Posts Tagged ‘Tate St Ives’

Blackpaint 648 – Cornwall, Caland, Goncharova

June 26, 2019

Tate St. Ives

This was like a visit to a load of old friends.  The light in the all white building, with the huge, vivid Patrick Heron window and the flanking mirror windows set at angles to display the beach and sea, seems to set these mostly abstract works off beautifully; the way some of them are spaced out on the ground floor foyer, the Joan Mitchell and Peter Lanyon below, for instance, shows them to their best advantage,  Below, some of my favourites:

Winifred Nicholson, not Ben, as might be expected

 

Another Winifred Nicholson, by way of contrast to the above.

 

Great view through archway; sculpture by Lanyon, painting Brian Wynter (don’t know who did the pots)

 

Winifred Barns-Graham, “Red Form”

 

Karel Appel

 

Appel (detail) – you can get an idea of how thick the paint is laid on.

 

Alan Davie, “Fish God” – love the bent shark penis…

 

Joan Mitchell – lovely brush sweeps, drips and colours, as always

 

Peter Lanyon, “Thermals” – you’re in that churning ocean…

 

Huguette Caland, Tate St. Ives until 1st September

Mostly work from the late 60s and 70s, Lebanese/American artist, specialising in stylised erotica; lips, breasts and bottoms, to be more exact, as can be seen from examples below.  Some of the drawings we saw at the Venice Biennale by her a couple of years ago were far more graphic than these, as I recall…  She was the daughter of the Lebanon’s first president, by the way, so probably no advantage there.

 

I like the fuzziness of the line.. wonder what the inspiration was…

 

A style distinctly reminiscent of Beatles record covers, “Yellow submarine”, perhaps – and maybe a touch of Terry Gilliam?

 

The forerunner of all those bare tits on plastic aprons, worn by barbecuing men…

 

Natalia Goncharova, Tata Modern until 8th September

Pre-Revolutionary painter; strange, we tend (I do anyway) to think of the 1917 revolution kicking off a period of wild experiment, creativity and openness in the arts – whereas it was all already going on, with the likes of Goncharova.

 

I like her chunky, big-footed women, roughly carved out of wood by the look of them.

 

Touch of Gauguin about this one.

 

Not keen on this – too Lempiska for me –  but it demonstrates the range.

 

Costume design, not sure for what, maybe le Coq d’Or; for my money, her costume designs are better than her paintings.  There’s a great film excerpt of a ballet performance with Goncharova’s costumes, I think in Canada in the 50s…

Novel on Yellow Paper, Stevie Smith

I thought this would be a quick easy read when I picked it up as a 2nd hand Penguin Modern Classic in Suffolk recently.  It’s very thin, after all, and there’s a faux naif self-portrait by Smith on the cover – looks childish.  Turns out that it’s tougher going than Virginia Woolf and even as difficult as some bits of Joyce (not Finnegan, obviously – although she does have a sort of arch private way of expressing herself, very irritating at times).  I think that Glenda Jackson played her in a film and, I suppose it’s suggestion, but I can’t imagine anyone’s voice other than Jackson’s, as I read it.  No discernible plot – a collection of random remembrances and observations on all sorts; religion, education, sex, Germany, Nazism (it was written in the 30s),,

Prater Violet, Christopher Isherwood

Also thin, Penguin Modern Classic, written in the 30s, a portrait of a Jewish emigre film director, making a pot boiler romantic fantasy movie in London, with Isherwood as the young writer assisting him.  MUCH easier read than Smith; now to re-read “Mr. Norris Changes Trains” and the other Berlin books.

A couple of collages and a couple of paintings to end with; I think I’ve found a sort of 60s SF American paperback cover style with the blue and yellow men below.

Seated Woman Collage

 

 

Standing Woman Collage

 

Blue Man

 

Yellow Man

Blackpaint, 26/06/19

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 450 – Pantomime Horses, the Royal Messenger and the Cornish Caves

June 13, 2014

Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood and Alfred Wallis at Dulwich Picture Gallery  

This follows on nicely from the exhibition at Tate St.Ives; Winifred is the star for me, in this early period, which more or less finishes when Ben began to do his geometric abstracts.  His paintings feature some rather irritating pantomime horses, not quite with the knees pointing the wrong way, but nearly.  Also, he seems to have nicked some sailing ships from Alfred Wallis.  The style is termed faux-naive, and it strikes a false note with me. for sure.

Winifred’s still lifes of flowers strike me as bearing a slight resemblance to Paul Nash, not so much content as surface and hue.  There are also two portraits, one of a family looking out at the viewer and one of a father tending to a child.  In addition to Nash, there is a hint of Stanley Spencer and perhaps, in the baby, Wallis and Gromit.

.winifred-nicholson-father-and-son-19271

Anyway, there’s a fine triangular Wallis of ships passing before icebergs, and Ben Nicholson’s rather shabby first abstraction, which has a charm of its own.  Still the best Winifred I’ve seen, though, is the Window Sill at Lugano, which is at the Tate St.Ives show.  The colours remind me of the great de Kooning poster which is in the Member’s Room of the Tate Modern.  Can’t find the DK painting in any of my books; maybe its a detail.

winifred nicholson

Winifred Nicholson

Tate St. Ives

Some paintings and sculptures from the current show that I didn’t mention last week:

Riopelle, Perspectives

Little ingots of white and black paint massed together in his usual style against areas of deep, cold blue and dark red.

Perspectives-Jean-Paul-Riopelle-1956

 

Frink

A human torso, half legs and arms, spread out like an animal carcase.

Hepworth, Torso

Beautiful bust of a heavy- hipped woman.

hepworth torso

 

Lanyon, Turn Around

One of several intriguing box-type constructions.

Turn Around 1963-4 by Peter Lanyon 1918-1964

 

Niki de Saint Phalle, Dracula

Hard to describe, so here’s a picture –

niki_de_saint_phalle_dracula

National Gallery 

A couple more things to look out for in the newly opened basement gallery (wednesdays and Sundays):

The Battle of Valmy

That poor hussar lying dead on his back, with a cannonball hole in his breastplate – why has he got no boots on?

valmy

The Madonna and Child – I think it’s in the style of Duccio.

Dubufe – the Surprise

Wonder what it is?

dubufe-surprise-NG457-fm

 

DH Lawrence, the White Peacock

I was going on last week about how Lawrence larded every page of this, his first novel, with nature description.  On reflection, I think its more than just the urge to describe; I think nature is almost another “character” in the narrative – it is stitched in to frame and echo the unfolding of the story in a way that transcends simple scene-setting; but I’m often wrong.

Orwell, Animal Farm

There’s a lovely passage in Crick’s biography, worth quoting in full:

“When Queen Elizabeth, whose literary adviser was Osbert Sitwell, sent the Royal Messenger to Secker and Warburg for a copy in November, he found them utterly sold out and had to go with horse, carriage, top hat and all, to the anarchist Freedom Bookshop, in Red Lion Street, where George Woodcock gave him a copy”.

The Killer Inside Me

Michael Winterbottom film from a Jim Thompson novel, starring Casey Affleck as a psychopathic deputy sheriff in Texas 50s and Jessica Alba as his prostitute girlfriend, who he beats to death quite coldly as part of a double murder, when it suits him.  Later, he does the same thing to his fiancee.  A horrible film, with two repulsive sequences – possibly three – which I found very compelling too; had to watch it to the end.  Maybe there’s something wrong with me.  Affleck is brilliant; you want to beat him to death.

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Cornish Cave Painting 3

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What the Landscape Became

Blackpaint 13/06/14

Blackpaint 449 – Glassy Seas at the National, Harbours and Wrecks at St.Ives

June 6, 2014

National Gallery – the Basement

There’s a “new” room downstairs in the NG, open to the public on Wednesdays and Sundays; not new at all, of course, but newly opened up.  You go through to room 15 where the Turners and Claudes are, and downstairs from there.

It’s like the “B” List; everywhere you look, you see something that looks like a copy of a famous painting elsewhere (sometimes upstairs).  My guess is that they are not copies – they’re not THAT similar – but maybe done from some sort of template that was going the rounds.

There’s so much down there that it will take a couple of blogs at least – but here are some highlights:

The Workshop of the Master of the Female Half – Lengths; St. John on Patmos.  Lovely little painting, I thought with shades of Giorgione.

master-female-half-lengths-saint-john-patmos-NG717-fm

A big, cartoon-y Signorelli, The Circumcision.  Who is the evil -looking character in the headcloth?  Dodgy eyes, if ever I saw them.  Unfortunately, can’t find a good repro on line, so you will have to visit to see what I mean.

Zanobi Strozzi’s Annunciation.  Like Lippi maybe, but with an astonishing  Expressionist floor.

strozzi-annunciation-NG1406-fm

Fra Angelico, St. Romulus – another vivid little beauty.

Then, there are the lookalikes:

Mano d’Oggiono, Virgin and Child – that fat baby leaning forwards, arms outstretched, reminded me of the Christ in the Virgin of the Rocks, the one with the unhealthy looking baby making the blessing gesture.

Gio. di Nicola, an Anthony Abbot, just like the frowning Masaccio? one upstairs.

A St Catharine with a face just like Leonardo’s St. Anne.

Venusti, a “follower of Michelangelo”; a small Holy Family with a dark green background that reminded me of that fabulous Raphael with John the Baptist and a pope…

Then, there is Clays, a Dutch painter who does glassy green, calm seas, in the way you look to Cuyp for cows.

clays-ships-lying-dordrecht-NG815-fm

Loads more; its a great visit.

Tate St.Ives -Modern Art and St.Ives, International Exchanges 1915 – 1965

First, there are a lot of “old friends” here, if you go to the London Tates much:

Franz Kline’s Meryon, the giant black bridgehead;

Gorky’s Waterfall;

Helion’s colourful little abstract;

Winifred Nicholson’s “yellow patch” abstract from Tate B;

Lanyon’s Thermal and Wreck;

Hockney’s Third Love Painting;

The big, blue Clyfford Still – you know the one;

The Rothko, that yellow-green “window” one;

Ben Nicholson, Gabo, Moholy- Nagy, Van Doesberg, Margaret Mellis, all have geometrical pieces; and there’s an El Lissitsky, which is interesting,  in that it is the only painting or construction of this lot that contains an illusory (desk-shaped) 3D image.  Some of the others have depth, but it is created by layering.

lissitsky

Here are a few of the other treasures on view – again, I’ll need another blog to do justice to the exhibition;

de Kooning, Zot – a mini “Excavation”.

DeKooning, Zot, 1949,339

Alan Davie, Bird Singing; little, dirty – fantastic.

(c) Alan Davie; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Roger Hilton, Grey day by the Sea.  So simple…couldn’t find a good one online.

William Scott, Harbour.

william scott st ives

Serge Poliakoff, Abstract Composition; Blue, brown, red, yellow.

poliakoff

 

And of course the Lanyon paintings…

Wreck 1963 by Peter Lanyon 1918-1964

Wreck, Peter Lanyon

Anyway, more on St.Ives and NG next blog.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Struck again by Orwell’s concept of Doublethink, the ability to believe two absolutely contradictory things simultaneously – it seems to me that this is extremely common, perhaps even universal.  I know that I’m capable of it, and even comfortable with it.  Good example in the paper today, Richard Dawkins talking about people who dismiss the idea of Father Christmas as nonsense, but profess a belief in a supernatural god figure…

 

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 Cornish Cave Paintings, Blackpaint

6th June 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 187

September 5, 2010

Tate St.Ives, “Grid”

The last part of this exhibition (see Blackpaint 185/6) is the minimalist bit; an area of stillness after the surfacy excitement of “Gesture” (going for Pseud’s Corner here; never know your luck).

De Stael

“Marathon”.  A surprise to find him here; I think his pictures usually fit more with the stuff next door.  Anyway, not a good one, boring for such a giant.  Blacks and greys and beige, a sort of spray of linear marks from the centre – looked like a collage on black felt.

Carl Andre

The zinc and steel plain squares, like a deficient chess board – 36, I think – which you step on accidentally and jump back, then realise you are allowed.

Naum Gabo 

A typical Gabo structure, maybe 2 ft by 2ft, delicate white thread shrouds around a central rectangle.

Mary Martin

A wall plaque with shiny metal pointed shapes studding it or stuck on.  Usually to be seen at Tate Modern.

Donald Judd

One of his signature “ladders” of flat, square, metallic platforms going up the wall.

Ryman

A completely white rectangle; this one had narrow white tape around its perimeter, securing it to the aluminium frame. 

Ben Nicolson

A small, interlocking collection of blocks, all white.

Eva Hesse

A piece of graph paper, with a central rectangle made by Hesse drawing a circle within each square and filling in the outside edges.  Since this could not be done “perfectly” – there would always be a touch of human inexactitude – this created a wobbly effect, setting up a tension with the perfection of the grid squares; or so the label said.

I was unaware of this minimalist aspect of Hesse’s work, knowing only the Riopolle-like pictures reproduced in the “Gestural Painting” book and the haunting suspended blocks clothed in linen.  Not keen on this.

Moholy – Nagy

A beautiful white and grey painting with black and red squares and lines, very Nicolsonish, that was in the Van Doesburg exhibition, I think.  No wrong, just checked  the catalogue.  Must have been in the fantastic MN/Albers exhibition at TM a couple of years ago.

Mondrian

Now, I’m sure this was in the Van Doesburg; the squares painting with grey instead of the more characteristic white.  From 1920, if I’m right.

Morellet

Never before heard of this artist.  Interlocking shapes like crosses and T shapes on the side with a line at both ends, on white.  Creates a wobbly effect, a bit like Oiticica.

There was also an Albers and a Sol LeWitt, but took no notes on them – sorry, chaps. And a “Black painting” by …….

Safe to say, I preferred the gesturals next door; but who knows, maybe I’ll suddenly get it and be converted.

Barbara Hepworth’s House

I wrote about this in last blog.  I hadn’t remembered that she died in a fire in her studio.  Some of her stuff is so like Moore’s – who copied whom, I wonder – and Gabo, the holes and strings.  I was reminded too of the great story in John Bird’s book about the St. Ives lot, where Terry Frost or maybe Dennis Mitchell, doing some menial labouring for Hepworth, were locked in a conservatory by her while she showed  round some bigwigs.  Frost, or Mitchell, was taken short and had to piss in a pot which leaked out under the door and between the feet of Hepworth and her party; They all pretended not to notice.

Listening to White Lightning, Waylon Jennings.

“A city slicker came and he said “I’m tough;

“Guess I’d like to try some of that mountain stuff”,

He took him a sip and then he drunk it right down,

And I heard him say before he hit the ground,

“Mighty, mighty pleasin’, your Daddy’s corn squeezin’s”,

Ooooorgh – White Lightnin’!” 

An old one.

Blackpaint

05.09.10

Blackpaint 186

September 3, 2010

Tate St. Ives “Object, Gesture, Grid” (cont.)

The “Gesture” room presumably refers to Abstract Expressionism and its St.Ives co-abstractionists (but see previous blogs on whether Lanyon, for example,  can truly be called an abstract painter; its a convenience term).

Appel

First, a great Appel called “Amorous Dance”, the movement vaguely recalling that long jazzy Pollock in the Tate Modern.  Pollocky looping lines on basic grey, but close up the usual swirl of multi-coloured ropes of paint, so thick they look like waves and hummocks.  The painting’s under glass, maybe to hold the paint in.  It looks dingy close up, but clean and beautiful from 8 feet away.

Feiler

Paul Feiler, the only living artist here, I think – that must be an odd feeling – white, grey, black and brown, scraped surface, disc, recalling the Mellis next door.  The Feiler is great but has spawned a host (argh! cliche!) of imitations in little art galleries around the country.

Pollock

“Yellow Islands”, squares of yellow, peeping through swirls of white and black, on raw canvas(?).  At the edges, the black has blotted in to the canvas like a Frankenthaler.  A big blotch of black in the centre has run down.  Lose yourself in the layers, working out what he did first.

Rothko

One of those huge black and red arch things that he did for the Seagram, and that were on display in a sort of inner sanctum in the Tate Modern a while ago.  Out of that context, I think it’s empty.  Controversial, I know.

Bryan Wynter

“Riverbed”, cream, grey, red, interlocking key-like shapes, one of which, hugely enlarged, I’m sure I saw in Barbara Hepworth’s garden later.  Also from the Tate M.

Sandra Blow 

“Vivace”, huge white canvas with a pot of paint apparently flung at it to make a big “V” shape, recalling a simplified bird in flight.  This splosh has been allowed to run down in thin trickles and then the canvas has been turned on its side.  Blow has then attached collaged strips of different colours to the right hand side.

Patrick Heron

A very Joan Mitchell- like painting – in her later, Monet-ish manner.  Dabs of bright colour, some allowed to trickle, all over canvas; then partly obscured by white, snow-like blobs.

Hans Hoffman

“Nulli Secundus” – deep red on black “floor”, cream/green toothpaste sweeps downwards.  Blocks of fizzing powder blue at the top.  how does this all work? It shouldn’t but it does.

Twombly 

A sculpture!  It’s small, like all the others; a foot or 18″ tall.  It’s bronze, and like a cannon, or the juggernaut – never would have guessed Twombly.

Lanyon

“Wreck”.  It’s like Noah’s Ark, resting on top of the soundhole of a guitar – you can see the strings.  Sea greens and lemon yellow – shouldn’t  work, but it does (that should be the title of this exhibition).

David Smith

Nearly forgot David Smith – fantastic sculpture, like a dream farm implement… What do I do with this?

de Kooning

“The Visit” – always save the best to last.  A pink woman, with her legs wide open, sweeping, gestural brushstrokes at the top, those pastel greens and yellows and red splatters…. he’s just the boss, surely.

Can’t stomach writing about minimalism tonight.  Back tomorrow, keep reading.

Listening to What Made Milwaukee Famous, Jerry Lee Lewis:

“It’s late, and she is waiting,

And I know I should go home;

But every time I start to leave, they play another song;

Then someone buys another round, and wherever drinks are free,

What made Milwaukee famous has made a loser out of me …”

Old shit one, but I like it.

Blackpaint

03.08.10

Blackpaint 185

September 2, 2010

Tate St.Ives

Just returned from Cornwall after two visits to the above in two days – to see the same shows, in case I missed anything.  Such is my level of dedication.

Lily van der Stokker – “No Big Deal Thing”

Pastel colours, child-like, or more accurately, 70’s hippy- type, childish drawings, brightly coloured sofas, ordinary, everyday things, celebrating the normal.  Some huge murals, many drawings on A4 paper.  I heard a gallery guide explaining why this was a feminist approach (ordinary women’s world, child- friendly, claiming and celebrating the territory, etc.)  The booklet says she “challenges and engages with the legacies of Feminism, exploring ideas often thought of as forbidden to contemporary art – the decorative, the sentimental and the “nice”” .  I failed to detect any note of irony in the work, so why the inverted commas for “nice”?  I was reminded of Post it notes on fridges, children’s crayon drawings, people who dot “i’s” with smiley faces.

I wondered what, say, Joan Mitchell or Marlene Dumas would have made of it.  She has a point really – art can’t all be about dramatic stuff like sex, death, despair, the sublime and so on; that’s mostly for the boys  – it should also be about a nice ice cream, or a trip to the petting farm with your daughters.

Object: Gesture: Grid – St.Ives and the International Avant – garde 

This is the other exhibition on at the moment and there is some great stuff in it.  A ludicrous understatement really; must be about 50 million quids-worth if it ever came on the market.

There are three rooms, the first of which is “Object” – works influenced by Cubism and Surrealism.  There’s a Braque, a Picasso, Giacometti, Hepworth and Ernst – but I have to say, although I registered the presence of these, I have no memory of them except the Ernst, which had one of those corrugated, brown, hairy surface areas like a doormat, that he does.

Tunnard

The painting that strikes you first – I watched other punters, most went straight over to it – was by John Tunnard, called “Tol Pedn”.  this is a place name, so I suppose it makes this work something like a Lanyon, in that it may be an exploded landscape.  it looks nothing like a Lanyon, however; more like a Paul Nash surreal effort.  It has sharply defined, red/pink arch things, grey areas, carefully drawn lines – striking.

Mellis

The Margaret Mellis is a blue wooden disc on drift- and scrapwood backing, like a flattened toy handcart; a beachcomber’s “glut”.

William Scott

The Scott is an unadorned and only slightly simpified mackerel, arching across a dish against a black background.  Unusually naturalistic for Scott, must be early. 

Paolozzi

Lovely, iron oblong ring sculpture, upper “arm” garlanded with odd objects, VERY much like a David Smith.

Elizabeth Frink

With the Tunnard, the most memorable thing in this room; I think its called “Harbinger Bird”.  About 2 ft tall, leaning forward on long legs, an indistinct but sinister sort of head.. I think I’ve seen it on a Penguin book, maybe Ted Hughes?

Alfred Wallis

A fine little ship on a creamy sea, otherwise all greys and greens; I liked this much more than I expected, it was very clear, correct and strong.

That’s the first room; “Gesture” tomorrow – don’t miss it, as it includes Pollock, Hoffman, Appel, Rothko…..

10th May 1941 (WIP)

Blackpaint