Posts Tagged ‘Van Dongen’

Blackpaint 345 – Doc, Ray, Sigmar, Bela, Fred and Ginger

June 7, 2012

Two heroes gone this week –

Doc Watson

Listen to “Stack O’ Lee” and Alabama Bound”  on  “Ballads from Deep Gap”, with his son Merle accompanying him – country guitar playing beyond adequate description..

And…

Ray Bradbury

I’ve blogged about him before (see Blackpaints 41, 149, 170 ) and recently re-read seven of his short story books – I wrote down four, then counted them up; Silver Locusts, Small Assassin [Dark Carnival}, October Country, Illustrated Man, Golden Apples of the Sun, Dandelion Wine, Day it Rained Forever.  Easy to see his influence on Stephen King, which is a good thing – but then there’s the 1920s whimsical nostalgia; straw hats, striped blazers, bonnets, park bandstands, sarsaparilla, shades of Dick Van Dyke.  This can be wearing but it’s interspersed with real creepiness, malice and horror.  The Small Assassin for example, an intelligent, malign baby that murders its mother; the undertaker who abuses his clients in the mortuary and eventually gets his comeuppance; the Catacombs.  Best of all, I like “the Lake” from “The October Country” – an air of real melancholy.  I think it might be his earliest published story.

And back to art.

Sigmar Polke

Polke is an artist about whom I have written very little; the reason, I think, is that his work is so diverse, it’s difficult to get a handle on it.  If, for instance, you take four Polke pictures from Taschen’s “Contemporary Art” (1990), you find them completely different from each other.  “The Computer Moves In”, paint or ink sprayed on a photographic print (?) of someone seated at a computer station, on a pixelled background; “Camp 82”, a barbed-wire Auschwitz corridor between concrete fence posts and spot lights, under a baleful, dirty, grey/orange sky; and “Alice” – white outline drawing of Alice and the hookah-smoking caterpillar on his mushroom, on a background of white spots and green “football” wallpaper.  They are all from the early 80’s; “Socks”, from 1962, is a painting in varnish of three long brown socks laid out as if for display- it looks just like a Wayne Thiebaud.

The text makes great play of his light sense of irony and this lightness is maybe another thing that distinguishes him from other German artists of the period…

Picasso 

At the Tate Britain show of P’s influences on British artists, there were one or two startling, early Impressionist-style paintings that were impossible to recognise as Picassos.  The Rotterdam Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum apparently has another.  It is called “Woman at the Table Outside a Cafe”, from 1901.  A woman in a beautiful grey-green dress, in a cape and enormous white feather hat; red lips, challenging expression, slightly caricature-ish.  Apparently, she is an “old prostitute”, according to the catalogue.  The picture suggests Lautrec, or maybe Van Dongen (love that name).

Richard Pare

The sweeping “S” shape of the balustrade in the “Chekist Housing Scheme” stairwell, photographed in Moscow by Pare in 1999 and shown in the RA’s recent “Building the Revolution” show.  It’s exactly the sort of thing Fred and Ginger might have danced down in “Top Hat” or “Swing Time”. 

The Turin Horse

It’s all there; the relentless weather (wind this time), the pitch-dark, painterly interiors, the textures, the repetition, the dressing and undressing, the small actions performed in their entirety, no editing – the hot potatoes, eaten with burnt fingers, lips and mouths (cutlery not needed in Tarrland), the drinking of Palinka…  But then there is the beauty and sharpness of the images.  When the girl wrestles the well cover off, I was waiting for the Japanese girl to emerge…  The photographer is called Fred Keleman; he should get a mention – and of course, there is Vig, who writes and performs(?) the necessarily relentless accordion theme.  I don’t really care what it all means – it’s mesmerising.. but best in small doses.

Blackpaint

7/05/12

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Blackpaint 167

July 15, 2010

Beckett

Read on a bit more in Ellmann and I found that Beckett denied any charge of optimism in his work and countered the “I’ll go on” ending in “The Unnameable” with “Nohow on” in a subsequent work.  Still, artists aren’t necessarily the best guides to their own work; I shall persist in detecting optimism in his work, particularly in the thoughtfulness and sympathy with which his characters often treat each other (Vladimir and Estragon in Godot, for example).

When you consider, optimism is a pre-condition of creating art anyway.  Even if you are saying that everything is pointless, purposeless, and painful, the fact that you are saying it gainsays you.

Jawlensky (1864-1941) and Van Dongen (1877-1868)

Another pair who show strong similarities.  Jawlensky was a colourist first, did unlikely landscapes as well, and  was an associate of Kandinsky.  If you look at his painting “Schokko”, you will see that he has used a strong outline round the head and shoulders.  His other works are also outlined, sometimes almost by scratches in the paint as much as lines of pigment.

Van Dongen’s “Portrait of Dolly” shows no such use of outline.  In other respects, however, the use of colour and approach to subject, the two are strikingly similar.  Different countries, movements and influences, however.  Jawlensky went further along the road to abstraction – see his “abstract heads” – but not so far as Kandinsky.

De Stael and Diebenkorn

This is probably totally fanciful, but if you take a picture of de Stael’s “Portrait of Anne”, done in 1953, and turn it upside-down or on its side, you have a pretty close approximation to a Diebenkorn abstract landscape.  Black and red maybe a bit more intense, but not much…  So what? You might ask – nothing of great import, except that it indicates the degree of abstraction in the de Stael and it reflects positively on both artists, to my thinking, anyway.  Why no TV profiles on them and their work?  list of further artist TV profiles to follow…

Tadeusz Kantor

Finally for now, Google the above artist and see at least three staggering (must stop this).. very interesting gestural/abstract paintings, amidst a host of pictures of his theatrical projects.  and that face – straight out of Expressionist cinema.  Actually, he looks just like Artaud; maybe it IS Artaud in one of Kantor’s productions.

Take this Hammer by Blackpaint.  An old image, used twice before I think.  Title nicked from Leadbelly.

Take this hammer, and carry it to the captain (*3)

You can tell him I’m gone, you can tell him I’m gone.

Blackpaint

15.07.10