Posts Tagged ‘Tate Modern’

Blackpaint 643 – Franz West, Dorothea Tanning and Fellini’s Roma

April 24, 2019

Franz West – Tate Modern until June 3rd

I was pretty well disposed to regard this exhibition as a waste of space when I arrived, having seen the odd photo of West’s work in art books and been unimpressed by them.  After a few exhibits, however, I was feeling some grudging amusement here and there and was quite won over by the time we left to see the Dorothea Tanning.  It’s necessary, I think, to see the size of some of these pieces, coupled with the lack of portent.  He’s indulging a spirit of playfulness – yes, a sentence that would normally lead me to go elsewhere at once – but somehow, without annoying infantilism that implies.

Actually, now I come to think of it, it IS infantile and, yes, it IS annoying.  But the proper course of action, perhaps, is to see it and then condemn it.  What’s in it?  Some examples, as always, below:

 

Show kicks off with a series of framed cartoons like these;

 

Lots of stuff roughly sculpted or thrown together in plaster-

 

-or metal –

 

-or gold tinfoil (looks like, anyway)-

 

-or these sorts of entities, standing drunkenly and precariously on thin supports.  Also giant microbes or viruses dangling from the ceiling, huge boulder piles in fibre glass or epoxy resin or some such and a variety of insane prostheses that the more exhibitionist visitors can parade around wearing in front of their partners.  There are some metal sculptures that recall Paolozzi, perhaps, and a series of great spoof film posters.  Yes, on reflection, it’s childish in a Dada sort of way, but I quite liked it – don’t know why, really…

Dorothea Tanning – also at Tate Modern until June

This exhibition is haunted by Max Ernst, as can be seen in the first example below – reminded me of that little one he did called “Children Frightened by a Nightingale” or something similar.  Not surprising, since she was married to Ernst (Ernst had previously partnered Leonora Carrington, with whom I tend to confuse Tanning, and not only because of Ernst and the names; their work also has some similarities).  The giant locust thing on the tablecloth is a famous image of hers, and instantly recognisable, as is the one with the floaty haired girls in the corridor with the giant sunflower…

As for the third example below, the  biomorphic shapes wrestling by a table, there is a whole roomful of these paintings, sculptures too, that are completely different in style from the Ernst-ish ones and graphic locusts.  They (like everything, I suppose) are a matter of taste – I think they suffer from the similar stuff that often pads out affordable art fairs.

 

 

 

 

Roma, dir. Fellini, 1972

Fabulous film, not only for the ecclesiastical fashion show and the brothel scenes, but also (and mainly) for the underground breakthrough into the Roman villa, the fading murals and the wild, hallucinogenic scenes on the autostrada in the rain.  I’ve now seen all the Fellini available on DVD and Youtube and it’s all great – a few longeurs in “Clowns” perhaps, but the YouTube version had Portuguese subtitles.  I recommend getting all available Bunuel too, and watching them turn and turn about with the Fellini.

 

 

And this is one of mine.

 

The World Turned Upside Down 2

Blackpaint

24,4,19

 

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Blackpaint 621 – Abstract All the Way, Today – apart from Two Deers and Picasso

June 9, 2018

The Shape of Light, Tate Modern

An exhibition which explores the way abstract painting and abstract photography have interacted since, I guess, the teens and twenties of the last century up to today.  Consequently, it’s both huge and incomplete.  Some examples below:

 

 

 

 

I didn’t note who the painters and photographers were, but the usual suspects were there – Van Duisberg, Moholy-Nagy, Arp, Kandinsky, Brassai, Man Ray and so on.  I liked Siskind’s scratched brickwork and blistered paint and the views from the top of buildings down stairways of Moholy-Nagy.

Later sections with work by Bridget Riley et al.  Lots of rooms, lots of work and my usual problem with numerous monochrome abstract photos – the skidding eye…

 

Ed Kienholz, America My Hometown, at Blain/Southern (Hanover Square) until 14th July

Like Rauschenburg, sometimes, without the paint swatches mostly, and with a rougher sense of humour.  The exhibition “traces Kienholz’s formative years (1954 – 1967)” says the sheet.

The Little Eagle Rock Incident (1958)

 

The Nativity (1961)

A Gift for a Baby (1962)

The American Way, II (1960)

Kienholz, once resident in the back of the legendary Ferus Gallery, and an associate of Walter Hopps (read Hopps’ memoir as an antidote to the usual art BS), drove a pick up truck with “Expert” blazoned on the side, got his material from scrapyards, made scandalous tableaux (“Hoerengracht” for instance) and was buried – when dead, of course –  in his car.  Fabulous stuff.  See also the film “The Cool School”, about Kienholz, Hoppe, Irving Blum and the Ferus Gallery.

Downstairs at Blain/Southern is Erika Nissinen, a Finnish artist whose work is not easily describable, but is grotesque, funny and requires a visit.

Transcendental Accidents (The Aalto Natives) 2017-18

 

Surface Work – Women Artists at Victoria Miro Mayfair until 16th June – so hurry.

The sheet describes this as an “international, cross-generational exhibition” which is “a celebration of women artists who have shaped and transformed…..the language and definition of abstract painting.”  Others on show include Krasner, Hedda Sterne, Agnes Martin, Lygia Clark. Prunella Clough and loads more.  The Frankenthaler and the Thomas are not typical – there is Constructivist, minimalist, and geometric pieces too.

Helen Frankenthaler – Winter Figure with Black Overhead (1959)

Alma Thomas – Untitled (1961)

Picasso 1932, Tate Modern – yet again + stages of Guernica

I’ve been again, and I thought it might be worth mentioning that there is only one of the 1932 paintings, as far as I can see – or maybe one and a half – in which the central image is not defined by a heavy black or dark line.  No doubt this is because he wanted to establish the image ASAP, fix it so to speak, and get on with the next image looming up in his brain – who knows?  Anyway, it’s this one:

Sorry, rather fuzzy image.

I’ve just been looking at “Dora Maar, with and without Picasso” by Mary Ann Caws (Thames and Hudson, 2000).  In it is a series of photos of the stages of “Guernica”.  I was interested to see that Picasso originally had a long, muscular, worker-victim’s arm with clenched fist, thrusting straight up, slightly left of centre, where the screaming horse’s head is now.  The horse is arguably the most memorable feature of the painting, so he made the right decision.  With the fist, the painting would have been corny propaganda, like those awful peace things he did in the 50’s, with flute-playing rustics wandering about.  It’s still propaganda, but great.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer, dir. Yorgos Lanthimos (2017)

More epater les bourgeois, like The Square – but horrible.  It contains a sequence in which Colin Farrell, blindfolded, spins with a rifle in the midst of his bound and gagged family, and fires randomly…

The set-up of the plot strangely echoes that of the recent ITV serial “Trauma”, with Adrian Lester as a surgeon who is harried by the father of a youth he has operated on, but who died in surgery.  The father discovers the surgeon had been drinking.  In this film, the pursuer is son not father, but in other respects, oddly similar.  Supposedly “venomously funny”, according to the Telegraph.

 

Ghost Geese fly West

Blackpaint

09.06.18

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 620 – Signorelli, Picasso and the Ape in the Museum

May 26, 2018

National Gallery

A new Signorelli, someone up a ladder, probably related to a Crucifixion.  This one’s good, but I have to say, I wasn’t keen on his other big ones – a visit of the Magi and a Circumcision.  The first has one of the worst baby Jesuses I’ve ever seen (and I’ve listed several in previous blogs).  I think Signorelli is much better doing his murals of writhing, fighting demons in his cartoon-like style, like those in Orvieto, for instance.

 

Yes, it’s definitely a baby…

That’s more like it, Luca…

In addition to Signorelli, we were looking at the painting by “Follower of Georgione” and the one by G himself and it struck me that the texture and detail involved reminded me a little of Richard Dadd’s “Fairy Feller’s Masterstroke”.  Fanciful, I know, but then I got another blast of Dadd from the Altdorfer – I think it was the legs of the man on the right…

Follower of Giorgione

Altdorfer

Finally,the big Perugino and the Mond Crucifixion by Raphael, the one with the sun and moon with faces: surely both P and R were using the same model for Mary?

The Square, dir. Ruben Ostlund (2017)

From the director of Force Majeure, this repeats the motif of a smug, liberal, bourgeois male who commits a disgraceful act.  In FM, it was running away from an avalanche, leaving his family; in this film, the guilty man posts accusing letters through all the doors in a block of flats, knowing that his stolen phone and the thieves are in one – but which one?  It has unfortunate consequences for a young boy in one apartment.

The erring male is an art museum director and the scene above is a performance staged at the museum by an actor who imitates an ape.  Of course, he goes too far and begins an assault on a female guest that looks as if it will turn into rape if uninterrupted.  Eventually, one of the suited guests tries to pull him off and the others  join in, punching and kicking.  Funny, and reminiscent of Bunuel, Festen, and maybe Airplane, a little.  Not sure what point, if any, was being made here, however.  Those Swedes, though – they do love to “epater les bourgeois”, don’t they?

More Picasso

As promised last time, some more pictures from the Picasso Year 1932 exhibition at Tate Modern.  Some of them are in hideous frames, so I’ve cropped them out.

Inflatable ladies playing at beachball.

 

One of an impressive Crucifixion series, recalling both Grunewald and Goya’s Disasters of War.

 

This looks like a beautiful flower from across the gallery; pretty good close up too, except that the breasts resemble the eyes of a frightened ghost…

 

Bit of a horror image – her face looks like a stylised Otto Dix trench corpse…

 

Unusual for Picasso (that sounds odd in itself), in that there are no hard lines around the various components of the image.  Great little painting.

 

Continental Drift

Blackpaint

26.5.18

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 609 – Soutine, Kabakovs, Green Penis Man and Giant Cloth Moths

November 7, 2017

Soutine at the Courtauld: Cooks, Waiters and Bellboys (until 21st January)

A great exhibition of Soutine’s colourful, wonky portraits that are so individual I’m hard-pressed to do my usual spurious comparisons.  Although maybe one or two remind me a little of Max Beckmann… and the ghost of Bacon is hovering about here and there.  I like that shoulder disparity below and, of course, the sticking-out ears, echoing the fall of the chef’s hat.  The sumptious blue of the background in the first portrait is worth mentioning too – Soutine uses it a lot.  He was a favourite of de Kooning; maybe some similarities there?

 

 

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov at Tate Modern: Not Everyone will be Taken into the Future (until 28th Jan)

Also one to see.  Ten rooms of the most varied works:  paintings, wooden model “theatres” that you peer into through little windows, full-size, re-constructed rooms full of artifacts, a winding, half-lit corridor, along which you walk trying to read the captions to the old photographs, led on by the voice of Ilya K himself, humming and crooning old Russian songs from somewhere ahead (Labyrinth (My Mother’s Album), 1990) – and the rear end of a train (the exhibition title piece, 2001).  The exhibition requires you to read the brief captions by the pieces to make sense of some; I don’t normally like doing that, preferring the visuals to do the work, but it’s worth doing here, to get the context of the Soviet setting.

The main tone is set by memory, nostalgia and fairly gentle satire; see the painting below, with its layer of torn, floating fragments, as well as the “Labyrinth” corridor.

My favourite piece is the model “Where is Our Place?” (2002 – 2017);  I missed the giant legs and feet completely until I read the caption.  Some of the paintings have a slightly Peter Doig feel to them (probably the “Snow” ones in Room 7) and the attachment of a severed arm to one item – I forget the reason given – recalled the current Jasper Johns show at the RA; very superficial connection,  I admit.

Ilya Kabakov was never imprisoned or persecuted under the Soviet regime, but showed only to “a close circle of artists and intellectuals”.  He married Emilia in 1992, after emigrating to the States.  It is not clear to me what Emilia’s contribution is – most of the pieces appear to be Ilya’s.

Venice Biennale (on until 26th November)

This year, the theme of the Biennale is “Viva Arte Viva”, a suitably Fellini-esque title for the often staggeringly pretentious pieces on show at the various sites.  This year’s theme is “The Journey”.  I quote from the Short Guide: “Along the journey of the Exhibition’s itinerary, the artists encounter each other; they draw near to, or distance themselves from one another, according to the affinities manifested in the impulses and stimuli which move them, in the challenges they must face, or in the practices they have chosen to follow”.  As far as I can make out, this means that some are like each other and some are not.  To give an idea of some of the pieces on display, I reproduce a few of the notes I jotted down as we went round the Giardini:

  • Huge fat blonde disco video (Divine?)
  • Eskimo paintings (Pootoobok)
  • Snow monkey video
  • Green penis man (Uriburu)
  • Trainer plant lattice
  • Hexagonal quartz pillars
  • Giant cloth moths

Plenty of variety, with the usual dubious connections made in the blurb(s):  migration, refugees, threatened ethnicity, climate change…  Below, three of the best from the national pavilions:

Frank Walter, Antigua and Barbuda Pavilion

“Outsider” painter (brilliant) and sculptor (not so good); lived latter part of his life in an isolated shack/studio, no power or running water, churning out the most vivid and exciting pieces on discarded and improvised supports, like old boxes of photographic equipment.  A couple of examples below – his colours are really piercing.

 

 

Geta Bratescu, Romanian Pavilion

This woman, now in her 90s, we knew from an exhibition at Tate Liverpool a couple of years ago – but there, the artworks were nearly all cloth pieces.  This time, her very varied graphic styles (she has at least three) are on display, ranging from the fiendishly detailed and accurate hands and mouth below to animated cartoon style.

 

 

 

Mark Bradford, US Pavilion

Interesting American artist who works on a giant scale, layering and tearing, scraping and sanding at his multi-coloured placards of paintings.  This huge downward bulge of a work requires you (or me, anyway) to stoop low as you enter the pavilion.

This giant head, if that’s what it is, reminds me a little of a Guston made out of Weetabix, or maybe shown on a giant TV with the reception breaking up.  Fizzing with energy.

Nothing completed by me recently, so best I can do is this work in “progress”.

Work in Progress

Blackpaint

5/11/17

Blackpaint 605 – Naked in the Woods, Slaughter in the Deserts

September 4, 2017

Playground Structure  (Blain Southern Gallery, Hanover Square W1. until 16th September)

Nice exhibition of abstract painters – and one photographer, Jeff Wall – with little to connect them, beyond the fact that they all use a form of grid structure and play around with it, subverting it in various ways.  The exception is again Wall, whose large photograph is of a climbing frame in a suburban park.  For me, the most interesting is Joan Snyder, two of whose works are below.  BS have a great catalogue of Snyder’s stuff, but it’s for display only and I haven’t yet found a copy for sale.  Ed Moses is here too – two of his masking tape pieces, a watercolour and an ink and graphite drawing on paper.

New Squares, Joan Snyder 2015

 

Snyder, Untitled, 1969

 

Gregory Crewdson, Cathedral of the Pines, Photographers Gallery until 8th October

Crewdson photographic scenarios that resemble film stills; you are often looking for a narrative – what’s going on here, why is there a police car parked under the trees, what are these two women doing, waiting outside a hut in the forest?  Often, the question is, why are they half naked or clad only in a dirty slip, gazing into a mirror or out of a window?  The pensive down -dressing is one motif here; others are forest, thick snow, brown wooden interiors, an air of decaying melancholy and sometimes menace.  They resemble film stills, but also rather flat, super-realist paintings.  For comparison, the painter George Shaw occurred to me; also Sally Mann. and maybe a touch of David Lynch…    Worth a visit.

I think this one is titled “Haircut”.

 

BP Portrait Prize, NPG

Interesting this year to see some of the influences in this year’s Turtle Burners’ prize (as well as the astounding technical skill on display, as always):  I saw obvious and several evidence of Lucian Freud, one Stanley Spencer, one Bomberg and one Elisabeth Peyton.  I admired greatly the prize-winning little portrait below.

Gabi, by Henry Christian – Slain

 

Fahrelnissa Zeid, Tate Modern until 8th Ocober

This is on in the new bit of the TM, second level.  She was a Turkish woman, “born into an elite Ottoman family”,  married an Iraqi prince, who was ambassador to Germany, as well as sometime regent of his country.  She was mainly active from the 40s through to the 60s, following abstract styles as shown below, before, oddly,  returning to portraiture.  Who else has done this?  I suppose Malevich (political pressure played a part there though) – maybe Bomberg and Guston too, although not to portraiture really – abstract to figurative, though.  Having mentioned Bomberg,  I thought there was a passing, superficial resemblance in the splintered, multicoloured patterns to Bomberg’s pre -WW1 pictures “Jiu- Jitsu” and “the Baths”.

 

 

 

 

Other new Tate Stuff

Some new work that has shown up in the regular galleries since my last visit:

“Disparates – A little night music”

This drawing by Peter de Francia has obvious echoes of Beckmann’s “Night” and Grosz’s work in general – maybe a touch of Rego too?

 

An assembly by Germaine Richier – echoes of Wifredo Lam.

 

Il Topo (Alexander Jodorowsky, 1970)

 

I’ve finally got hold of this cult movie, championed by John Lennon and kept off the screens for years by Allen Klein.  It’s in a box set with “Fando y Lis” and “The Holy Mountain” and, inexplicably, separate CDs of the musical scores;  padding really.

“Topo” is a quest picture, set in the Mexican  (?) deserts, a lone, black leather-clad gunman with his young (naked) son behind him on the horse.  He soon dumps and apparently forgets him and picks up a couple of beautiful women – one he rescues from a murderous bandit “general”, the other just appears – and embarks on a mission to find several other top gun hands and kill them.  Bloody massacres, throat cutting, castration, whipping, amputees, dwarfs, lynchings and at the end, a suicide obviously inspired by the monks in Vietnam.  But it’s not all fun – there’s a spiritual dimension too.

Aware, as I occasionally am, that criticism is more than just listing possible influences and resemblances, I nevertheless feel compelled to do so – so here goes:

Bunuel, especially Simon of the Desert:  Pasolini (Oedipus Rex, Matthew and the surprisingly sweet soundtrack – music plays a big part in Paso’s films, unlike those of the deaf Bunuel); spaghetti westerns, of course; The Wild Bunch; Toshiro Mifune in Sanjuro etc.; Freaks.  And Fellini, Jodorowsky’s acknowledged maestro. ” Fando” and “Holy Mountain” I’ll deal with next time.

 

Storm Front

Blackpaint

4/09/17

Blackpaint 597 – Striders and Chariots and Modern Art in Madrid

May 22, 2017

Giacometti at Tate Modern

Well I know he’s great and the creator of unmistakeable, iconic figures that define stillness and movement and contain both humour and pathos – but he is a little repetitive.  You say that the repetition is a mark  of his obsessive drive to attain the unattainable,  a heroic, almost tragic striving for perfection…but he is a little same-y.  Maybe I’ve seen too much Giacometti (NPG a while back, Sainsbury Centre in Norwich more recently); but this is a big exhibition with lots of rooms.  Maybe it’s the breathless hero-worship he seems to inspire in the women art lovers of my generation, that I suspect has as much to do with the brooding, rugged, Italian peasant features as the art.

Anyway, the good things:

  • The dancing, or falling figure on the posters.

  • The Chariot figure on wheels.
  • The flint axe-head sculptures, cut off below the shoulders, several of which, to me, seem to resemble the Duke of Edinburgh, Her Majesty the Queen,  Princess Margaret and Charles de Gaulle.

  • The pictures on board or canvas that he has blackened so that they resemble sheets of lead, from which the even darker features of his sitters loom; a change from his usual ochre, orange, grey and black, with thin, ink-like lines.
  • The outsize figures, including the strider in the last room (a ringer for Prince Phillip, if he’d had his hands behind his back); a welcome change from the usual size.  It’s a good exhibition, essential probably, so don’t be put off by my jaded comments.

 

Reina Sofia Museum (of 20th Century Art), Madrid

I’ve just spent four days in Madrid, three of them in art museums, so pretty much enough for three blogs.  The first of these we entered at 4.00pm, “fresh” off the plane – and emerged at closing time, 9.00pm, hungry and dehydrated.  Not because we couldn’t find the exit, but because there was so much excellent art to see.  I’m just going to put up our photos with, here and there, my perceptive and witty comments to add to your visual enjoyment.

Schwitters

Behind glass, so my partner’s form can be made out in the centre, taking the photo and enhancing the quality of the artwork.

Ortiz

Lovely little cubist picture.

Oscar Dominguez

He of Decalcomania fame – lots of Dominguez in this museum.

 

Another Dominguez – The Thrower.

It’s rather hard to make out, but it’s a legless, headless and handless black torso, with a thick shard of glass chopping into it at the top.  Compare these two little assemblages as Surrealist images with the Dali painting below:

Dali, The Invisible Man

It seems to me that the Dominguez pieces express in each case a clear idea, or at most a couple of ideas, succinctly, rather as Magritte does.  They are surrealistic, that is to say contradictory or paradoxical (to be “properly” Surrealist, I think they should also be dreamlike – not sure they are); but they also have clarity.  That, I think, is not the case with the Dali, despite the facility of depiction and the multiple images detract from the painting.   Then again, I don’t like Dali – but then, I’m not that keen on Magritte either, so moving on –

Picasso – no comment necessary.

Picasso again – just to point out the roughness (or texture, or painterliness) of the grey, orange and red areas in the lower picture; unusual, I think, in Picasso’s work and  the better for it – not that the untextured stuff isn’t stupendous…

 

Angeles Santos, The Gathering (1929)

There were several paintings by Santos and another painter, whose name escapes me, f.rom the 20s and 30s, in this style – I include them because they remind me rather strongly of Paula Rego’s work (although I much prefer Rego’s execution).

And then, a roomful of CoBrA stuff, to my surprise:

 

Corneille – I like the yellow with the red line.

Appel, Figures

And then,  rooms of abstract expressionism, Tachisme and pop Art:

Yves Klein, his version of Nike

Tapies, Blue with four Red Bars.  Does what it says on the can.

 

Guerrero – It’s a (huge) matchbook with a few missing.

There’s a lot more to see (Bruce Connor, Bay Area and LA artist, and the making of “Guernica” – both special exhibitions, so NO PHOTO, por favor!) so you’ll need to go to Madrid forthwith.  Next time, the Prado.

Here are a couple of mine:

Seated Back, pastel blue

 

Seated Front, pastel green

Blackpaint

21/05/17

 

Blackpaint 578 – Rauschenberg, Johns, John and Schvendel

December 13, 2016

Rauschenberg at Tate Modern

Have now visited this three times; it is FANTASTIC (sorry to shout).  There is one beautiful room with a huge Combine called “Ace”, which I wrote about last week; see below.  you have to visit though, because the photo doesn’t do it justice.  Blues, yellows, rose red swatches and swags of paint; a wooden plaque with the title stuck at the top. a screwed-up rag rather like a dragon crouching on its surface.

ace

Ace, Rauschenberg (1962)

In the same room, a pair of panels in red and white, one  with a pair of electric fans attached on opposite sides of the painting, a swirling mass of silver, cream and pink brushstrokes enclosed between; the other (below), with wire coils, a watch and a piece of metal bolted on.

 

rob-combine

Also in this room, see and marvel at “Gold Standard”, the gold screen with an HMV dog attached (also an old boot).  “Black Market” and the one in the corner with the two panels divided by a short ladder – they are all great.  This room alone is a breathtaking exhibition, but there is much more:

The silkscreens with paint on, best of which is “Estate” –

rob-estate

Estate 

The cardboard sculptures, like the one below, with the “exploded” section:

rob-cardboard

The “Gluts”, metal scrapyard pieces (see below):

rob-sunset-glut

Sunset Glut

rob-stop-sign-early-winter-glut

Stop Side Early Winter Glut, 1987

And the “Jammers” (flag/banner pieces), “Oracle”, a five-piece sculpture made from stripped-down car door, air conditioning unit et al, all mounted on little wheels, several landmark pieces, such as the erased de Kooning drawing, the “crime scene” bed, “Monogram” (the goat in the tyre, which Alistair Sooke described as a metaphor for homosexual intercourse – a suggestion which visibly shocked a woman curator on an excellent BBC2 documentary on Rauschenberg the other day) – and loads more (dance videos, old socks, parasols and parachutes, bubbling mud, a ladder to a porthole to the wall, a sketchy toothbrush…).

What I like about Rauschenberg is the colour – and the texture, of course, but the colour is beautiful.  He uses that yellow over and over again, the one on the bent fenders in “Sunset Glut”.  They are sort of industrial, but beautiful.

Interesting to see his clear influence on Johns – not surprising, really – who was hanging brooms on his pictures and inserting balls into crevices within pictures, and painting in those big swatches too; maybe he was the influence, but my money is on Rausch, given his later diversity.  Also, there was an Appel abstract, with a bucket dangling from it, which I wrote about some time back; must look it up.

johns-according

According to What, Jasper Johns (1964)

Schvendel

I have to mention “Schwendel” again; in the film “Painters Painting”, Rauschenberg is interviewed about his Red Paintings and speaking about how red has a lot of black in it, he says something like “..it’s the abundance of colour in the painting, rather than the schvendel of the painting…”??  I can’t find the word anywhere; does anyone know what schvendel is?

Elton John’s photo collection, Tate Modern

Rather gone over the top on Rauschenberg, and will be going back there, so only a quick superficial mention of this exhibition in the Switch Room.  Several Penns, mostly, like Stravinsky, celebrities squashed into a corner of a bare room…

penn-stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky, Irving Penn

John seems to have Hoovered up a set of the most well-known images from the USA, USSR (Rodchenko) and elsewhere;

1936 --- Florence Owens Thompson, 32, a poverty-stricken migrant mother with three young children, gazes off into the distance. This photograph, commissioned by the FSA, came to symbolize the Great Depression for many Americans. --- Image by © CORBIS

Dorothea Lange

Also, several of those Man Ray photos with the thin black line round the image, like that of Sir Kenneth Clark’s wife.

The Godfather 

At my eldest son’s wedding on Saturday, speeches over, sitting waiting for the food, on my fourth (or fifth) prosecco refill; looking around –  radiant bride in white, no.1 son, lovely wife, the other two “boys” in sharp suits with cream ties, deep in conversation with their neighbours at table, I had that slow-motion film cliche moment again: a huge, tongue-tied minion, uncomfortable and sweating in his tight suit, approaches me deferentially, hands me an envelope stuffed with banknotes and addressing me as Don Chich, assures me of his everlasting loyalty on the occasion of the marriage of my son….and then I woke up, prosecco coming round again..

lvg1

First of a set of ten paintings on theme of time and place, this is November Lisbon.

Blackpaint

13/12/16

Blackpaint 569 – Vikings, Toby and Wifredo Lam

September 23, 2016

Oslo –  Astrup Fearnley Museum

Why was Blackpaint in Norway?  For the Oslo Marathon, of course.  Since you ask, it was hot, hilly like Helsinki last year and there are roadworks everywhere.  At one point, the route went over a cinder track through a huge building site and into and round a container park – and then back again for another interesting visit, later in the run.

Anyway, the Astrup Fearnley is a private museum on the quayside. very swish area, big sports cars around; two floors of stuff, downstairs Hirst’s bisected cow and calf under glass – made me think of Skip James’ Little Cow and Calf Blues – an Emin tapestry with words, a Rachel Whiteread, a blue Malcolm Morley poster painting, a great, smeary grey Christopher Wool, a Kitaj and a couple of Helen Martins and a Sibony as a reminder of the Venice Biennale.

Upstairs,  80’s German Expressionists, as below:

 

kippenberger

Martin Kippenberger – Sick Egg Boy

 

sigmar-polke

Sigmar Polke – 3 Apparitions.  These are huge, whole wall size.  There are others by Lupertz, Eichendorff and especially Kiefer – a shelf of huge, grey leaden “books” and one of those lead plaques with little girl’s dress and shoes embedded.

 

mystery1

Knut Rose – I Kulturlandskap

 

mystery2

Bjorn Carlsen – Suicide.

Locals, I guess, from the names; I just like the colours, really.  The Carlsen strikes me as a cross between Matisse and Kitaj’s cartoon style.   Great modern building, an hour’s visit to see the lot.

Toby Young 

For some reason, a large number of (male) Oslo residents strongly resemble the Tory “free school” activist; not, perhaps, the stereotype which springs to mind when we think of the Norse Sagas…

young

Young

viking

Viking

 

Wifredo Lam, the EY Exhibition, Tate Modern

Yes, I always thought it was Wilfredo – and so it should have been, but it was misspelt when his birth was registered, it appears.

lam

I found the Lam to be a disappointment.  Very strong Picasso influence, especially Minotaur and Guernica; very colourless – where colour used to any extent, sort of all colours, as if random and pastel-y; almost an anthroposophical look, in loose, slanting strokes.  Overwhelmingly black, white, beige; spiky (like Sutherland), fork tines, wheels, swords, knives, ploughshares, small round heads/faces, physical discombobulation.  Lots of ritual figures, Santoria, Yoruba.  It livened up for me a bit when he stayed with Jorn at Albissola – I liked “The Brush” – totally uncharacteristic, spatters all over it.  A setof smaller framed works, on paper I think, figures in which recall Bruegel and Bosch.

In the first room, a couple of peasant portraits and a self portrait show what a fabulous draughstman he was.  So, influences and resemblances: Picasso overwhelmingly, Sutherland, Picabia maybe, Bruegel, Jorn…

yellow one 2

Yellow Runner

I know, it’s an old one.

Blackpaint

23.9.16

Blackpaint 498 – Ice Cream at Tate Modern, Breasts at the RA

June 7, 2015

Agnes Martin (Tate Modern)

Happy Holiday 1999 Agnes Martin 1912-2004 ARTIST ROOMS  Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00179

Happy Holiday

This is the new exhibition at Tate Modern – those familiar with Martin’s work will know what to expect: the palest “ice cream” pastels (Neapolitan) , vanishing into near invisibility, stripes, huge grids done in faint graphite with tiny squares, a roomful of a dozen white canvases, occasionally, background fields varied by tiny, pale, differently coloured blobs…  Her early work, influenced to a degree by other abstractionists, resembles Pasmore somewhat.  Strangely, her later work appears, to a dissenter like me, to have more going on – a coloured stripe through the centre, a blue square, two black triangles with the tops snipped off.  This seems the “wrong” way round, somehow.  Still, if you emptied out your pictures early on, I suppose you start putting things in again, if you live long enough.

Like Rothko’s Seagram pictures, this is art that I think requires a contemplative attitude in the viewer that I am unable to sustain.  I hope one day to be able to appreciate them more fully.

My Blake Calendar

Below is the picture for June.  It shows Oberon, Titania and Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I find it enormously encouraging that even artists of William Blake’s taste and ability are capable of turning out crappy pictures occasionally.

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing circa 1786 William Blake 1757-1827 Presented by Alfred A. de Pass in memory of his wife Ethel 1910 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N02686

National Portrait Gallery

I wrote about this beautiful little portrait of Hardy a few months ago.

hardy strang

 Thomas Hardy, William Strang

A little while later, I bought a 70s Penguin paperback of EM Forster’s “The Longest Journey”; on the cover was this picture, also by Strang, called “Bank Holiday”.

Bank Holiday 1912 William Strang 1859-1921 Presented by F. Howard through the National Loan Exhibitions Committee 1922 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N03036

I think it’s great – totally unlike the Hardy; for some reason, it makes me think of Norman Rockwell.

Forster and Woolf

While I’m on the subject of Forster and the above novel, I found it interesting that he, like Virginia Woolf (Lighthouse, Jacob’s Room, The Voyage Out), occasionally kills his characters off with quite brutal suddenness.  He does in this, anyway; I wonder if there was any influence, and if so, in which direction?

 Back to the NPG

Below are two more arresting paintings, both by John Collier.  The first is, of course, Charles Darwin; the second, the Labour and later, Liberal, politician, John Burns.  I suppose it’s partly the full square stance of both subjects and Burns’ hands on hips – defiance? frankness?  I have to say that Darwin’s picture reminds me faintly of an orang utan – in a good way – but I think that may be because it was parodied in a cartoon and I “see” the parody…

collier darwin

Darwin, John Collier 

by John Collier, oil on canvas, 1889

 

John Burns, John Collier

RA Summer Exhibition 

Proper review of this next week, but in the meantime, here is by far the best painting in the exhibition – the fact that Marion Jones is my partner has no bearing, obviously, on my opinion.

marion RA

 

Bars and Triangles, Marion Jones

Diebenkorn, RA

I made my third visit to the brilliant Diebenkorn exhibition after the RA Summer Show – I started seeing great little paintings within paintings in the earlier abstracts, Albuquerque and Urbana series; little sections that would make paintings in themselves.  I started to see slight parallels with some of Nicolas de Stael’s landscapes, especially “Sea Wall”.  But most startlingly, I saw breasts everywhere.  In “Albuquerque 57”  (below) for instance, there is a very clear sketch of a pair of breasts that I hadn’t noticed before.  After that, I saw them everywhere in these abstracts, mostly in the shape of the lobes.

diebenkorn berkeley 57

 

Just above the green and yellow rectangular shapes.

To finish, here is a minimalist work of mine, in homage to Agnes Martin:

Close of a long day

Close of a Long Day

Blackpaint

6.6.15

Blackpaint 466 – Sigmar’s Laundry, Egon’s frogs, Will’s Erection

October 26, 2014

Sigmar Polke at Tate Modern;

Some small paintings and collages, but a lot of huge ones.  Generally, dull but intense colours; sounds like a contradiction, but what I mean is that the colours are deep but they don’t glow – they’re deadened, somehow and many are on browning paper or newsprint.  Deep blues, reds and greens, several deep dark violet/indigo paintings that change as you move in relation to them (Chris Ofili maybe saw them).  The dots are there, as you can see below, often splotchy and uneven, intentionally so, of course.

sigmar polke 1

Several of the collages are composed of pretty tame cut-outs from old soft porn magazines and there are a couple of big “sex” paintings – two women wringing out a huge, towel – like, limp penis and another of a man giving rear action to a face- down woman in a laundry room.

There is  a room of Auschwitz/Berlin Wall watchtowers against banal, wallpaper backgrounds; this one against a flock of geese.

 

sigmar polke 2

There is a big print-like painting with a horned devil, amongst many other things; and some Richter-y  “Nazi family” type photoprints with the dots – and the old resin covered pictures… and much more.  Somehow, not as playful as previous Polke shows I remember…

Schiele at the Courtauld

William Boyd was right about the quality of these drawings and paintings.  They are all pretty small, mostly A2 or less, I think.   However, they are staggeringly assured, varied in execution and full of little presentational devices like the white border around the picture below and the strange positions of the figures on the page.  Some of them lie forming an inner frame to the picture, or are tucked in a corner, or have feet or head cut off by the edge of the page.  You get the impression that he drew fast and aggressively, making no errors (bet that’s wrong).  The first couple, of a young girl and a small child look like Marlene Dumas without the blurring.  The child is podgy – but there’s not much podge around in the rest of the exhibition.  The males, particularly, are stick-thin and flayed, with thick bristles on their legs and around their penises – they brought to my mind frogs, pinned out on a dissection table.  the legs look sort of crunchy…

Euan Uglow and maybe Jenny Savile were the other artists that occurred to me, from the purple, brown and green colours used on the torsos and limbs; like maps, sometimes.  Fabulous, strange, explicit drawings – I wonder what he would have gone on to do if he hadn’t been killed by the flu epidemic.

schiele2.

Also at the Courtauld – 

In the Medieval Room, a predella by Borghese di Piero, one of which see below; glowing reds, orange and carmine maybe – I’m hopeless on colours – used in a strange representation of the trial of Sts. Julitta and Quiricus.  Up there with Duccio, we think.

 

borghese

 

Shark, Will Self 

I’m starting to like the challenge; Self has just brought Ulysses in, in the form of an erection he characterises as stately, plump Buck Mulligan (not his own erection, by the way, but one of his character’s).  You don’t get that in Proust – or not so far (10% now).

 

 

010

 

Target for Tonight

Blackpaint

26.10.14