Posts Tagged ‘un Chien Andalou’

Blackpaint 279

June 11, 2011

Franz Kline

Time, surely, for a Taschen book on Kline; I’ve just come across a painting by him called “Gay Street Rooftops” dated 1941.  Good, but pretty conventional cityscape stuff.  I’d like to know how he got from that to those black and white structures (Chinese letters, some compare them to) for which he is known.

Riopolle

“Vol de Chute” from 1961, a fantastic, Appel-like painting, lozenge shapes of colour with that spidery black scoring outlining them in bands, like barbed wire; blue, yellow, orange, white, green , grey…  it’s all there.

Pollock

“Grey Center”, (I know, but it’s an American picture) 1946, one of the Accabonac Creek series; lots of leggy, angular shapes – maybe more like  knees and elbows, I thought at first by Lee Krasner, rather than Pollock;  it’s in white, grey, pink and ochre – de Kooning colours.  Still appears to have vestiges of the figures he used to put at either side of his paintings; “Pasiphae”, for instance (name of the painting was supplied by his dealer, Pollock not being familiar with Ovid at the time).

Fra Angelico

A while back, writing about violence in paintings, I mentioned Caravaggio’s Abraham and  Isaac, saying that C ‘s painting showed a brutal realism. It is exemplified  in the way Abraham grasps the boy’s face and throat in preparation for the killing stroke with the knife.  Of all artists, Fra Angelico matches this in his “Massacre of the Innocents” (San Marco, Florence).  The soldier on the far right grasps a woman’s throat while thiusting the dagger into her baby’s throat; she is holding the blade, trying to push it away.  Expressions of grief and horror, and violence all around.

This contrasts strongly with Piero della Francesca, who was being discussed, I think by Tim Marlow on TV the other night.  The painting in question was a battle scene but it appeared to me to be absolutely static – something in the way Piero paints seems to drain all movement from his paintings.  And the faces appear expressionless; they don’t engage with the other figures, but usually stare out from the canvas.  I think they look like figures in surrealist paintings, say Delvaux or de Chirico.

Le Quattro Volte

Film by Michelangelo Frammartino.  A sort of seasonal portrait of an Italian mountain village, almost silent – the camera views from a distance much of the time.  It has the Brughel snow scene (cf. Tarkovsky’s “Mirror”); close-ups of wood surfaces, like a tree trunk with lichen and scrambling ants, drifting smoke, a spectacular sky – and lots of goats – those amazing rectangular retinal slots in their eyes.  It seems as if nothing much happens, but it does: a goatherd looks after his flock, coughs, and dies eventually-  we accompany him into the catacomb and hear the door shut on us.  There is a crucifixion festival, a tree felling and climbing festival, and eventually – second time I’ve said that, must say something about the film – we find out what they’re making and why all the smoke.

It skirts sentimentality – the little lost goat, the doughty dog, life and death, life goes on, the men  shake hands with each other  before doing business….  I suppose all films are romantic in one sense, though, as soon as you frame a scene and a narrative emerges.  What about Chien Andalou and l’Age d’Or?  Probably they’re romantic too – have to think about that one.

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Saturday

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Blackpaint 278

June 6, 2011

British Museum

Spent just an hour wandering through the galleries on second floor; after a couple of minutes found myself deeply absorbed in those black and red earth pots that look as if they were made yesterday, rather than 2000 years ago.  Stories of Theseus, Hercules, the Trojan War, distance runners, javelin throwers…  Then, there were the paintings from the walls of Pompeii – Icarus nose-diving, Odysseus tied to the mast while the Sirens sing (harpy-like birds instead of beautiful women), Ariadne watching Theseus, leaving her abandoned on Naxos…  Then, those bearded, smugly smiling Cypriot statues, then the Judgement of Paris, done by the Etruscans in that Egyptian-style profile, cartoon faces with pointy noses and chins, eyes set halfway down the nose, copied the style from Picasso, maybe. A large plaster or stone plaque, showing Anthony “pleasuring” Cleopatra, as they say, in the back of a barge, while a boatman stares determinedly ahead…

Then, the Medieval Europe room, and the Tring Tiles; non-biblical legends of Jesus as a child, accidentally killing several of his playmates and then reviving them under the direction of his mother, the BVM.  Similar story on a Young Tradition album I have.

Back to the Greeks a moment – I was pleased to see how many different sorts of pots and cups and jars they had to deal with the task of wine drinking; the kratos for mixing, others for cooling, amphorae for storage with the long, pointed ends for handling.  Clearly, they kept their units up.

Tate Modern

Did the Miro again, and this time, I liked those metallic grey-black-brown ones with the piercingly bright red, white and black blobs crawling on them – “Escape Ladder” and the others – better than last visit.  I thought one of the burnt canvases looked OK; the others like try-outs.  Still liked the Black Fireworks and the condemned cell one, and this time, noticed the three wooden staves at the end – the King, Queen and Prince.  Thought they were quite good, as Adrian might say.

Mitch Epstein

US photographer, pictures of working and derelict industrial structures, oil derricks etc., in the coastal southern states.  In one photograph, of a derrick on the sea shore, the reflection in the water looks just like one of those “Season” Twomblys.

Do Ho Suh 

Look up – there’s a red polyester staircase starting in mid-air above your head.  A bit Whiteread, a bit Abakanowicz…

Painting

Seriously thinking about that good taste thing – that’s to say a picture looks good or OK when you can say it looks a bit Lanyon, or Scully or Twombly – you have to refer to some other painter who is good.  No point in that, really; but it’s really hard to get away from.  Maybe force yourself to stop before you’ve got it to that stage (i.e. when it still looks shit) or get a good Lanyonesque and then sabotage it with pink lines or something.

Un Chien Andalou

I was surprised to find, on buying the DVD (l’Age D’or) that the eyeball-slitting scene comes at the beginning, not the end, as I falsely remembered. It’s still very funny, I think; the bicycle crash, the desperate expression of the youth watching the ants run from the hole in his hand,  the two seminarists being dragged across the floor with the piano and the dead donkeys.  One of them was Dali (the seminarists, not the donkeys).  The youth reminds me of Richard E Grant in “Withnail”.  The end, with the two of them half-buried in sand, maybe lodged in Beckett’s mind; it’s like “Happy Days”.

According to Wikipedia, the woman in the film commited suicide – she burnt herself alive ; the young man also killed himself, with an overdose.  Bringdown, as we used to say in the 60s.

Blackpaint

06.06.11