Posts Tagged ‘Sinatra’

Blackpaint 686 – Audrey, Grace, Louis, Bing, Frankie and Fred

February 19, 2021

Burning in the Green

Blackpaint ( oil on canvas 100X100cms)

New policy of putting up a painting at the start, so that even those who navigate away immediately can’t avoid glimpsing one.  Additionally, someone is annoyed that I don’t do materials and dimensions, so from now on, I will.

Funny Face (1957) dir Stanley Donen 

Musical starring Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn.  In my view, Fred and Ginger are the apex dance predators; people who know about dance go on about Cyd Charisse. Astaire’s partner in The Bandwagon – but I found her ungainly compared to Ginger; maybe the legs were just too long.  Audrey Hepburn turns in some class dances in this and a good performance of a great song – “How Long Has This Been Going On?” written by the Gershwins in 1928, but unused until this film.  I only had jazz instrumentals of this  so I’d assumed it was about someone discovering their partner was “broadening horizons” – but no.  The earnest, bookish, cerebral Hepburn has been kissed mischievously by Astaire, in one of those 50s musical moments – a sexual assault it would be now, as it no doubt was in the 50s, but nobody knew it then.  it was called “stealing a kiss”.  The kiss has made her realise that there is more to life than the philosophy of “Emphaticalism”.  Astaire, or fashion photographer”Dick Avery” as he is in this, is 30 years older than Hepburn, and looks it – but this is a musical, so suspension of belief – and Fred is as great as ever on the dance floor, proven by his unbelievable solo with the umbrella.  He should have dispensed with the big white raincoat though.  Actually, on second thoughts, he needed it for the matador bits.

High Society (1956) dir Charles Waters – and the songs by Cole Porter

Wealthy hipster Crosby brings Louis Armstrong and his band to Newport for the jazz festival he’s fronting – or is he planning to disrupt the pending wedding of his ex- wife (Grace Kelly) to a rich stuffed shirt, as they were once called?  Sinatra is there as a society reporter.

Couldn’t be made now.  Why?  the portrayal of black artists in an arguably subordinate role; only acceptable now  for the purpose of highlighting the subordination.  However, Armstrong and his fellow musicians are treated as equals at least by Crosby’s character and I don’t remember any particular embarrassments in the script; but they do perform to entertain Crosby’s house party of rich white guests.  Then again, Crosby performs with them, and he’s a superb singer, so its not a case of star black musicians having to back some white mediocrity. And Crosby introduces all the members of the band by name: Armstrong on cornet, Edmond Hall on clarinet, Trummy Young (trombone), Billy Kyle (piano),  Arvell Shaw (bass), Barrett Deems (drums).  “Now You Has Jazz” – great song, brilliant lyrics, dazzling performance by Crosby, Armstrong and the band.

Another snag might be Crosby singing “Little One” to Kelly’s young sister, the words of which play along with the girl’s fantasy of marrying Crosby.  Obviously innocent and reflecting more innocent times, I can’t see it making it into the film in our era, when “Baby it’s cold outside” is attacked for portraying sexual harrassment.

And the fantastic Sinatra-Crosby duet “Well did you evah?” – problem here might be the constant drinking before, during, and after the song, which makes alcohol look desirable and fun.  It had me dying for a drink after 5 seconds.  And smoking – Crosby sings “Samantha”, as he gets ready for the evening; he fills his cigarette case from a dispenser on the table – another nostalgic moment for me.

Crosby upfront, Louis Armstrong behind his left arm, Edmond Hall on clarinet behind his right and Trummy Young (trombone) just visible on the far left of picture.

OK, that’s the end of my obsession with PC and Cancel Culture for today – more next time, no doubt.  A few more paintings from the lockdown:

High Wire, oil and charcoal on canvas 100x100cm

Years Too Late, materials and dimensions as for High Wire

 

Down the Stumpy Path, materials and dimensions as for High Wire.

Blackpaint

19/02/21

 

Blackpaint 42

January 18, 2010

Royal Academy Exhibition

I thought I’d have a crack at this, this year, never having tried before.  I didn’t realise they had themes – this years is as follows:

” Raw”

Selectors “wish  to ‘cut to the chase’ and take a look behind the exterior of the pristine; to address the properties of the materials and the working finger prints left in pursuit of curiosity. Raw can be stark, natural, unrefined, honest, bleak, tender and new.”  They want ” candour beyond disguise”.

Well, I should have no problem with “stark, natural, unrefined” and “bleak” – “tender and new” might be a bit of a stretch though – and as for honest… 

It got me thinking about which artists’ work might fit these descriptors.  I would have said Franz Kline; his stuff is certainly stark, and some might say bleak – but then it turns out to have been highly considered and prepared, so you couldn’t call it unrefined.  Other “gestural” painters – Wols, Mitchell, Pollock – sometimes have the appearance, at first sight, of rawness or spontaneous improvisation; but a few minutes consideration are enough to reveal the care, planning, and controlled delicacy of most of their work. 

The painters I would choose are Karel Appel, Dubuffet and (some, but by no means all) Asger Jorn.  Some of Dubuffet’s stuff appears quite literally scraped raw – for instance, the one in Tate Modern where you pick out the figures – and that goes also for the two Jorns, “Proud Timid One” with its scraped surface, and the other one with the little globular people looking out at you.  Virtually all of Appel’s fabulous paintings are great swirls of thickly applied, fresh, blinding colour.  Giacometti drawings are another example, I suppose, in the sense that they are worked and reworked and built up, and of course, Auerbach.

There is a problem here of course, in the sense that these artists produce “raw” work in appearance – the “fingerprints” are left in, the properties of the materials are exploited – but you couldn’t really call their work raw in any other sense.  Auerbach’s, famously,  is very “cooked”, gone over and over again, erased and redone umpteen times.  Again, we see that an “unrefined” appearance is often very deceptive – and these terms that seem so straightforward at first, are quite problematic.

Listening to Frank Sinatra with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, doing “Begin the Beguine”;

“So don’t let them begin the Beguine, don’t let them play;

Let the spark that was once a fire remain an ember…”

Hard, raw swing with brash, blaring brass and a hard -edged, yearning, perfect vocal.

Blackpaint

18.o1.10