Posts Tagged ‘the Sistine Ceiling’

Blackpaint 197

September 21, 2010

Michelangelo and the Sistine Ceiling

The more I read about this, the more incredible M’s achievement seems to me.  I saw Tim Marlow on TV the other day asserting that he had assistants and to have completed the task without help in four years does seem a tall order (cliche – what’s that from?).  Ross King, who has written a book on this, “Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling”, asserts he had up to a dozen helpers, doing painting as well as plastering and labouring and that signs of their brushwork can be discerned throughout.  I haven’t read the book yet, so I don’t know what evidence he offers.

He does say, however, that after the first section (Noah and the Flood, presumably), he increasingly tended to do the work himself .  Other works, the Taschen by Gilles Neret for example, say that helpers did no more than plastering and fetching and carrying, and that he did all the painting himself.  What makes the job even more staggering is that he knew nothing about fresco painting when he started, thinking of himself as a sculptor rather than a painter.

The Flood

Some strange things going on in the Flood, which are not in Genesis: a woman in a boatful of survivors is about to clobber a man with a stump of wood.  It looks as if he has just hauled himself aboard, still having one foot in the water, maybe overloading the boat – or another mouth to feed.  A bit of artistic licence, presumably, bit of violence to sex things up; but similar things going on on the Ark too.  A young man, one of Noah’s sons, is about to hack at a man with an axe; the victim is being assisted onto the boat by another son, as the attack looms.  Elsewhere on the Ark, another son helps another survivor.  I don’t remember any survivors, other than Noah’s family – maybe they died, or were chucked back overboard.

Alphabetical Juxtapositions (see Blackpaint 190)

Again, from the Phaidon Art Book, Richard Hamilton and Hammershoi.  On the left page, Hamilton’s famous “Just What is it that Makes Today’s Homes so Different, so Appealing?”  Its yellows and reds, patterns and clutter of artefacts contrast beautifully with Hammershoi’s “Interior with Girl at Clavier” on the opposite page; cool, spare, still greys, whites and browns, echoing the black and white figure of the past in the wall photograph in Hamilton’s work.

Then there is the Hepworth and the Heron.  Barbara Hepworth’s polished form in guaraca wood, like a head with huge eyes, echoed in Heron’s coloured shapes in “Fourteen Discs”.  Not a surprise, I suppose, given their period and place; but I’d never noticed the similarity before.

Politics

Tried to keep politics out so as not to offend any readers, but I am unable not to comment on the insufferable little prick of a Lib Dem MP on TV last night, who kept referring to “Grown Up Politics”, as if anyone not backing the “coalition” (that is, Tory government) is being childish.  Come on, Martin Rowson – time to stop doing clever, dark, ambiguous cartoons of sinister fairgrounds; I want Lib Dem tongues up Tory arses.  Might as well be childish, if we’re not “grown up”.

Spider’s song, take 2

21.09.10

Blackpaint 190

September 9, 2010

Michelangelo’s Method

Should have checked out Wikipedia before I wrote yesterday’s blog; I was quite wrong, as usual.  He didn’t use cartoons and pricking – he did paint directly onto the wet plaster, with no previously prepared markers.  Sometimes he worked from a small drawing divided into a grid.  Incredible, isn’t it? 

Corneille

His obituary in the Guardian today.  When CoBrA exhibited in Amsterdam in 1948, there were fist fights at poetry readings during the exhibition.  That’s what art should provoke; punters should want to punch the artist for having the effrontery to show such offensive rubbish;  these days, the only reactions are from religious fanatics.. oh, and those who didn’t like the Myra Hindley hands portrait and those who thought photos of unclothed children encouraged paedophiles.. so, yes, people are still prepared  to be provoked – but by the content, rather than the style.

I would welcome a riot at my next private view; pity I can’t afford to pay people to be offended by my paintings.  I bet some artists have done that in the past…

Alphabetical Art Books

I love the way you sometimes get great juxtapositions in these books, purely by alphabetical arrangement.  I’m looking at the Phaidon Art Book now, and I have Leon Kossoff on one page with “Christchurch No.1”, and on the facing page, Peter Kroyer’s  “Summer Evening on the Southern Beach”.  The Kossoff, from 1991, is distorted, crudely painted in his usual dull and dirty palette – “a sort of churned-up, mud-like morass”.  It “deliberately avoids the picturesque”.  It positively seethes with movement.

The Kroyer, from nearly 100 years earlier, is a blue-grey beach stretching into a misty distance towards a headland, with two women in beautiful white dresses progressing slowly along the sea’s edge.  It exudes tranquility,  perhaps melancholy; it positively doesn’t seethe with movement.  What a fantastic contrast of scene, technique, purpose, mood, conception, just about everything – and that fortuitous 100 year gap.  Could make a good art history lesson…

A few pages earlier, Klimt’s “Kiss” faces off Kline and the Kline black square and bar echo the black rectangles in the cloak of Klimt’s man beautifully.  You could go on forever – Turner’s whirling sea “Snowstorm” against Twombly’s “Bolsena”, for example.  Maybe the editors pick the paintings to go with each other.  Anyway, trivial I know, but one can’t concentrate on important things ALL the time.

RIP Corneille – and Anton Geesink, the judo giant who was the first European to take a judo world championship title from the Japanese, in 1964.

Walcheren by Blackpaint