Posts Tagged ‘Teniers’

Blackpaint 409 – Baroque Carrots, Bertolucci and Lautrec in the House

August 31, 2013

Guggenheim (Cont.) – Riotous Baroque

Concluding last week’s blog on Bilbao; “Riotous Baroque one of those exhibitions that mix modern works with 17th century and Renaissance paintings on “similar” themes (sex, death, supernatural, drunkenness, riot, religious transport, violent death etc., etc…)

The old paintings include Teniers animals aping men, drinking, spewing, fighting, wearing clothes; witches’ sabbaths, flying ghost ships, gaping-mouthed devils, drunken oglings and gropings in Dutch taverns, mythological figures tearing their own innards out – all good stuff.  There are three, big, beautiful paintings of saints in ecstasies on huge dark backgrounds, that could have been Caravaggios or Zurbarans – but turned out to be by de Ribera, de Piola and Jan van Bathurnen.  Never heard of the last two.

The modern stuff:  Jurgen Teller photographs of Charlotte Rampling and Raquel Zimmerman standing naked amidst white baroque statuary – rather like those Richard Hamilton pictures recently at the National Gallery, naked hoovering and the rest; Glenn Brown doing the usual thing of old-style pictures, swirly, sickly, layered paint, simulated decay; several simple, patchy paintings by Dana Schulz that recall Gary Hume; a painting by Urs Fischer of a woman in an Ingres dress, her face and body obscured by an enormous erect carrot, peeled, ridged and glistening – what could it represent?

fischer carrot

Actually, this is one of a number Fischer has done of portraits with face obscured by vegetable or fruits such as bananas and lemon slices, so perhaps I have misread any phallic significance.  Fischer, I find, is a man; I’d thought the Urs was short for Ursula, like a German friend of ours.

Finally, three large white Albert Oelhens.  Sprays and splashes and  swatches of delicious paint, mauve, mint green, crimson, over his beautifully applied CGI images – on one, a metallic, psychedelic starburst; on another, a big “per cent” sign.

albert Oelhen

Toulouse Lautrec Museum, Albi (Southern France)

Stunning town and so are the paintings in the TL museum.  Woman on a Divan,  Comtesse Adele de Toulouse Lautrec (1895) –  my partner says she has Cezanne hands – Carmen la Rousse, tousled hair, startled eyes;

lautrec3

sketches for posters fabulous, with a depth that the posters don’t have; Caudieux the actor; the brothel pictures, women in chemises, lounging on divans, in bed together…

lautrec4

The woman doing her hair – that white and black on brown board; it looks like pastel and charcoal, but it’s paint.

lautrec2

 

Inspired me to try same; results at bottom.

The Conformist

Watched Bertolucci’s great film again, and found it more balletic and operatic – without the singing – than last time.  Trintignant’s gliding walk in the fedora and overcoat, Sanda’s Lady Penelope face, the dance of the two women, the Paris shops by night with the blue windows, the Caesar-esque assassination in the forest, Sanda’s face a blood mask…  great film.

The Dreamers

More Bertolucci; Paris 1968 this time.  Great scene where the three protagonists race through the museum in imitation of “Bande a Part”; the run is intercut with the original film, the runners interchanging, colour to b and w…

Sweet Tooth

Reading McEwan’s last book; marred only by too much local colour.  I’m sure that all the London pubs and bands mentioned are accurate – I know they are, I was there too – but they can be distracting.  BUT – the book is written from the point of view of a woman; I can’t think of any other male writer who has done this, apart from Joyce with the Molly Bloom bit at the end of Ulysses.

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Blackpaint

Life Drawings from Millman Street

31.08.13

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Blackpaint 288

August 11, 2011

Santiago de Compostella

It means Saint James of the Field of Stars and refers to James the Greater (there were two disciples  named James, the Greater and the Less), whose bones allegedly rest here in the Cathedral, having been stolen and smuggled away from Alexandria in the night.  Perhaps at odds with the disciple image is James’ reputation as the Moor Killer; he is supposed to have turned up to support the Christian side in a battle with the Moors  and killed 60, 000 of them.  There is a statue in the cathedral of him on horseback, slashing his sword down, presumably on the head of an enemy; in  his big, floppy pilgrim’s hat, he resembles a Remington version of General Custer or Buffalo Bill.

The Cathedral has some curious sights for those not of the faith; there is no escaping an Indian, or perhaps Thai aspect to the numerous turrets, the elaborate altarpieces and the general profusion of decoration;  It reminded me of Fatehpur Sikri in Rajahstan.  The figures of Christ and the madonna were strangely doll-like; one, Christ with sword and orb (actually it might have been a Spanish king, but I think it was Christ) looked as if it might step down stiff-legged like a Golem and start slashing away.  There were several booths containing priests ready to hear confession – one had a placard listing the languages he spoke, another was apparently fast asleep – giving the impression of fortune tellers awaiting clients.

You go up the narrow steps behind the gold – is it the sun, or the head of Christ or the Virgin? – thing on the main altar and straight down the other side, no time to linger.  As you descend, you look up and there are two huge cherubs hanging above your head like Ron Mueck babies, but not quite so lifelike.  The descent into the crypt, to pass the silver box containing relics of the saint, is conducted at a similarly brisk rate.

Tapestries

There are threee sets of tapestries in the Cathedral museum which are  “based on” designs by Rubens, Teniers and Goya.  The Rubens ones have the usual Pugwash women, but with rather crude facial features; they show Achilles being dipped in the Styx, and some Greek love myths.  The Teniers are scenes of village life; dancing, drunkenness, rowdies being chucked out of celebrations, a man urinating discreetly in a corner, a skating scene and possibly some work going on.  The Goyas were various; a boy trying to trap a bird, children playing drums – the characteristic things were the hats, tall and pointy for soldiers, curling and oddly drooping at the  sides for those matador jobs.  Also the stance – that shoulders back, bum thrust out, hand on hip stance for the bully-boy soldier.

Picasso 

Free to see, in a private gallery nearby, 60-odd etchings by Picasso from 1931 – 33.  They contain some wonderful images of course; the one I know best is the Minotaur relaxing with a glass of wine and a female admirer.  Many are on the theme of the artist and model, but the one that stuck in my mind was one that contained two Guernica horses, done several years before the famous painting.  There were also two that showed a woman asleep on a table or the artist’s lap, which foreshadowed the famous Dream (the one where half her face appears to resolve into a penis).  They were entitled the Vollard Collection.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The Philip K Dick book on which “Blade Runner” was based, of course.  I’d never read it before and was surprised to find he never used the term Blade Runner (it comes from William Burroughs, via the script writers presumably).  They must also have come up with Roy Baty’s famous lines about the shoulder of Orion and the Tannhauser Gate – they are nowhere to be found in the Dick original.  On the other hand, the film left out the cult of Mercerism, Buster Friendly,  the coveting of animals and  the philosophising.

So, two distinct works of art; Ridley Scott’s stripped-down, cold-hearted action thriller film and Dick’s original – little character development,  perfunctory in places, but fizzing with ideas.  I think all his novels are like this; he can’t be bothered to finish them before starting to develop some new idea that has occurred to him.  The short stories, conversely, are beautifully succinct and focused.

Blackpaint

11.08.11