Posts Tagged ‘Turner Prize’

Blackpaint 471 – Grayson, Grace, Nazis and the Queen

December 1, 2014

Fitzwilliam Permanent Collection

This Cambridge museum is staggeringly ornate inside; the entrance hall is like some gilded cathedral.  Quite a lot of rather mediocre pictures by some great painters, like the Quai d’Orsay – some so-so Titians, an unremarkable Veronese, two really shit Matisses, a bad Degas.  I’m not complaining; it’s interesting to see that the masters can be mediocre too.  And there ARE some beautiful pictures – a great Vuillard interior, a fabulous black paint sketch by Degas, Dutch, French and Spanish still lifes on black ground – butterflies, rotting fruit and lizards (what do they signify?) among the flowers.

Several lovely Camden Town paintings, Harold Gilman, Sickert and Ethel Sands, whose work looked just like the great Gilman to me.

National Portrait Gallery – Grayson Perry

Pottery and tapestry that goes with Perry’s recent TV prog, in which he interviewed a diverse selection of people living in Britain today and produced portraits of them.  There is a big tapestry in which he lists various aspects of the British self-image;  the Modern Family (two men and a child); the Ashford Hijab (below); the Alzheimer’s sufferer and his amazing wife; the Children of God family, and several others.  My favourites are the three love goddesses, that remind me of the Willendorf Venus – but bigger, of course –  and the Cuman figures from the Ukraine that are in Berlin (see next week’s blog).

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The Ashford Hijab

I took the opportunity to go round the collection and discovered a few great pictures with which I was unfamiliar:

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WG Grace by Archibald Wortley

Straight off the cigarette card, I think – I love the loose way he’s done the shirt and arms (see Rivers below);

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Thomas Hardy, by William Strang

Small, fantastic, Holbein-ish, except for the downward gaze; love the green on red background.

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David Sylvester by Larry Rivers

Written about this picture before.  The looseness of the background is now a common style; I’m thinking of that portrait of the officer in his dress uniform after a party, at the BP Prize a couple of years ago.  Also, I like the way he has pink soup cascading over his neck and shoulder.

Lore (2012) 

Made in German by Cate Shortland, an Australian, I found this film to be a refreshing take on the Nazi regime – it shows a couple of formidable and chilling old Nazi diehard women, one Lore’s “Omi” (grandmother), the other a peasant woman, lamenting the dead Fuhrer and how the German people had let him down.  Necessary corrective to the attractive face of Nazism presented by Alexandra Maria Lara, who plays Traudl Junge in “Downfall”.

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Remember Me

Three- part ghost story on BBC1, starring Michael Palin; that beach scene in the opening credits, where the tall, black-shrouded figure appears, is surely inspired by Jonathan Miller’s B&W adaptation of MR James’ “Whistle and I’ll Come to You Lad” – a masterpiece, featuring another Michael -Hordern – and which, for me, ranks with “The Ring” for creepiness, despite its age.

First Love, Last Rites

Still on that theme of finding comparisons, I’ve just finished Ian McEwan’s early short stories (see last blog) and the book that came to my mind was “Tomato Cain” by Nigel Kneale, author of the Quatermass books.  Kneale’s stories lack the explicit sex, of course – it was the 50s – but I thought McEwan’s “Butterflies” in particular was very like Kneale.

Turner Prize

It should have been Tris Vonner -Marshall or James Richards (see Blackpaint a few blogs ago).

 Berlin

Just back from four days of museums and galleries, for which see next blog, but I have to mention Nefertiti in the Neues Museum; all on her own in a darkened chamber, her face is somehow completely modern – I thought maybe behind a desk at an airport.  the beauty  is in the consummate skill of the modelling, the long neck, smooth skin – like a Holbein portrait (see below) it’s more than just brilliant, in that it goes beyond style.

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nefertiti

And Holbein…

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The Merchant George Gisze, Holbein

Different clothes, but I’m sure I saw this bloke on the UBahn on Friday… And to follow Holbein, here’s my latest:

photo (55)

 Water Engine, Blackpaint

01.12.14

 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 467 – Mr.Turner, Marxist Ballet and Richter’s Postcards

November 1, 2014

Mr. Turner, Mike Leigh

Timothy Spall is great, the film looks terrific – but it’s got the usual biopic problem in that it’s episodic.  The boxes are checked, I presume in correct date order – visits to Petworth, Margate, famous paintings – the slaves in the sea, Rain, Steam and Speed, the Fighting Temeraire, lashed to the mast in the storm, Norham Castle, the red blob turned into a buoy, Victoria repelled by Sea Monsters – they missed out Turner in a boat sketching the great fire at Westminster, probably too difficult to simulate convincingly; but there is no story arc; it bumps along from one scenario to the next.  And there’s the dialogue – too Dickensy for me, too many periodisms.  And there are those scenes – the Royal Academy Varnishing Days and the boat trip out to the Temeraire – where famous characters and events are identified by theatrical introductions or grand statements.

There is a great fiddler in one sequence, on a ferry boat; he is Dave Holland.  As far as I could see, he got no credit at the end.  Every bit as good as Swarbrick in “Madding Crowd”.

Turner Prize – Duncan Campbell

There are two Campbell films; the first is “Sigmar”, based on Polke works (?); points form lines and intersections, dots are joined up to a soundtrack of barked commands in funny German accents.  Brings to mind those Czech cartoons you used to get on TVin the 60’s when there was a break in schedules.

Second film starts with an academic treatment of the role of tribal art in Western culture, of the construct of “negritude”, and ponders how black people should view it and take it forward.  It shows a number of examples of mostly African art.  This is followed by a Michael Clark ballet (below) based on Marx’s equations in “Kapital”.  Then a set of scenes involving hands, table, cloth, cup, soup, pan, sugar, lighted cig, ashtray – and a commentary that sounds like a diary and notes on the development of a film about capitalism.  Then, hands shuffling photographs – station, bear, Parisian streets, a bizarre street accident, Eiffel tower struck by lightning – with a commentary of letters from Allen to Freda.  I guessed Ginsburg, but couldn’t find anything to back that up.  Then a section on the death of Joe McCann in 1970 in Northern Ireland, his funeral and his image in a poster, and how the meaning of an image changes over time…

OK, right at the end is an image that stayed with me; voice drones on about the economics of the art market and the camera pans down over the cracked, green leather spine of an old-fashioned book and it’s suddenly like woodland trees in a misty evening, like that Seurat in the Kenneth Clarke exhibition at Tate Britain.

 

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Beckmann – Kitaj – Chagall

Watching the  BBC1 programme “The Art the Hitler Hated” the other night, I was struck by the Beckmann painting that turned up in the Munich flat of Cornelius Gurlitt and how similar it is to one of Ron Kitaj’s styles (see Cecil Court; the Refugees, below).  Not an original observation; Andrew Graham – Dixon remarked that Kitaj had done a bit of “fake” Beckmann and a bit of “fake” Picasso – “but mostly just fake” – in a hostile review at the time of Kitaj’s retrospective in 1994.

Actually, while writing this, another comparison occurred to me; Chagall.  I think it’s the positioning of figures in Kitaj’s obscure narrative pictures – they lie horizontal, lean, sprawl, do odd things (although I don’t think any fly)…..

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Gerhard Richter at Marian Goodman Gallery

Just visited this in Lower John Street, Soho.  Fabulous, huge white space.  There are several like the one below; done with lacquer, I think he places glass or perspex on top and shifts it to get the patterns – pretty much like  what Oscar Dominguez or Max Ernst – or both – called “Decalcomania”.  There are also huge linear pictures made with needle thin, dead straight, ink jet lines randomly selected by colour.  They’re novelties really; he’s playing about.  But then, a lot of art is famous artists playing about….  Best thing is a series of photos of landscapes altered by paint smudges and smears; a rockface nearly obscured and a farmer on a tractor stand out.

 

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Shark 

Why does Will Self keep italicising phrases in the text?  It reminds me of Krasnahorkai’s habit of randomly putting phrases in speech marks.

 

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DK Back

Blackpaint

01.11.14

 

 

Blackpaint 464 – Ponds and White Beards, Ennui, Clowns and World War I

October 10, 2014

Turner Prize

I’ve only really seen the first two candidates, James Richards and Tris Vonna – Marshall, properly; need to go back for Ciara Phillips and Duncan Campbell.  However, I was surprised that Laura Cummings panned the first two in the Observer on Sunday – I thought they were both great.  Both were video- based.

First, James Richards.  He has a series of developing images – insects on and just below the surface of a pond, a budgerigar, heavily censored “explicit” photographs by Man Ray and Mapplethorpe from Japanese library books.  The latter are censored by scribbles from a white pencil so that in one, a man on top of another appears to have an untidy white beard hanging down over the belly of the man beneath, as he stoops towards it ( no prizes).  All these various images are accompanied by a variety of soundtracks that have nothing to do with the images, so its about the subversion of understanding by incongruity.  It took me about half a minute, for example, to make sense of the budgie, even though it was quite clear.  The pond images are stunning and I found the censorship scratches aesthetically pleasing too – bit like white paint swatches on a Rauschenberg.

Tris Vonna-Marshall kicks off with a panning landscape shot of the Essex marshes apparently; curlews on the soundtrack, a fat brown chain in a sump, the links looking just like bulbous, slimy sausage, washed green, drained red buildings, a Turner/Britten feel to it – Cummings describes it as “rigidly indifferent….. could have been filmed by a robot”.  He then changes to black and white interiors and a bunch of disparate objects like boxes, photos and accompanies it with a frantic, stream -of -consciousness soundtrack in which he seems to be presenting a sort of bi-polar, wired inventory of things and actions, as if trying desperately to fix them in his mind.  Sounds terrible; I liked it.  His next video, with a soundtrack in which he is pursuing several rather obscure anecdotes with family members, contains a series of images which reminded me of Prunella Clough; for example,  a grass -covered manhole cover, slightly opened.  Don’t know what it all means; liked it all the same.

A common factor shared by Richards and Vonna-Marshall is Germany; Richards is based in Berlin, Vonna-Marshall has German parentage.  Phillips and Campbell in next blog.

Hopper and Sickert

There was a programme on Edward Hopper on Sky Arts during which I was struck by the similarity of two of his themes with those of Walter Sickert; alienation between partners and theatres.  Below are two examples: the styles are very different, of course, but the themes are the same.

 

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Edward Hopper – Room in New York

 

 

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Walter Sickert – Ennui

 

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Edward Hopper – Two Comedians 

 

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Walter Sickert – Brighton Pierrots

I’ve no idea if Hopper knew Sickert’s work , or vice versa; the only artist that Robert Hughes mentions in his essay on Hopper is de Chirico; Hughes detects an echo of him in Hopper’s scenarios.  I thought maybe a touch of Diebenkorn in his bathing- suited women…

Imperial War Museum

Now re-opened, the exhibits much thinned down and put into context with AV presentations.  All is explained; great bottlenecks of greyhairs and tourists reading and watching, like those punters with walkie talkies who stand in front of paintings for ten minutes, until the WT tells them to move on – and kids (at whom all this is presumably aimed) charging about, looking at not much.  I prefer to read about it at home and look at objects (trench clubs, McCudden’s smashed windscreen) with little labels in the museum.  Only managed WWI this time.

A new (or newly exhibited) painting below, by the Scottish Colourist Fergusson;

fergusson -dockyard portsmouth

JD Fergusson – Portsmouth Harbour

 

kennington - the Kensingtons at

Eric Kennington – The Kensingtons at Laventie

This was on display prior to the closure of the museum, and is still on show. Although Kennington did it from life apparently, I was struck by the Renaissance “feel” of it.  the soldiers look like figures at the base of the Cross, maybe – or a Della Francesca (none of them are connecting with each other, all in their private worlds).

All the President’s Men

Best film I saw last week (Clooney’s “The Descendants” a disappointment); there were some brilliant aerial shots of cars entering and leaving car parks (no, really) – all those different styles and colours!  Very tense, Hoffman, Redford and Robards all brilliant.  it was just a pity that it all got telescoped at the end, with the arrests and prosecutions and impeachment and resignation of Nixon just listed.  Still, it would have been about five hours long…

 

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Scraping the Surface 1 and 2

Blackpaint

10.10.14 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 228

December 8, 2010

Turner Prize

Won by Susan Philipsz, the sound artist, who had a recording of herself singing “Lowlands” installed under three bridges on the Clyde.  It was re-installed in the Tate Britain without the bridges, which some critics felt detracted from the work – difficult to see how to get round that one.  Anyway, she won and had apparently been the favourite throughout.  As I’ve said before, readers should listen to the Ann Briggs version, or Martin Carthy’s, if they can find it. 

A piece in the Guardian by Adrian Searle praised Philipsz’ work in the following terms: “Her current Artangel project, Surround Me, insinuates itself down alleys and courtyards in the City of London…. singing melancholy works by John Dowland… I have stood in shadowy old courtyards and between gleaming office blocks, weeping as I listen.”  Please, Mr. Searle, pull yourself together; we British don’t cry and we certainly don’t “weep”.

Having said that, I occasionally get the odd prickle in the corner of an eye when listening to the Matthew Passion or the Mass in B minor – and even in the presence of great paintings; Lavender Mist, Palisades, Berkeley series, most things by Joan Mitchell…

Martin Rowson

Has, well – deservedly, won the Low Prize for political cartoonists – despite the fact that you need to be really seriously up to speed on politics to get everything going on in his cartoons.  He has, however, failed to produce an arse- sucking drawing since I requested the same some time back (in a TV interview, he said that he had toned down such a cartoon at the request of an editor who was hungover and feeling sick).

Surely, the time for a double arse-licking cartoon has arrived, with the Assange affair: British magistrate licks Swedish prosecutor, who in turn licks Obama – or maybe Clinton…  Steve Bell has obliged today, with Uncle Sam fucking an ostrich; nice to see vulgarity standards falling – or rising – with BBC radio presenters saying “cunt” on air at every opportunity.

Quiz

Who did a painting of a massive Gordon’s Gin advert above a branch of Woolworths (that is, the advert was above Woolworths in the painting..)?

Blackpaint

08.12.10