushwork are very beautiful abstract pictures in themselves.

Turner Prize contenders

I saw four out of the five.  Dexter Dalwood has six large paintings; “Lennie” (of Mice and Men), “Greenham”, “Melville”, “White Flag”, “Burroughs in Tangier” and (famously) “Death of Doctor Kelly”.  They follow his formula of room/location of famous person/event, with the principle absent, although I couldn’t work out what or where “White Flag” was; the rest are self-explanatory.  There were “cameos” of other artists in the following; Terry Frost discs in “Greenham”, Braque (I think) in “Melville’s room”, Twombly lines in “Borroughs” – as well as a red line and some blue scribble at the top, which looked a bit Lanyon to me – and Jasper Johns of course in “White Flag”.

Angela de la Cruz had several leatherette and fabric things, like collapsed canvases on easels, or tents maybe.  Also, a broken chair on a stool and a filing cabinet welded to some other piece of junk.  they were a bit like soft Rauschenberg “Gluts”.

Susan Phillipz was a disembodied voice, singing “Lowlands Away”, originally installed under a Scottish bridge.  Anne Briggs’ version far superior – or Sandy Denny’s or Martin Carthy’s.

The Otolith group had a battery of a dozen or so TV’s showing different episodes of a subtitled arts series, coupled with a fim by Satyajit Ray called “the Alien”.

Missed the last contender, also TV stuff, due to lack of time.  I don’t like looking at TVs in art galleries usually, anyway.

I think Dalwood should win, although his stuff is not brilliant; at least it’s substantial.

Raphael V. Michelangelo

I was surprised to hear Matthew Collings put it like this on TV the other day, and declare Raphael the “winner”.  Will pursue this in future blogs.  I have to say that Raphael made a lovely job of M’s knobbly right knee in “The School of Athens”, however.

Towton by Blackpaint

19.10.10

Blackpaint 188

September 7, 2010

Tate St.Ives – Final word

Went back for a second visit and nothing to add on minimal stuff  or the Lily van der Stokker, but –

Frink

The “Harbinger Bird” is made of plaster – I had assumed wood, light coloured and unsmoothed.

Hoffman

Looking for the famous “push-pull” effect.  Couldn’t get it at all – some bits are obviously on top of others but that’s because you can see the boundary lines or brush marks, not because of some inherent property of the colours.  Not to say it’s not a great painting; especially that  blue colour, which reminds me of powder paints at primary school – some years ago, now.

Sandra Blow

Her “Vivace”, in her own words, was “an attempt to make a gestural work that was not tried and retried…, that happened “immediately””.  Looking through a booklet on her by Mel Gooding, however, I saw she had done another one, almost the same, this time in blue.  Some people can only do so much spontaneity.  Not a criticism, I love her stuff.

Lanyon

Is that a shark approaching from the right?

Tunnard

On second viewing, what struck me was the “technical drawing” aspect – the shapes were a bit like one of those old geometry sets you used to get in flat tin boxes.  Precision has its place, of course, and there are those who admire it for the workmanship, the care, the expertise…  Fuck all that,  I say, get some paint on your brush (or knife, or whatever) and whack it on, give it some stick, roll about on it naked – sorry, back in control again.

Raphael Cartoons

A couple of weeks ago – after Tillmans at Serpentine – went to V&A and looked for the Cartoons; couldn’t  find them.  Now I know why; they form the basis of a special exhibition with four tapestries, I think based on the Cartoons, from the Sistine Chapel, lent by the Vatican “to mark the pope’s visit” (Jonathan Jones in  the Guardian).  So, for the last few years, the punter has been able to see the cartoons for free.  Now, I presume you have to pay (Jones gives a box office number) for the privilege of seeing the eight, was it? plus the four from the Vatican.

I’ve found this quite often with exhibitions in museums and galleries; you pay your money and find that most of the stuff has been on display in the permanent collection for ages.  It disappears and turns up again, with a few extras chucked in.  Shouldn’t moan really; museums and galleries ARE free – probably won’t  be by next week – and you can’t blame them for exploiting a bit of earning potential.  Well, you can of  course and I do. 

I hate that “to mark the pope’s visit”, as well.  A pox on all religions and non-democratic political systems and cultural PR of this sort – remember the Turkish exhibition at the Royal Academy a few years back, that coincided with the discussions about Turkey joining the EU?  Art is politics – and so is religion.  Jones says as much in his last sentence.

And he’s  right about the best of the cartoons, too; The Miraculous Draught of Fishes.

Not a Raphael cartoon, but an old Blackpaint job.

Blackpaint

07.09.10

Blackpaint 145

June 1, 2010

Things you have learnt on Blackpaint since November 2009

  1. Michelangelo doesn’t do trees
  2. Romans and Greeks both did landscapes
  3. Egyptians and Romans did still lifes
  4. Raphael’s nudes are well covered; Michelangelo’s and Leonardo’s are “ripped”
  5. Some staggeringly good renaissance painters (and Rembrandt) do limbs and hands too big
  6. Some staggeringly good Post-Impressionists have done some really awful paintings
  7. Some cultures (notably Ife) happily mix abstract/stylised and naturalistic features in same sculpture/picture 
  8. There were lots of Dutch working class abstract artists in the post ww2 years
  9. Paul Feiler is the great unsung St.Ives artist
  10. So is Sandra Blow.

Artists between whom there are resemblances no.3 (I think)

Chris Ofili and Wangechi Mutu.  Check out especially  her heads entitled “the histology of the different classes of uterine tumours” (no kidding).

Listening to Honky Tonk Man by Johnny Horton.

“I’m a honky tonk man, and I can’t seem to stop,

I like to give the girls a whirl to the music of an old juke box;

And when the money’s all gone, I’m on the telephone,

Crying Oh,oh Mama, can your daddy come home?” 

Blackpaint

01.06.10

Blackpaint 140

May 25, 2010

National Gallery of Scotland (cont.)

Not an immediately exciting title, I would guess, unless you are a Scots patriot – however, I have saved a couple of really controversial observations for this bit of the review.   Here’s the first;

Titian

Titian’s work is of variable quality.  There is the Diana and Actaeon that was recently “saved for the nation” at a cost of..how much was it?  Great composition, the way he reels back with arm across face – but close up, the brushwork is, well, scrubby and scrappy – or “increasingly broken and impressionistic” as the Companion puts it.  and there’s something wrong with Diana’s head, isn’t there?  It’s too small and in the wrong position.  the Diana and Callisto, closely  resembling the Actaeon in composition, contains no such difficulties – but, somehow, the first one seems the greater picture. 

The Three Ages of Man contains a heap of fat and unappealing babies and an extremely serious young girl, peering into the face of a much older, Byronic (and near naked) man, whilst fingering a flute-type instrument in a distinctly phallic position.

The Virgin and Child with John the Baptist features a similar character as J the B, and the virgin wears a blue  and rose dress, the folds of which are brilliantly depicted in white – but somehow dominate the picture, making the rest look underpainted.  And the right arm of Venus, just risen from the sea, squeezing water  from her hair – too fat.  Colours staggering, however, in all pictures.

Leonardo

The Madonna of the Yarnwinder, recently  stolen and recovered, is on display – and again, I have to say, it’s not up to other Leonardos; the faces of both the mother and child seem odd, elongated noses, blurry features..

Raphael

No childish criticism of these three “luminous” pictures, except that Joseph in the tondo seems overly coiffured;   I love the squirming Jesus in the Virgin and Child.  Mary’s eyes don’t engage with the child’s, but seem rather to stare thoughtfully past him to the floor – it seems to me I’ve noticed this lack of engagement in other V and C’s; is it some sort of convention?

Other fantastic stuff

Beautiful, silky surfaced Rubens; a religious allegorical painting by Holbein; Stoning of St Stephen by Elsheimer, with the young man poised to fling  the big stone at the back of the kneeling martyr’s skull; the Van Der Goes Trinity Altarpiece, the legends of St.Nicholas by Gerard David…

The Impressionists

Cezanne’s The Big Trees, with its geometric, blue and brown tunnel, next to Van Gogh’s Olive Trees, with its short, diagonal brush strokes and coiling trunks and limbs, the two pictures echoing and bouncing off each other; unusual, vibrant Gauguins, Jacob wrestling the angel against burning red and the whites of the women’s headgear and the dusky pink of the ground and short, downward “tiles” of foliage in Martinique Landscape – and the Degas portrait of Diego Martelli, arms folded, on the table a spread of yellow, white and blue sketchbooks and papers that could make an abstract painting in themselves.

Finally

John Singer Sargent’s Lady Agnew, looking directly and intensely at you, the way that white silk dress is painted with those loose brush strokes..

And much more.  I’m going back to see it all again, as soon as I can.

Cold Blue Jug by Blackpaint

25.05.10 

Blackpaint 132

May 11, 2010

Kingdom of Ife

A few blogs ago (Blackpaint 123),  I was writing about the mixture of naturalistic and stylised features in the atrifacts  of this culture as if it were something unique.  it isn’t of course, and I realised this looking at the picture of Nebamun, a “reckoner of grain”, hunting fowl in the marshes, done on a tomb wall in Egypt around 1390BC (30.000 years of  art, Phaidon, page 113).  The hunter is in the typical Egyptian profile pose, one leg advanced, body turned towards the viewer, face side view; the animals, however, particularly a cat, are “Unfettered by the strict conventions that applied to representations of people” – and are portrayed in a more naturalistic way.  There are, no doubt, many other examples from other cultures.

Renaissance Drawings (cont.)

Leonardo, “An old man and young man in profile”; parallel and tonal shading.  Little sketches of his war machines, revolving sickles and circular tanks like little flying saucers.

More Leo – a very densely shaded little sketch, I think of St. Anne with the infant that became the cartoon.  Also, the man in profile with the bizarre winged hat, and that fantastic left leg done in red chalk. 

Sangallo (?) – a poet tearing up a scroll; like the Pollaiulo Adam, very dodgily proportioned arms and legs.  Maybe this is intentional stylisation  which appears “wrong” in the presence of all this virtuosity.

Piero Di Cosimo, St. Jerome in a rocky landscape, done in charcoal on 5 sheets of paper joined together,  it looks like a soft pencil drawing.  The label says the lion is in there, but I couldn’t find it.

In a side room, a sketch for Raphael’s “St.George” that I blogged about on St.George’s Day in Blackpaint 118.  Cross hatching and parallel shading, top left to bottom right.  Also a facsimile of the painting.

More Raphael – an “Entombment”, with cross hatching in the “Michelangelo” style.  Raphael’s male figures, although beautifully drawn, tend to be fleshier and smoother than those of Michelangelo and Leonardo; I wonder if he was less involved in dissecting bits of dead body that the others, who show great relish for delineating the exact dimensions and shape of muscle, bone and tendon.

Michelangelo – best in show, I think; a youth beckoning, with a fantastic back, cross hatching, and the legs and one arm “ghosted” in, fading away from the centre of the drawing;  Loads of big, fat babies their skin in folds, all cross hatched; two perfectly drawn legs upside down on page.  Most of Mick’s stuff is like real sketching in a modern book, jostling for room on a page or intersecting with other drawings.

Carpaccio – lovely effects on blue paper with lead white.

Botticelli – a “Pallas” with two adjacent heads and three eyes, one shared by both heads!

Fra Bartolomeo, Virgin and Child, showing distinct Leonardo influence.

Del Verocchio, Leo’s master – several beautiful, demure heads or women and angel, one of which is the poster girl for the exhibition.

Lorenzo Monaco, whose sketches look decidedly modern, but in painting become those archaic saints  with the dark faces and spade – shaped beards.

Finally (for me, anyway, because I went the wrong way round), that beautiful pair of cheetahs or leopards done by “a follower of De Grassi”. 

Generally then, some very great drawings – I’ll be going again, so will not spoil this with any of my usual cynicism.  To my mind, the exhibition serves to underline the supremacy of L and M; but plenty more of interest too.

Head of St.Anonymous by Blackpaint

Blackpaint

10.05.10

Blackpaint 120

April 25, 2010

Raphael etc. at the British Museum

I see from the Review Show (Fri, BBC2) that one of the star drawings on show at the above is a drawing for the Raphael St.George and the Dragon that was cited in Blackpaint 118.  If I didn’t  despise cliche, I would be tempted to mention fingers on pulses or worse, surfing the zeitgeist – but I do despise cliche, so I will draw a veil over both of these expressions.

I have to say that I’m irritated by the sort of awed, reverential terms critics use in discussing Renaissance works; recent examples being the critics’  response to the Michelangelo presentation drawings at  the Courtauld and Simon Armitage on the Review Show, talking about them as if they were some kind of holy relic from an age long before abstraction and conceptual art, when artists really were artists and cared about getting things right (and were capable of it – not like today’s shower, who can’t draw properly, etc, etc).  Presumably, something of the sort applies to poetry too and music and the novel?  Quite a lot of modern poetry doesn’t rhyme or scan properly, for example.

Cai Guo-Kiang and Zao Wou-Ki

The first of these two artists exhibited I think last year at the Guggenheim in Bilbao and at the Tate Modern more recently(?).  He “paints” with gunpowder, setting off little explosions on paper, as well as doing firework displays and some spectacular installations (an arcing shower of stuffed wolves, for instance and cars spinning back to earth after being thrown up by an explosion of neon tubing).  The wolves bring Beuys to mind and his colours recall Kiefer, a bit – but the interesting thing for me was seeing two oil paintings by Zao done in 1970 that in their coppery, grey, black, gold and white coloration really resemble Cai’s gunpowder efforts – so much so that I had it in mind they were by the same artist.  Until today, when I looked them both up and realised my error.

Sort of California feel -Blackpaint

I’ve been watching that great documentary on the Ferus Gallery, Walter Hopps, Irving Blum and their California stable of artists – or whores, as one of the artists admitted.  More tomorrow.

Listening to “Black and White” by the Highwaymen;

“Welcome home, said the hot moonlight,

We were born and raised in black and white;

One chose the dark, one chased the light,

We were born and raised in black and white..”

Blackpaint

Sunday night

Blackpaint 118

April 23, 2010

Jerusalem

Blackpaint celebrated St. George’s Day (and Shakespeare’s spurious birth and death day) early, by going to see the Jez Butterworth play at the Apollo Shaftesbury Avenue last night.  It was nearly as good as the reviews;  my only disappointment was that the language didn’t quite match the Shakespearean overtones.  Rooster Byron clearly invites some comparison with Falstaff, as an unofficial Master of Revels and a “misleader” of youth; I kept waiting for the “chimes at midnight” line, but it never came.

There were a couple of excellent monologues, put in the mouth of the confused professor; one was a long rhyme that sounded traditional, the other a short account of the St.George legend – again, I think  it was a quotation.

At the end of the play, Byron calls up a long line of English, Anglo-Saxon and other(? Yggdrasil?  isn’t that the Norse tree that joins earth to heaven?) folk heroes and mythic figures and I was reminded of the Donmar Theatre years ago, watching the end of Albert Mtwla’s “Woza Albert”, where  the heroes of the Liberation struggle are invoked one after another.

That was the second occasion that I was transported back in time;  the first was 10 or 15 minutes earlier, when Sandy Denny’s “Who knows where the time goes?” was used for a dance sequence.

It was December 1966 and I was in Charing Cross  Road, opposite St Martins -in- the-Field, by Trafalgar Square.  I was humping a big, brown leather briefcase  back to my firm’s West  End office.  Beatle hair over my ears and collar, suit and tie.  Suddenly, right in front of me, emerging from a taxi, carrying a guitar case and  wearing a black cape, Sandy Denny.  I’d seen her play and sing at the Nag’s Head in Winstanley Road, Battersea on the previous Sunday night and I like to think  she recognised me (it was a small, smoky upstairs room).  Anyway, I was smitten, although she was a couple of years older than me.

She saw me staring at her, paused and gave me a little quizzical smile; obviously at this point I  should have approached, told her I was a big fan, got an autograph – didn’t do  any of those; too shy- went red, turned away, walked on, kicked myself every night for a month…

Anyway, art.

Five great St. Georges; google them.

  • Tintoretto, National Gallery
  • Uccello, National gallery
  • Raphael, National gallery of Washington
  • Rubens, Prado
  • Odilon Redon – at least three versions, very strange.

My St.George (again)

Blackpaint

23.04.10

Blackpaint 106

April 7, 2010

Victoria and Albert Museum

Visited here today to see the new Medieval Galleries again, but, once more, got diverted to the Cast Rooms to see the astonishing Shobdon Tympanum again (see Blackpaint 17), the Santiago de Compostela gates with Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel- and then a jump to the Annunciation and the Christ story, progressing upwards.  You have to “read”from top left to bottom, then bottom right to top. 

Checked the cast of the David statue and, yes, I’m afraid his head and neck do now look too big to me (see Blackpaint 99 and 104) – but, far worse, he now bears a facial resemblance to David Cameron.  You don’t believe me? Imagine the hair trimmed and slicked back, some pudge on the torso, a tight white shirt with top button just undone…

Islamic Art

Waiting for my partner to return from the quilts exhibition, wandered round the Islamic treasures from Iran, India, Pakistan and Turkey.  As an abstract artist and lover of modern abstract art, I should be bowled over by these exquisite carpets and hangings and decorations but I was not (apart from those beautiful Mughal miniature paintings).  There was nothing for my eye to catch on, no roughness, asymmetry, chaos,  just harmony, order, beautiful workmanship, perfection.  I want just the opposite – disorder, bad taste, violence, anarchy; if its figurative and old, I want dragons, tortures, martyrdoms… 

So, we went to look at the multiple tortures of St. George, in the Retable (is that right?) in the room with the Raphael Cartoons.  George was, among other things, being burned, boiled alive and sawn in half, before the beheading which finished him off – one can imagine the executioner thinking “Why didn’t we do this in the first place?”

By far the best Cartoon, I have always thought, is “The Miraculous Draught of Fishes”.

After this, to prove that Blackpaint is not one of these people locked into either art or science, but happily inhabits both intellectual spheres, we were taken by our youngest to the Science Museum.  There I was staggered by the steam machinery on the ground floor – I’ve always found them beautiful, but for the first time, they looked very Heath Robinson to me, all improbable pistons, levers and boilers and wheels and lovely, rough, black metal surfaces. 

I had the Higgs Boson, Super symmetry and Schrodinger’s Cat explained to me and bought “Stiff”, a book about the “life” of corpses with, inter alia, descriptions of guillotinings – which brought a nice symmetry to the day.

Blackpaint

07.04.10