Posts Tagged ‘Toulouse Lautrec’

Blackpaint 589 – Pablo, Vanessa, JP and John

March 7, 2017

Picasso Musee, Barcelona

Mainly early paintings and drawings.  His dad was a drawing professor, apparently.  Early stuff amazing for a youngster; the head in the drawing below the only error I could see, apart from dodgy legs on a bearded man on the end wall.  Several drawings very like Toulouse Lautrec.

 

picasso-life

Academic Study, done when he was around 14 – gratifying to see a slight error in positioning of the head….

1901 was a decisive year; three memorable pictures – the “Margot” below, the red dwarf girl and the still life (also below).

 

picasso-still-life

Still Life – like a Cezanne, but with each article “floating” separately on the table top.

 

picasso-woman

Portrait (Margot) – there’s that characteristic positioning of the head to one side.

Another favourite – Portrait of Madame Canals (1904)

Then, 1917, and lots of black cubist playing card pictures,; a gored horse, bowels falling out – “Guernica” of course, but bony quality, forerunner of the skulls and those bone people on the beach.

Then, 1931; the Marie-Berthe portrait, in which her nose comes direct from the forehead, like a stuck-on gourd.

A roomful of versions and sketches of “Las Meninas”, a roomful of “Columbines”, doves in a window overlooking a bay.  The doves are just circles with smaller circles and dashes at one end, for the head and beak.

Vanessa Bell, Dulwich Picture Gallery

Some really impressive paintings in this exhibition, showing her every bit as strong as Duncan Grant.  There is a group of portraits in the first or second room, including the Iris Tree and self portrait below, that I thought was particularly brilliant.  But the still lifes, landscapes and abstracts are also great.  Highly recommended.

 

Iris Tree, 1915

 

Still Life on Corner of Mantelpiece, 1914

 

Oranges and Lemons, 1914

 

Self Portrait, 1915

The Ginger Man, JP Donleavy

Got a second hand copy of this, which I read about fifty years ago when it was really popular.  Donleavy is also the author of A Fairy Tale of New York, the title of which the Pogues borrowed for their single with Kirsty McColl.   It was a book about drunken, ne’er- do-well Irish American students, carousing in Dublin.  If you read it, you will remember the toilet bowl emptying through the floor/ceiling when the chain is pulled and the drunken parade through Dublin in the kangaroo suit.  Stylistically, it’s an attempt at something like Bloom’s sections in Ulysses, stream of consciousness, verbless phrases, even the vocab and settings (Laestrigonians, Gerty MacDowell etc.).

What came as a very nasty surprise was this, on page 29; the “hero” is rowing with his wife, who has just slapped his face:  “Sebastian up off the table.  He drove his fist into Marion’s face.  She fell backward against the cupboard.  Dishes crashing to the floor…..Took the child’s pillow from under its head and pressed it hard on the screaming mouth.”  His wife manages to save the child and Sebastian hits the streets to drink away his worries.  Next time his wife appears in the novel, she succumbs very willingly to his sexual prowess; the punch and the attempted murder are forgotten – but she is still angry about his language, laziness et al.

The point of this is that neither I nor my partner remembered the violence; we both thought of it as one of those cult books and films  about anarchistic, comical drunks and druggies you read when you are a young rebel;  Sort of a post- WW2 “Withnail and I”.  I checked the net – no mention of the violence, but I did discover it had been selected as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century by the Modern Library.  Reviewers, such as Jay McInerney, refer to Dangerfield’s rogue-ish charm.

Lone Star (1996)/Matewan (1987), John Sayles

Saw Lone Star on TV a few days ago; the presence of Kris Kristofferson and Matthew McConaughey AND Chris Cooper in the same film should be enough to guarantee it – and yes, it’s got racial tension,  violence, some tame sex, a mystery body, murders and McConaughey doing that cold, flat stare from behind a revolver.  But somehow, it’s irritating, to me at least.  It checks too many boxes in terms of the competing interests and “issues” of the various groups, whites, Latinos, blacks, Native Americans.  And the nice people win in the end.  Matewan, set amongst West virginia coal miners and also starring Cooper, has a cathartic shoot-out (necessary in this sort of film) and the good people win here too – but only temporarily;  The old evil capitalism re-asserts itself at the end.  More violent, more pessimistic, more better.

I find myself wondering how “Deadwood” would have turned out with Sayles as director…

 

Little Lake Shore

Blackpaint

7/3/17

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Blackpaint 582 – Muddy Clothes, Bloody Sex, Endless Poetry

January 14, 2017

Tate Britain – Paolozzi

Early films by Paolozzi showing; influence of Picabia, Ernst, Metropolis immediately evident – as is Paolozzi’s apparent influence on Monty Python.  An intriguing soundtrack by the serialist composer Elisabeth Lutyens – must find out more about her.

paolozzi

Design Museum

It’s now in the former Commonwealth Institute building, up at Holland Park (High Street Kensington tube).  There’s a permanent exhibition (free) and two for which you have to pay – a Design Prize exhibition and one called, for reasons which I didn’t ascertain, “Love and Fear”.

Prize competition – jewellery from air pollution, Scandi I think; Nunhead London, a Green building community centre, opposite and responding to (architecturally) a pub; bike helmet lights… and a lot of other stuff.

“Love and Fear” – Gers (traditional Mongolian dwellings, I’d thought were called  yurts) made out of thick carpet-like material; apparently the Mongolians, because of their nomadic history and life style have little sense of community.  Chinese dresses and cloaks, mud-coloured, presented on a bed of…mud; a whale/dolphin saver project; an inquisitive electronic crane thing that inspects you with it’s robot eye but soon loses interest.

Permanent exhibition – no chronology in display, irritating for some of us who are used to absorbing things in date order – or indeed, any order – display wall (below) reminded me of the Millenium Dome exhibition in which random objects were spattered randomly over a similar wall.  Mops, skateboard (I think), Tube symbol, bicycle…

design-1

 

design-2

The old Bush TV – yes, we had one – and the white 60s one (Courreges, the Avengers maybe), Sony Walkman, etc.

(Below) Cardigan made from human hair, part of a school project.  All clothes on display looked to be made from old oven gloves, teflon or metal; dark, harsh, Japanese-y in style, gender-less..

design-3

There was a hospital-like smell in the building; an amalgam of disinfectant, medicine and cooking; the signage was bad – had to ask the way to the toilets, and as often, difficult to find the captions to some exhibits.  In the bookshop area, interesting books were displayed high and out of reach.  Piled on the lower shelves beneath, but still sealed in plastic, so unbrowseable.  All attendants wore immaculate black aprons for some reason.  Why are design museums always so badly designed?

The building, on the other hand, is great; huge, ship-like curved ceilings, built around 68, I think, by Pawson.

Endless Poetry (Jodorowsky, 2016, ICA)

It starts where “Dance of Reality” finishes; same actors, plus Jod’s older son.  Mother still singing her lines, Father still a screwed-up bully (kicking his “thieving” customers repeatedly as they lie cowering on the floor); still the masks, cardboard trains and store fronts, dwarves, skeleton suits, red devils.   Plenty to shock the shockable; hanging suicide, rampant penises, graphic sex with a menstruating woman (who has dwarfism) – but all somehow OK because of the relentless – well, optimism.  Jod’s younger self actually says “Life is beautiful!” at one point – so laugh and smile through the pain, bereavement, torture, disappointment; there’s nothing else you can do.  So what, if it all burns down, you can’t take it with you…  It’s Fellini, of course, but rather explicit; the message, that is.

I think I can take maybe one more episode of this, without it becoming slightly winsome.

Jodorowsky’s Magic Real-ish autobiography (sort of),  “Where the Bird Sings Best”, is out in Restless Books; the similarity to Maya Angelou suggested by the title is misleading.

Maggi Hambling, Touch (British Museum print room)

I wasn’t keen on Hambling’s drawings before – I thought they made her subjects look thorny and scabby.  There are two superb life sketches in this show, however, and three small figure studies on a matt black background that are just as good.  See also her portrait of the dying Cedric Morris.  John Berger and Stephen Fry are instantly recognisable from across the room.

From Clouet to Courbet (also BM print room)

Clouet like Holbein, but without that spark of life that makes Holbein unique.  Two lovely Ingres,  a great Gericault, and these two:

biard

Attributed to Biard.  Touch of Spike Milligan out of Kirk Douglas?

 

toulouse-lautrec

Lautrec, of course.

 

little-sea-jetty

Little Sea Quay

 

little-ice-fall

Little Ice Fall

Blackpaint

14.1.16

Blackpaint 532 – Brussels, Tolstoy, Magritte and those balls – what are they? – they’re Bells!

February 14, 2016

Musee Des Beaux Arts, Brussels

icarus

It’s not actually called this any more, though the Brueghel painting of Icarus plummeting into the ocean that inspired the famous Auden poem is still there; it’s divided into three, or actually four bits (the modern one is closed at the moment), all in the one huge building: the Magritte museum, the “fin-de-siecle” museum and the mighty “museum of Ancient Art” are the sections open at the moment.  The building is at the top of the “Mountain of Art”; big, freezing, windswept square, lines of pollarded trees, watch for the mouse running under the waste basket, turn right after the massive library.

the-fair-captive

The Fair Captive

Magritte first; lots of cloudy skies in window frames, mirrors and easels; skin changing into wood grain or bricks; doves made of leaves; owls in threatening groups; bowler-hatted men (of course) – and those curious metallic balls with the horizontal slots in them, that also feature, I think, in some Max Ernst paintings.  What are they, I wonder.  Looked it up – they’re bells, like you hang round horses’ necks, apparently.

magritte balls

So far, so usual Magritte, but I was interested to see some of his colourful early poster work – I had’t known he was an ad man, but it makes perfect sense; the “surrealism” is often a neat little transposition, tidily illustrated (it’s night in the urban street, dark, street lights on outside the little villas – but it’s broad daylight in the sky above the tall trees) and often he uses the same image several times, slightly adapted, with a different “surreal” name.

villa magritte

There is a startling and inexplicable style change in the 40s(?); the usual neat precision gives way to rough-drawn, pink/brown/yellow pastel colours for a few pictures.  I checked, they were still oil on canvas; but then back to the familiar style again.

the-explanation magritte

The Explanation

Fin – de – Siecle

Some terrific stuff in here: Vogel,  the awful weather painter; that is, the weather’s awful, not the paintings.  It’s always raining, snowing or maybe just grey and drizzly in his town and village streets; Van Rysselbergh,  nothing special, landscapes in lines and stipples – but what a name!  Ranks with Van Dongen and Vantongerloo in my book (yes, there is one Van Gogh, portrait of a young man); Rops and Spillaert, both with loads of paintings, as if the museum director had said “OK, get cracking, we’ll take the lot.” And Finch again!  (see Blackpaint on Helsinki, August 2015).

Some little Kollwitz etchings. reminiscent of Goya penitents, that great Bonnard of his wife stretching, standing naked against the window in the bathroom – where else? – some good Toulouse Lautrec drawings, three Gauguins (two great, one awful) – but the real surprise was Ensor.

Ensor Chinese%20Porcelain%20with%20Fans,%201880

Chinese Porcelain

There were a couple of the cartoon-y clown/mask ones, the sinister ones he’s famous for,  but several good, chunky, almost social -realist pictures and a lovely still life with a central blob of red, a dish I think.  And “The Skate” (below):

Ensor_TheSkate

Ensor boy with lamp

The Lamplighter, Ensor

The last museum, “Ancient Art”, was so rich and enormous that I’m leaving it until the next blog.

On Thursday, we walked beyond the “Mountain of Art” and a huge, depressing palace on our right, towards Jubelpark and Musees Royeaux d’art et d’histoire …..  We trudged along a grey, freezing avenue of empty office blocks and building sites, as traffic tore past, terrifyingly close to very narrow pavements.  A great, glass EU building on the right reared above us and we didn’t notice it, so intent were we on keeping to the kerb.  It was easy to imagine it empty and to let, like all the others…..

The park was pure Magritte, though; neat, tidy, squared off, depressing; someone walking a little dog (loads of dogshit around – Magritte never put that in a picture, I think).  But there were busts of people, sculpted with their bodies apparently enclosed in boxes – and their bare feet poking out at the bottom.

If you eat in the museum restaurant, don’t have the “Americain” – it’s a hefty, cake – sized lump of raw hamburger meat, served with capers, salad and chips; delicious!

Kreuzer Sonata, Tolstoy

Inspired by the TV War and Peace, I’m reading this novella, which I thought I might finish on Eurostar; no such luck.  The views expressed – not sure how far they are Tolstoy’s own; probably all – make Zvyagintsev’s taciturn male bullies look like Hackney hipsters by comparison.

latest wip

The Siege of Brussels (Work in progress)

Blackpaint

14.02.16

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 429 – Four Cities; Paris, Rio, Hiroshima, Nagasaki

January 11, 2014

Toulouse- Lautrec

I have acquired Patrick O’Connor’s “Toulouse-Lautrec – The Nightlife of Paris” (Phaidon Books) which confirms me in my opinion that TL was every bit as good as Degas; a few pictures below to back that up:

Lautrec - the englishman

The Englishman at the Moulin Rouge

lautrec5

Caudieux

rue des moulins

Rue des Moulins

I think the only real difference is the element of caricature in TL’s work, absent from Degas; maybe also the penchant for swirling, vibrant backgrounds as above, more reminiscent of Van Gogh than Degas.

Vitamin D2

Another Phaidon book, this one the latest in their Vitamin series of drawings.   My favourites:

Moshekwa Langa

moshekwa langa

A Turn in the South

and J Valentine Parker

J Parker Valentine

Untitled 2012

Langa’s highly colourful, Parker’s in that lovely, scrapey, rough, Diebenkorn-ish charcoal.  Nothing new, I know, but great.

Flying down to Rio

Fred and Ginger’s first film together, hard to get hold of as a DVD; my copy is Spanish and I have to watch it in English with Spanish subtitles.  The usual ridiculous plot, not enough dancing from F and G – but it’s worth getting hold of for the fantastic aerial sequence at the end.  Dozens of beautiful girls dancing, posing, stripping off (only to the swimsuits; this was 1933), on the wings of planes – to an orchestra conducted by Fred, playing in a hotel courtyard thousands of feet below.  I can’t watch any Fred and Ginger film without finding a foolish smile on my face at the end.

Command and Control, Eric Schlosser

Another Christmas present, this one containing some staggering facts.  here’s a sample:

The Little Boy atom bomb – the Hiroshima one – had a firing mechanism that included bags of gunpowder;

Nagasaki was an alternative target for the Fat Boy bomb – the first target was Kokura, but it was too cloudy to attack (only visual contact was good enough for the command structure) and the bomber went instead for Nagasaki, almost out of fuel;

No blueprints were kept for the Hiroshima bomb, so when the US government wanted to manufacture more, they had to reassemble the team and start more or less from scratch;

Most startling of all, Schlosser says that Bertrand Russell favoured a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the USSR in the time before Russia acquired its own bomb.  I’m only a hundred-odd pages in, so no doubt there will be more “would you believe it?” stuff.

New Colours

New paints for Christmas, as requested, some decent earth colours; when I use them, however, I tend to bottle out and revert to whites and greys and paint the same pictures over and over again.  Got to make that break…

??????????

Work in Progress

Blackpaint

10.01.14

Blackpaint 221

November 19, 2010

The Nabis

It means prophets in Hebrew.  This group was made up of Bonnard, Serusier, Maurice Denis, Vuillard, Ranson and others.  Why I mention it is the amazing story of “The Talisman”; this was a panel painted in 1888 by Serusier, under the guidance and instruction of Gauguin, who they regarded as their master.  Serusier brought back the painting, entitled “The Bois d’Amour a Pont – Aven”,   like Moses with the tablets of stone, and it was treated as their guiding star by the rest of the group.  It is a highly stylised landscape, with a large yellow colour field, an orange-red bridge leading to a blue house with bright blue river and patches in background; very flat surface.  The flatness of the picture plane was of the essence, as was the intensity of the colours. 

I love these obsessive little movements with their fixed ideas and absolute rules (see stuff on Mondrian and van Doesburg in Blackpaint 60 and 61, February 2010). 

Also of interest about Bonnard is that he won a poster competition for France – Champagne and his poster apparently influenced Toulouse Lautrec; TL subsequently painted habitually in this style, whereas Bonnard abandoned it immediately.  The Bonnard poster is really like a Lautrec – you would assume it was one, if you were not told otherwise.

Before leaving Bonnard (for today – he’s too interesting to neglect for long), I must mention “White Interior”; there’s a table corner in it, which he maybe positioned wrongly, or maybe just wished to show with different articles on it, so he painted it again, further to the right – and left the first one in.  Looks OK; why change it?

Leonardo

I’ve been looking at his wonderful portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, the one of the demure young girl with the ermine.  In Leonardo’s day, the ermine was a symbol of purity because of its fastidious ways;  apparently, it didn’t like getting its fur dirty.

How times have changed; an ermine is a stoat, which is a close relative of the weasel.  What would we now make of a portrait of a young woman fondling an alert and rather predatory looking weasel?  Not purity, I would think, even if the fur was white.

Quiz for today

Raphael also painted a lady holding an animal symbolising virtue, though this one was mythical; what was it?

Angel of Mons by Blackpaint

19.11.10