Posts Tagged ‘Truffaut’

Blackpaint 672 – Bomberg, Deneuve and Angels’ Wings

May 28, 2020

Bomberg

Continuing from last blog on Roy Oxlade and Bomberg, I’ve now finished the Oxlade book “Art and Instinct” and I’m somewhat wiser, but by no means completely clear on Bomberg’s main message – or the “Approach”, as he called it (Bomberg tended to capitalise throughout his writings, most of which, in the Oxlade book at least, were unpublished notes).  Two things are clear – he was regarded as a guru by his students, who tended to make works which obviously reveal his influence (see Creffield and Dorothy Mead, for example) and he had an overwhelming sense of mission, to deliver art, and art teaching,  from the “errors” propounded by William Coldstream and others.  Coldstream was  imposing the LTS (learn to see) system on students, which was based on “accurate” observation, measurement, the rules of perspective and proportion developed during the Renaissance.  This precluded a freshness of approach, strapped students into a visual and practical straitjacket and prevented them from finding “the Spirit in the Mass”, to use Bomberg’s phrase.

What was, or is, the “Spirit in the Mass”?  Not sure.  There’s some religious or at least metaphysical stuff in there, obviously – but is it any more than “forget the rules, respond to the subject as you see fit, try to find the essentials, whatever they are, of the object which you are drawing or painting”?  I was surprised, when I looked into Bomberg’s work, to find how poerful and varied it is.  Some examples below.  I’ve left out the early, semi-abstract ones, “Mud Bath” and “Jiu Jutsu” as I’ve discussed them elsewhere.  Also I left out the Palestine paintings – “accurate”, but flat and boring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a few; I love the way he paints women and I was surprised at the erotic charge in some of the pictures.  And that mountainscape.  Check him out – there’s a great sequence on YouTube.

Coronavirus Updates

We in the UK have, for the last six or seven weeks, had the benefit if a daily update on the progress of the pandemic here, delivered mostly by the government minister of the day, flanked, at a proper distance, by a scientist or two.  Certain idiosyncracies of vocabulary and phraseology have developed over that time, repetitions that maybe have already been noted in the press – I wouldn’t know as I stopped buying papers weeks ago – they can carry the virus.

Of the politicians on offer, my favourite is Dominic Raab, because he resembles  Simon Cadell, who played Mr. Geoffrey in “Hi De Hi”.  Anyway – “Incredible”; everyone is working incredibly hard under incredibly difficult circs, doing an incredible job.  Related to this is ” the clock“, which again, everyone is working round“Granular”; I think Jonathan Van Tam, the scientist, introduced this one.  It’s to do with looking really closely at evidence, getting right down to the real nitty gritty to quote the old song – and coming up with a really close analysis – not smooth, but – well – grainy.

And phrases; the way they evaluate the questions put to them, especially those from the public; “I think that’s an incredibly good question” – Matt Hancock is the master of this – “I really do think that’s a really great question” –  then they proceed to avoid answering it, usually by “paying tribute” to “the incredible work” being done by health care workers, researchers, or whoever it might be.  This sounds snotty – I don’t mean it to be; I’ve less time for the arrogant journalists who think they are the real government.

 

Truffaut’s Films

The Last Metro, Deneuve and Depardieu both on fabulous form in Truffaut’s WW11 piece, about an actor/manager (Deneuve) trying to keep a theatre going in occupied Paris, while her Jewish playwright husband hides in the cellar from the Nazis.

 

The next best in the box set; Fanny Ardant this time, with Depardieu; she moves in next door, not knowing that D, her former lover,  lives there.  Smouldering, as Barry Norman probably said.

Angels’ Wings

Jan van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece (detail)

This picture appeared in the RA magazine, and my partner was intrigued by the wings.  They look as if they’re cut from a melon, she said – green on the outside and sort of fleshy glistening inside,  I looked at some other examples to see – as far as I can make out, they are a one=off.

 

Ghirlandaio, Coronation of the Virgin (detail)

Nice splash of red, yellow and blue here…

 

Fra Angelico, The Last Judgement (detail)

Beautifully marked – but no recognisable pattern..

 

 

Fra Angelico, The Annunciation (detail)

Butterfly wings, definitely.

 

Dieric Bouts, the Road to Paradise (detail)

Lovely blue ones – and presumably, holes cut into the robes.  Must be difficult to get on.

Raphael, The Archangel Michael (detail)

Hint of snakeskin here – look at that fore-edge.

 

To finish, a revamped painting of mine, which I noticed “after the fact” sort of bore a resemblance to the theme – but not to the quality, of course…

Angel Wings (formerly Lost in the Woods)

Blackpaint

29.5.20

Blackpaint 652 – Maurer, Takis, Scherjfbeck, Truffaut and co.

August 28, 2019

Dora Maurer, Tate Modern 

Hungarian artist, specialising in geometric, sometimes highly colourful designs, layering, lattices, lots of theory in the wall notes (that I didn’t read, having learnt that I forget it all pretty quick).  Have a look at the examples below:

 

These look great through the arch as you come in to the gallery – early Albert Irvin with straighter lines?

 

Touch of Hoyland in the colours here…

 

Can’t think of any comparisons, which although not compulsory, makes me faintly uneasy; like it though.

 

Takis, Tate Modern 

Greek artist, but based in London and Paris, real name Panayiotis Vassilakis, heyday in the 60s, died just a couple of weeks ago.  Leaflet describes him as a “sculptor of magnetism, light and sound”.  Exhibition kicks off with the figurines below, which are appealing and a little Giacometti -like here and there, but soon the machines clock in.  Most of them were not working when we went, but an attendant did set one going (a pendulum pointer which strikes at the centre of a resonating metal shield); don’t know if it was for our benefit or if he does it regularly – like the man who fired the Anish Kapoor wax cannon in Guggenheim Bilbao a few years back.

 

 

The contraption on the left looks like a miniature electric chair, I thought,,,

 

Lots of quite beautiful suspended metal spheres, often turning on pendulums due to magnetic forces; also machines that pluck at metal metal cords or strips to produce, unsurprisingly, metallic “music”.

 

Visual hints of Calder at times, and also of Jean Tinguely, although these devices lack the anarchic, self – destructive tendencies of some of Tinguely’s machines.  A bit lightweight, maybe, in terms of emotional freight and social relevance – which can only be good, can’t it?

 

Helene Scherjfbeck again – RA 

I did this Finnish artist in my last blog, as readers will remember, but I’ve been again since and feel that I may have failed to do the exhibition justice last time – so here are some more pictures.  These, with the exception of the first one below, are highly graphic in a sort of magazine style, and I think they are pretty good and worth a close look.

 

I love this portrait – she looks like a Russian intellectual to me, writing a leaflet for a Narodnik party, People’s Will maybe, before going off to blow up the Czar.

 

So by way of contrast, there’s her, about to attend a society wedding, maybe-

 

..or her (no ready-made scenarios spring to mind – but I like the straight forehead-nose profile)…

 

Or her – the young Mrs. Thatcher, perhaps.  Love the shadow on the neck and face.

 

Modernists and Mavericks, Martin Gayford

My favourite art book since the brilliant Walter Hopps interviews a couple of years ago.  It’s based on London painters, notably Bacon, Freud, Hockney, Auerbach, Gillian Ayres, Bridget Riley, etc,  There is absolutely no jargon (except that invented by some of the artists themselves), the doctrinal disputes are covered lucidly, it’s a compulsive read.  You will know most of the stories if you are interested in these artists, but you may not know the connections between them.  It contains some revelations for me, chiefly the almost Stalinist attitudes of one Robin Darwin, the principal of the Royal College of Art in the 60s, who seems at one point to be drawing up lists of students to expel.  Why was Frank Bowling expelled for marrying Paddy Kitchen, a college officer?

On Bowling, it explains the contents of his big picture “Mirror” as a sort of compendium of styles extant at the time; I’m off to the Tate to check it out now – well, tomorrow maybe.  I was interested to read of Bowling’s conversation with Bacon about flat plane and perspective that Bowling thinks may have led to Bacon “blanking” him subsequently.  It’s good on Gillian Ayres too.  One mystifying omission – Albert Irvin.  No mention of him – maybe he’s too abstract for Gayford?  No, can’t be – what about Riley and Ayres?

Truffaut, Antoine Doinel films

Just watched the whole set, from 400 Blows to Love on the Run.  Truffaut’s alter ego gradually loses his charm as the series progresses, but this is not true of the captivating women with whom he becomes, or fails to become involved, marries, leaves; Claude Jade, Delphine Seyrig, Marie France Pisier, Dorothee. “Mademoiselle” Hiroku.  In Love on the Run, there are flashbacks to the 400 Blows, which remind you of the remarkable magnetism of Jean-Pierre Leaud as a young boy.  Brilliant set of films.

Couple of mine to finish:

Father Time

Blue Cyclone

Blackpaint

28.08.19

 

 

 

Blackpaint 619 – Milne, Picasso and Truffaut

May 14, 2018

A long gap since I posted last, due to events as Harold MacMillan put it.  More regular from now on, I hope.

Dulwich Picture Gallery – David Milne

Another Canadian artist at Dulwich.  I’m afraid this exhibition finished last week, but I thought it was worth mentioning.  Milne used a limited palette of four or five colours in most of his paintings, but the effectiveness is not diminished, as you can see.  For my money, the best ones were those where figures are set within the surroundings in such a way as they sink into them.  Look closely at the painting below; it’s a seated woman reading, with a cat on her lap.

Picasso 1932 – Tate Modern

I’ve been twice so far.  It’s staggering, if only for the volume and range of work completed in the year.  If you look at the dates of the works, it appears that he was completing a painting or sculpture a day – this is because he dated the work on the day he decide it was finished.  Sometimes, he probably took a few days to finish!

As far as the pictures go, it’s clear that he was generally uninterested in surface or texture; he gets the image down on canvas and moves on to the realisation of his next idea.  There will be a series of variations on a theme (for example The Rescue, in the final room, in which we see several images of a woman saved from drowning).  Most of the images are stunning; in a few, you feel that he is pushing it – perhaps even taking the piss (can’t think of a more delicate way of phrasing it).

Strangely for a big prestige exhibition like this. you can take photos freely – I’ve got more than I can be bothered to post in this blog, so I’ll put a few more up next time.

 

 

Unusually, a bit of texture in this one, around the face…

 

Taking the piss here just a little?

 

I know this picture well, but unbelievably, hadn’t noticed the resemblance to an octopus.  The exhibition helpfully has a film of the – cephalopod, is it? – next to the painting, so you can hardly miss it.

 

Now, a series of tiny octopuses apparently contained in tins, like sardines.

More on Picasso next blog, which will be soon.

Francois Truffaut (DVDs, boxed set of eight)

I’d always thought of Truffaut as a little bit – soft really; bit slushy.  I think it is the hangover of “quirkiness” from the unwatchable “Jules et Jim”, Jeanne Moreau in a “quirky” cap set at a jaunty angle, dressed as a man (she’s got a pencilled-in moustache  for some reason, I think), running across a bridge, pursued adoringly by the two men in her life.  It’s in the box, but I can’t bring myself to watch it.

The other films. however, were a really pleasant surprise, particularly the three mentioned below.  In “Anne and Muriel”, the triangle is reversed; two sisters to one man – but not at the same time.  Or even within the same time frame.

Anne and Muriel

The Last Metro (1980)

Again, two men, one woman – eventually.  And yes, within the same time frame.  Stars the ice queen Catherine Deneuve, displaying emotion with the merest movement of an eyebrow, the pursing of the lips..

The Woman Next Door

Depardieu again, this time with Fanny Ardant.  The best film in the set, I think, as well as the darkest (even though The Last Metro is set in WW2 occupied France).

 

Crouching Pink

Blackpaint 

14.5.18

 

 

Blackpaint 584 – Uluru, Falling Space and Ken’s Ceramic Lava

January 29, 2017

little-sea-and-fire

One of mine to kick off –

Little Fire and Sea

Blackpaint

 

Now on to proper artists:

Michael Andrews, Gagosian, W1

A great exhibition of paintings by this lesser-known artist (lesser-known, that is, than his contemporaries such as Bacon, Freud and Auerbach; obviously, all my British readers will know him – you do, don’t you, both of you?).  It covers his whole career, starting with a couple of those eerie group paintings, people lying about singly and in couples, in a garden, staring out at you, some of them, as at a camera, or mingling in a club (the Colony Room, Bacon seated back to viewer, Freud staring out).  Then the balloon pictures, and an arresting picture of a plane about to hit us, above the lights of a city – bit like an Italian Futurist.  Then to Australia and the pink, rounded stone hills of the outback.  Then deerstalking in the Scottish hills.  Portraits in between.

andrews-1

Laughter, Uluru (Ayers Rock) The Cathedral I, 1985

Strangely like a Bacon, the mouth I suppose.

andrews2

The Thames at Low Tide, 1993-4

His last painting, I think.  Strange angles..

andrews3

School I, 1977

I love that black to dark blue water.

 

andrews4

Swimming Pool with Two Girls, 1982

From a photo, surely.

A lot to see; sixty-one pictures in all.  It’s on until March 25th.

Marcus Harvey, Vigo Gallery, W1.

This is the artist who caused the big stir back in 1995 at the Sensations exhibition,  with his portrait of Myra Hindley done in children’s handprints.  Nothing like that in this collection, but some interesting pieces, like below:

harvey1

Maggie, 2011 – surely not Mrs. Thatcher?

harvey2

The English Cemetery, 2016 – like Kiefer doing Isle of the Dead, floating in a Richter sea…

 

Richard Wilson, Annely Juda, W1

This is staggering; can’t work out how he did it.  He’s taken whole sections of space within the gallery itself (a stairway, curtains, wall), sculpted the space in wood. and then dropped them – gently – into position as below.  The drawing shows the section he has constructed.  Sorry about my mania for comparisons, but the effect is Louise Nevelson, positioned by Phyllida Barlow.

wilson3

 

wilson2

 

 

Ken Price, Hauser and Wirth, W1

Ken Price, Bay Area sculptor (see him in “The Cool School” film about the Ferus Gallery, Walter Hoppe and Irving Blum and their artists, fantastic film);  yes, there are his big breast shaped ceramics, nipples pointing to the roof.  Unbelievably, this whole collection of outlandish pieces are ceramic; several look like molten lava, others like huge gemstones, and there are a pair of high gloss pots, as if to show he can do conventional brilliantly too.

Next door, there is another galleryful of his drawings in colourful inks.  Those ones of the naked women are a little Aubrey Beardsley, a little R. Crumb…

price1

 

price2

 

400 Blows, Truffaut, 1959

400-blows

I’ve been meaning to buy this DVD for ages.  A school rebel film, developing into a reform school film. it’s the forerunner of several British films.  I reckon Ken Loach saw the games master leading the boys through town at the trot – Brian Glover, those shorts,  in the football match in “Kes”.  I reckon “Scum” too – and “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner” at the end.  When the boy pockets the cash he steals from home, he swings his shoulders just like Jean Gabin.

Another one of mine to end with:

time-and-place-no-8

Time and Place No 8

Blackpaint

29/1/17