Posts Tagged ‘Tintoretto’

Blackpaint 307

November 21, 2011

Life Drawing

You see the same poses over and over in Old Masters; Titian, for example – saw that bald Joseph from “The Flight into Egypt” at the NG  in another Titian in Venice – at the Frari, a Virgin and Child with St.Peter.

Frari (Venice)

National Gallery

Well, OK, they’re facing different ways and St.Peter’s older…. nice pictures anyway.

Same thing with Tintorettos at the Brotherhood of San Rocce, which is stuffed with Tints; the figure from Milky Way crops up, another from that one of Perseus turning his attackers to stone – Reni, is it? – and Veronese-ish horse on the left of the massive Crucifixion.  Maybe they used the same models, who had their own stock of poses, like today.

This is just an excuse to flag up some life drawings, since I can’t make it to Leonardo this week and have nothing to say else to say.

OK, that’s enough for today; back to words and abstraction tomorrow.

Blackpaint

21.11.11

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Blackpaint 222

November 22, 2010

Miro at the Tate Modern

From reviews, Miro’s show at the Tate Modern, like Picasso at Liverpool recently, seems to be an attempt to portray Miro as a political artist.  This claim largely rests (it appears) on the poster he did for the Republican cause (see Blackpaint 26, Jan 2010) and on a surreal painting  “Still Life with Old Shoe”, in which he shows an enormous fork, about to plunge down into an apple – apparently a subliminal reference to the impending outbreak of the Spanish civil war, according to curator Matthew Gale.  Gale says this shows he is not just about “whimsy”.  He also made a work which was a response to the execution by garotte of an anarchist activist, Puig Antich – in 1974.  I remember that horrible event – the victim is strapped to a board and a metal noose tightened around his neck until the spinal cord is severed – you didn’t have to be an activist to be horrified – everybody was.

Any Miro exhibition is good news, but why bother to transform someone plainly more interested in the politics of the psyche – in his art, anyway – into a political painter?  Miro doesn’t need the justification.

The Last Supper

I’ve checked on Google, and although most Last Suppers take the da Vinci form ( table lengthwise across picture, Christ central, disciples seated behind table in a line) there are a number of exceptions.  Tintoretto’s table slants from lower left to upper right and includes a number of servants in the lower right area, Palma de Vecchio, Dieric Bouts and Simon Vouet all show disciples round the table.  In Bouts’ stunning, serene picture, Christ sits at the top of the table.  This arrangement is used in Russian icons, one of which, from 1497, shows a round table.

I was rather surprised to come across a version by Andy Warhol, based on the da Vinci.

Caspar David Friedrich

I’ve been told I’m too kind to painters and should be more critical, so I’ve cast round to find one I really don’t like, and I’ve come up with the above.  After all, he’s dead and I’m hiding behind anonymity, so I can say what I like.  I saw Andrew Graham – Dixon’s item on Friedrich on the Culture Show last week, which was clearly an advert for AGD’s forthcoming series on German art and it confirmed my aversion.  Country crucifixes in the snow,  misty mountains, purple –  orange – green skies, thrown – away crutches, heroic/romantic figures staring out over mist-filled chasms or oceans, deserted, ruined monasteries, graveyards….

Well, there are two I like; the wreckage on the ice floe, forced up into the Tatlin tower shape and the little man on the beach with the great, threatening wall of fog or cloud rolling towards him.  It makes me think of John Carpenter’s “The Fog” – are there undead pirates concealed in it?

Leonardo

I like the way he illustrated the predicted effects of his war chariot, in the drawing of it with the blades on the wheel hubs; he has drawn dismembered bodies scattered around.  Well, yes, I suppose it would have that effect, wouldn’t it?

Quiz

Who painted himself as “a Tyro”?

Blackpaint

22.09.10

Blackpaint 184

August 29, 2010

Robinson again

(See Blackpaint 177).  Visiting the National Gallery again on Saturday, we noticed that the Cailey Robinson exhibition went on round the corner of the room and consisted of several more paintings than the two I mentioned before.  This should have been obvious, since the poster showed a different painting, but I missed it.  These other paintings were enormous and consisted firstly of processions of attractive, innocent young maids in hospital/orphanage/school uniform, trooping around the castle-like interior of an institutional building, set off by interesting lighting effects; and secondly, of groups of wounded WWI soldiers in “convalescence” uniforms (light blue with red flashes)  with the odd kilted Scottish soldier and picturesque veteran in foreign(?) kit for effect.

Again, the thin black outline was present around the figures, making them static, and calling to mind illustrators of the period, and earlier.  I checked to see if there were any of the random red dots I’d noticed on the sheep (see Blackpaint 177), but could find none.  My partner suggested I should look at Seurat’s writing, since this sounded like one  of his techniques – but I can’t see how they could have operated; too few, too small, too dispersed and random.

Interesting to me to see how a painter so technically proficient – these paintings are really huge and beautifully controlled – could produce works so lifeless.

Fakes Exhibition

Dropped in on this again, and this time, I was impressed by the awfulness of the fake Botticelli;  the faces were  staggeringly bad and worth the trip alone, for the laugh.  I didn’t mention last time the Caspar David Friedrich painting, which isn’t a fake but a copy of the original by CDF himself, they think.  One of those beautifully  painted  snowbound scenes, lonely, fir trees, woods..  This time, I looked a little more closely and saw the wooden crucifixion seen in the central grove.  A country shrine, then, and in the snow – a pair of abandoned crutches!  Clearly, sometimes it’s better to view from a distance and overlook the detail..

Tintoretto

This is getting really bad, as I am about to abuse yet another great painter.  Still, he’s dead and this is an anonymous blog and gratuitous abuse is one of the pleasures.  Anyway, fantastic Tintoretto St. George and even more fantastic “Milky Way” upstairs – and next to it, a vast, rough, black, Spanish- looking painting of Christ  washing his disciples’ feet; it’s terrible, isn’t it?  Or am I missing something?  I can’t believe that the same artist could produce this monstrosity and the Milky Way.  it must have been his studio, not him.

Moroni

Then another example on the way out, but not so bad; the great portrait of the rosy-cheeked blond woman with her pink, anxious eyes and the fantastic pink satin dress  – next to the boring, bearded officer in black with the thin legs and knobbly knees.  I suppose the sitter (or stander in these cases) must make  a difference to the outcome, but hard for me to credit they are by the same artist.

Oil Painting

My own results are, by way of contrast, at least consistent.  Chopped-up ridges, slabs, scrapes and scores, they are getting thicker and busier all the time; more and more claustrophobic.  The trouble is, the oil is so seductive, you want to S-Q-U-E-E-Z-E it straight on and then slice into it and squirl it about – ended up with green paint gloves on last night.

Road to Mandalay 2

Blackpaint

29.08.10

Blackpaint 118

April 23, 2010

Jerusalem

Blackpaint celebrated St. George’s Day (and Shakespeare’s spurious birth and death day) early, by going to see the Jez Butterworth play at the Apollo Shaftesbury Avenue last night.  It was nearly as good as the reviews;  my only disappointment was that the language didn’t quite match the Shakespearean overtones.  Rooster Byron clearly invites some comparison with Falstaff, as an unofficial Master of Revels and a “misleader” of youth; I kept waiting for the “chimes at midnight” line, but it never came.

There were a couple of excellent monologues, put in the mouth of the confused professor; one was a long rhyme that sounded traditional, the other a short account of the St.George legend – again, I think  it was a quotation.

At the end of the play, Byron calls up a long line of English, Anglo-Saxon and other(? Yggdrasil?  isn’t that the Norse tree that joins earth to heaven?) folk heroes and mythic figures and I was reminded of the Donmar Theatre years ago, watching the end of Albert Mtwla’s “Woza Albert”, where  the heroes of the Liberation struggle are invoked one after another.

That was the second occasion that I was transported back in time;  the first was 10 or 15 minutes earlier, when Sandy Denny’s “Who knows where the time goes?” was used for a dance sequence.

It was December 1966 and I was in Charing Cross  Road, opposite St Martins -in- the-Field, by Trafalgar Square.  I was humping a big, brown leather briefcase  back to my firm’s West  End office.  Beatle hair over my ears and collar, suit and tie.  Suddenly, right in front of me, emerging from a taxi, carrying a guitar case and  wearing a black cape, Sandy Denny.  I’d seen her play and sing at the Nag’s Head in Winstanley Road, Battersea on the previous Sunday night and I like to think  she recognised me (it was a small, smoky upstairs room).  Anyway, I was smitten, although she was a couple of years older than me.

She saw me staring at her, paused and gave me a little quizzical smile; obviously at this point I  should have approached, told her I was a big fan, got an autograph – didn’t do  any of those; too shy- went red, turned away, walked on, kicked myself every night for a month…

Anyway, art.

Five great St. Georges; google them.

  • Tintoretto, National Gallery
  • Uccello, National gallery
  • Raphael, National gallery of Washington
  • Rubens, Prado
  • Odilon Redon – at least three versions, very strange.

My St.George (again)

Blackpaint

23.04.10

Blackpaint 76

February 24, 2010

Michelangelo’s Dream” at the Courtauld Gallery

I have to say that I was hoping to be able to find things to criticise in this exhibition.  The advice given by WordPress to bloggers is: be controversial!  What better opportunity could there be than to attack God – because Michelangelo is the Clapton of drawing.

Unfortunately, they are stunning – but I do have some minor cavils to air, so all is not lost.

The very first drawing is a preliminary sketch of  Phaeton’s fall from the heavenly chariot; it is brilliantly realised, and you would think could not be improved – until you see the next two versions.  The next, in black chalk, pulls the composition together into a triangular shape with Helion at the apex.  Phaeton’s upside-down, falling body echoing that of the falling horse on the right of the picture and heading towards the base, formed by the earth and Phaeton’s frantic sisters.

The third (or was it the second?) version is a vertical, funnel- shaped plummet  towards the earth, with the horses interlocked in an embrace.

Next is the Dream; a winged messenger swoops down to blow a horn in the face of a sleeping, muscular nude male, lounging on a box and leaning against a sort of globe.  in the box is a collection of theatrical masks and around the figure, lightly but perfectly drawn in the background, a set of writhing figures indulge in what appear to be sinful activities.  The drawing is in black chalk, and the shading is soft, no distinguishable lines (which is true of most of the drawings, except where a stylus has been used, and very light shading lines in these).  As Laura Cumming says, it has a cinematic feel, as if these background figures are appearing and disappearing on a screen.

To lower the general tone, the globe appears to be bisected to resemble the two halves of a bottom.

I think the next is Ganymede, being attacked in mid air from behind, by a giant eagle, the talons of which are gripping the boy’s legs; also in black chalk.

Next is Bacchanal, this time in red chalk; a group of chubby (but muscular) boys is carting a dead horse towards a pot.  A drunken man is sprawled on the right and an old female satyr is nursing a child (I think) on the left.

There now follows The Risen Christ, the usual Michelangelo muscular young man thrusting up towards heaven with a cape, or remnant of winding sheet round one shoulder – and perhaps it’s now pertinent to ask why they have such tiny genitals, like seed pearls.  Is it some sort of Renaissance unspoken convention?  Maybe they copied it from the Greeks and Romans.

A Resurrection now, in black chalk over red and stylus – shading lines, folllowed by-

Another Resurrection, this time a single figure of the risen Christ.  A static pose, even rather awkward; the body slightly lumpy – so not great, but still Michelangelo.

Now a figure of Lazarus, from 1516 (the main “Presentation Drawings” date from 1533) in red chalk; M. used the pose for Christ later.

I must have missed the Tityos, who has his liver eaten by eagles, like Prometheus; maybe I just don’t remember it.

There were some good copies by other artists, notably Tintoretto, on blue-green paper.

So – they are fantastic drawings, probably the best ever and all that, but a bit too refined and polished for my taste.  That probably has to do with the circumstances; the artist was seemingly smitten – in vain – with the young noble he drew them for, so they are sort of love tokens.

Not for me – I like a bit of crudeness, heavy shading, visible correction, sketchiness really (see example  below).  I remember an exhibition of Turner views of Venice; I thought the sketches were fantastic, the finished paintings a disappointment.

More on the Courtauld tomorrow.  By the way, I forgot to mention, in Blackpaint 64, the film about Michelangelo, “The Pride and the Passion”.

And here’s one of mine:

Blackpaint

Wednesday 24th Feb 2010