Posts Tagged ‘Richard Gerstl’

Blackpaint 419 – Gouged Eyes, Smashed Noses, Livid Flesh (but no sex)

October 31, 2013

Art Under Attack – Tate Britain

A great exhibition.   It starts with the iconoclasm under Henry VIII and Edward VI; some very beautiful small statues, smashed noses, broken in half, eyes gouged out (to avoid the possibility of eye contact with the common people – a superstitious fear that a rapport might be established, based on the idea, perhaps, that the soul is visible through the eyes?); paintings scored and scratched.  Becket’s image scraped out of beautiful Books of Hours.

A statue of Charles I by Hubert LeSueur in black metal, with the crown hacked – not much damage though; must be tough metal.

There is a painting of the Pope being stoned with boulders by the four Evangelists, owned by Henry VIII; a fantastic large statue of the dead Christ, dug up after centuries of being buried.

Moving on historically, there is the destruction of Nelson’s Column in Dublin by the IRA in 1966 – pushing the definition of art, surely – and then the Sufragettes, who defaced sexy Pre-Raph paintings and slashed the Rokeby Venus; this I found interesting; didn’t know they concerned themselves with presentation of women as sex objects, as well as agitating for the vote.

Then, there is a section on auto-destructive art, Metzger on the South Bank, destroying paintings with acid to reveal St Paul’s across the river, and Ortiz destroying a piano – the remains are on the wall, looking a bit like a large Schwitters – Austrian Actionists in a group photo, looking like a bunch of manic perverts, appropriately perhaps.

Finally, there are modern artworks that have been attacked, like Allen Jones’ woman as an office chair, the face of which was defaced with acid. presumably by a feminist saboteur.  Andre’s bricks are there and some Goya(?) prints purchased and defaced by the Chapmans.

There is perhaps a disconnection between religious and political iconoclasm and the destruction of works by the artists themselves for aesthetic purposes; it doesn’t matter really. though – a great exhibition.

Dancer in the Dark

The Von Trier film, featuring Bjork.  Check the opening credit sequence – it’s Per Kirkeby, like drawings or prints of fossils in red and indigo inks.  Not keen on Bjork’s acting though.

Sebastian Faulks, A Possible Life

In the last blog, I mentioned the similarity between the drowning incident in the above book to that in Pete Seeger’s song “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” and to a Scott Fitzgerald story about WWI.  I’ve found the SF story; it’s called “I Didn’t Get Over”.  It’s not really the same; Scott Fitzgerald’s concerns a raft which capsizes and results in the drowning of more than twenty soldiers.  In Seeger’s song, the only casualty is the foolhardy officer.  The common denominator of the three is the foolishness and/or stubbornness of the officers involved.  There was a real incident, in the US in the 60’s I think; the Ribbon Creek incident, in which six marines drowned.

Facing the Modern; Portraits from Vienna, National Gallery

This is a fascinating exhibition; the pictures range from the most painstaking naturalism to quite extreme expressionist renditions.  Schiele and Klimt need no description, of course; Arnold Schoenberg has several of his portraits – the faces are similar, but there is something very attractive about the paintings, despite their gaucheness.  Another painter,  new to me, is Richard Gerstl – the Fay sisters, seated in their white dresses, terrifying; Gerstl’s brother, in an officer’s uniform, staring out from a Vuillard-like drawing room, the whole thing rendered in Seurat-ish blobs.

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Fay Sisters

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Gerstl’s Brother

Kokoschkas in livid greens and purples on ochre, twisted features (Kokoschka’s people never look at each other). ugly scratches on the background that add nothing; then, three fabulous dark portraits that recall Sickert, for me anyway.

There is a family group, viewed from a high angle, by Anton Kolig – rough, impressionistic, quickly executed and terrific.  It reminds me of the work of Michael Andrews; look at that little girl’s drawing arm.

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Kolig

And there are the Schieles; that livid flesh, composed of a brush marks in a variety of colours, prefiguring the flesh tones of Freud, Bacon, Jenny Saville….

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Schiele and Schoenberg

Another great exhibition.  A preoccupation with death, incidentally; a lot of death masks, deathbed portraits, memorial portraits – apparently there was a very high suicide rate amongst young Jewish men at that time.

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White Line Fever 1

Blackpaint

31.10.13