Posts Tagged ‘Vanessa Bell’

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 586 – Voodoo and Venus in Barcelona and Bloomsbury

February 13, 2017

MACBA, Barcelona

Museum of Contemporary Art.  Fabulous white Bauhaus-y building, reminiscent of  Helsinki, besieged by surly, hooded skateboarders.  First, “Hard Gelatin” (1977 – 82); politics, pretty much Anarchist/punk/porn/activist, two fingers stuff; some comic called “Buttafera” was the focus of much.  Porn drawings and posters featuring sucking, dismemberment; old photos of protests, “happenings”; video of transvestite Spanish Donna, roaring songs in alternate deep voice and falsetto…

macba-porn-2

 

macba-porn-3

Wow – radical.

 

 

jordi-benito

Next, science/tech “experiments:  above is Jordi Benito, “Hands transforming ice into water by body heat”; like a hand dance, strangely beautiful (he wrote pretentiously).  Also Beuys – like pieces, producing spunky white froth under a glass dome – and a giant wooden barrel rocket ship by Mireilles.

fina-miralles

Rather like Keith Arnatt, I think.  There’s another series of her gradually disappearing into a hole in the ground; even more like Arnatt.

Plenty of other stuff, but the real hit for me was Antoni Miralda, or Miralda Madeinusa, as he styles himself.  His first installation (below) is in a disused chapel next to the museum and is called “Santa Comida” (Holy Food) – series of shrines round the inside of chapel, Yoruba deities, transformed in the Americas to Santoria or Voodoo.  Ogun was the main deity.  Offerings of food – sardines, cod, herrings for the fish god, bay leaves, bananas, canned goods for the earth god; loads of little figurines – one was Oliver Hardy – mostly South American by appearances.

This is all from Miralda’s personal archive; but he is also a forerunner of Jeremy Deller, in that he gets lots of people to take part in, or mount exhibitions, parades, events and then makes videos of it all, and related artworks.  This one dates from 1984-89.

 

miralda-1

Holy Food

In the MACBA building, several more Miralda installations and commemorations:  in “Wheat and Steak” (1981), in Kansas City, he got people to parade with floats and placards of steaks and a three -tier “Tri-Uni-Corn” (below), which was the main float.

 

miralda-3-cow

In “Breadline” (1977), there are videos of the Rangerettes of Kilgore College. Texas, going through their training routines; a long line of dyed bread slices, green, red, yellow, orange (below); “Texas TV Dinner”, a series of disgusting, video images of fast food, franks etc., appearing on screens set in a counter next to groups of condiments.  Also, videos of dyed macaroni “landscapes”…

 

miralda-4-bread

Hail Caesar (Coen Bros, 2016);  Trumbo (Jay Roach, 2015)

Both of these films set in the McCarthy era in Hollywood. the Coen Bros one, features George Clooney in his manic comic mode, as a star kidnapped by a group of Communist screen writers, and is a skit, complete with a Russian submarine and a cowboy hero who I guess is based on Audie Murphy.  A brilliant dance scene, sailors in a bar, worthy of Follow the Fleet, or more closely, On the Town.

Trumbo is a conventional biopic, featuring Bryan Cranston as the left-wing screenwriter who did time for refusing to cooperate with HUAC et al and had to use a front man to submit his scripts, including Roman Holiday.  Heroes: Kirk Douglas, Otto Preminger, both of whom hired Trumbo and credited him; villains: John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, but above all, Hedda Hopper, played here by Helen Mirren.  Good, but weak; Edward G Robinson, who initially stood out against the witch hunt but buckled to pressure in the end and named names.

Sussex Modernism at 2 Temple Place

Stunning wood -pannelled house, built by David Waldorf Astor, watched over by a gaitered officer (of the Temple? Church?), thronged with grey and white heads on Saturday we visited, as might be expected.

A bizarre Venus and Adonis by Duncan Grant (below); just look at that twist and the positioning of the head!  Also by Grant, a beautiful still life with wine bottle and flower.

Venus and Adonis c.1919 Duncan Grant 1885-1978 Purchased 1972 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T01514

A life size Christ from the wall of Berwick Church, based, I think, on David Garnett (quite wrong about this – it was either Edward le Bas or poss. Leonard Woolf).  A most impressive table model of the De la Warr Pavilion in Bexhill and the David Jones (below) done at Capel-y-Finn, I believe.  Several Vanessa Bells, but nothing remarkable; Gaudier-Brzeska, Wadsworth and other surrealists and of course, several Eric Gill pieces to raise the aesthetic, if not necessarily the moral tone.

 

Jones, David; The Garden Enclosed; Tate; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-garden-enclosed-199551

Next blog, Picasso in Barsa, Soutine, Swinton and Fiennes in Italy.

time-and-place-no-7

Time and Place no.7

Blackpaint

13/2/17

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 559 – Yellow, Pink and Tweedy Things

June 20, 2016

I’m not sure if this is a finished painting or not, or if it’s the right way round.  One thing I am sure of is that it lacks good taste, so that’s a point in its favour.  Like several other paintings I’ve done, it looks a bit like someone running away to the left, trying to escape, perhaps, from the threatening mass of yellow coming in from the right.

yellow one 2

The Yellow Thing

Blackpaint, 20.06.16

 

Mary Heilmann at Whitechapel Gallery

Great free exhibition, some examples below.  One criticism:  too many dots.  They remind me of Smarties and give the whole show a sort of nursery overtone (enhanced by the fluorescent little pieces of furniture).  I know this is not a valid point, but more of an unreconstructed male prejudice, but there we are.

mary heilmann1

This spidery motif is repeated effectively in several other works, as are the spots and stripes.

 

mary heilmann2

Reminds me of that great Vanessa Bell abstract (below), done with less muted colours – and less texture, but texture is something that Heilmann does do elsewhere, swirling her brush where you might expect matt finish.  That pink square in that position must be a reference, surely.

bell abstract

Vanessa Bell

 

mary heilmann3

Still my favourite Heilmann painting; I like the thin, trickle- down effect in that beautiful blue-green.  Terrific exhibition, if you can handle the dots.

New Tate Modern gallery – the Switch House

switch house

The cladding, spaced – out beige bricks (they seem to be supported by rubber washers), looks like tweed.  A vaguely Aztec tweed tower with a pleat up the side.  Inside, blond wood floors and stairs, Fred and Ginger spirals, the “Maria and Peter Kellner Bridge”.  Dizzy, full window views here and there.

Most of the memorable art seemed to be by women; I think they are operating a 50-50 policy now, I guess that’s only in the new bit.  These are the works I remember:

  • Roni Horn’s big glass pink cube.
  • Rebecca Horn’s roomful of surreal costumery, inspired surely by Ernst (feathers) and maypoles (head extension).
  • Lygia Clark’s huge grey metal – well, air conditioning unit, it looks like, lying in the middle of the gallery, as if brought from the Ali Baba kebab restaurant in Bloomsbury (NB – I THINK it’s Clark’s; the labelling generally is infuriatingly difficult to match to the pieces).
  • A roomful of Louise Bourgeois pieces, very similar to those currently on show in the Guggenheim, Bilbao – see last blog – and containing several of the very few paintings of any description in the new bit; Mark Bradford’s big, dark, abstract cityscape-ish picture is the only other thing on a wall, as I recall.

 

roni horn

Roni Horn’s pink cube

  • Ana Lupas, Romanian artist, farmers’ wheat structures, contained in “tins”.
  • Down at the bottom in the tanks, when we went, there was a musician playing a sort of hurdy-gurdy, amplified electronically; it made a clicking drone which seemed to loosen your fillings.

 

Lygia Clark at Alison Jacques Gallery, W1

An exhibition of Clark’s work from the fifties.  She was Brazilian, died in 1988 and made a whole lot of intricate little hinged metal pieces, one of which is in the new Tate Mod gallery – maybe two, if she did the “AC unit”, described above.  But that is neither hinged, nor little…  There is a MOMA catalogue of Clark’s work in the gallery and when you see a whole lot of these contrivances together, they take on the feel of executive desk toys.  I liked the pieces below, however, especially the miniature room – seen a lot of these lately, in the Bilbao Bourgeois show for example.

lygia clark1

 

lygia clark2

lygia clark3

Gomorrah, Sky Atlantic

It’s Series 2, episode 12 or 13 already, but I’ve only just discovered it.  The gangster taste, the violence, the haircuts, the huge, dilapidated, concrete spaceship flats -fantastic, but above all, the language.  Neapolitan dialect, sounds like Portuguese to me, nothing like Italian, and the theme – “Nuje Vulimme ‘Na Speranza” by Nto’ and Lucariello.

gomorrah-tile-a1b8f830

 

yellow one 1

Maybe it’s better this way round?

Blackpaint

20.06.16

 

Blackpaint 462 – Constable, John and Albert, Turtle Burners’ Best

September 18, 2014

Alastair Sooke on Constable

Two things surprised me in this programme:  first, the fact that Turner was established as a Royal Academy member before Constable; I’d always thought it was the other way round (I suppose because Turner strikes me as the more “modern” of the two); second, the great enthusiasm for Constable in France.  Delacroix apparently repainted one of his own works after seeing a Constable.  The latter treated this adulation with contempt and steadfastly refused to go to France to promote his work.

Still not convinced by Sooke’s case that Constable was a revolutionary figure in the art world, however.

Programmes on Abstract Art, BBC4

I found the Matthew Collings prog great – an hour and a half on abstract art, what could be wrong? – but inevitably, some omissions.  Nothing, I think, on Lanyon, Frost, Hilton, Blow or any of the other St.Ives painters.  Hoyland was there, but not enough and the fabulous Albert Irvin surely was worth another ten minutes.  I like Collings’ own paintings – they always remind me of Festival of Britain motifs – but they don’t look much fun to produce.

High time Hoyland and Irvin had books on them produced by Tate.

hoyland

 

 

Hoyland

irvin empress

 Irvin

Virginia Woolf at the National Portrait Gallery

Not that many paintings – lots of photos, diary extracts etc. – but the few that are there are great.  There’s the Duncan Grant portrait of Virginia that looks like a Toulouse Lautrec, the Vanessa Bell portrait of her with the features practically omitted, except for the mouth and the Grant portrait of a Strachey (I think), sprawled along or across a red sofa.  The best to my mind though, is the little Bell portrait of Saxon at the piano; looks like a Gwen John to me.

vanessa bell saxon

BP Portrait Exhibition, National Portrait Gallery

The two paintings that I thought stood out at the Turtle Burners’ prize this year were by Richard Twoze and William Kloze – I hope I have spelt them correctly.  I didn’t pick them because the names rhyme; didn’t even notice until later.

Twoze painting of Jean Clark got second prize; the Kloze one, of his wife at home in Thailand, has that thing that Freud was so keen on – everything in picture is given equal attention (almost); the metal lamp, the copper-lit doorway; the rendition of the wife has something of Euan Uglow.

richard twose jean woods

 

Twoze

william klose

 

Klose

 

I am in Crete at the moment, but back next week.  Until then, old ones will have to suffice.

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Blackpaint

18.09.14

 

 

Blackpaint 456 – Malevich, Bohemia and Bloomsbury

July 21, 2014

Among the Bohemians, Virginia Nicholson

Just finished this rambling, but most enjoyable tour of “Bohemia” by Vanessa Bell’s granddaughter.  It suffers from jumping up and down the decades within themes, often without giving dates, but a good episodic read all the same.  I was astonished to read that Dora Carrington, whose appearance and paintings  give one an impression of strength and intelligence, shot herself after the death of Lytton Strachey.  Bohemia was about drink, drugs, sex and all that – but also about free thinking, freedom from convention, the use of the intellect; pity to read of a great woman artist destroying herself over the loss of a companion (Strachey was homosexual).

Nicholson seems to me rather reticent about Eric Gill, given his unconventional home life and the current climate of opinion in the UK about child abuse; since the word “Bohemian” denotes, among other things, unconventional behaviour, I expected to read more about Gill than was there.  She describes Gill’s behaviour as “preposterous”.

The Art of Bloomsbury, Richard Shone

This book was published in conjunction with a Tate exhibition of 2000; I’ve only just got round to reading it.  The painters it deals with are Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Roger Fry.  I was surprised by the colour, beauty, variety and technique displayed by all three artists,,  having always thought of them as a bit “brown” and boringly British.  Just flicking through, there are works that resemble Lautrec (Grant’s Virginia Woolf), the Scottish Colourists (Fry’s Blythburgh and Studland Bay), William Nicholson (Bell’s Iceland Poppies), Bonnard (Bell’s The Open Door and Grant’s Window, South of France and the Doorway); there are fabulous abstracts by Bell that look like Winifred Nicholson, more by Grant and luscious still lifes by both Bell and Grant, the best of which is Grant’s Omega Paper Flowers on the Mantelpiece.  A lovely book and I’m off to Charleston as soon as poss.

grant vanessa

Grant

bell the open door

Bell

grant omega

Grant

bell abstract

 

Bell

 

Malevich, Tate Modern 

So, enough of all this Bloomsbury and Bohemia stuff – off to TM, where proper theoretical painting is on display.  that is to say, it’s underpinned and driven by theory, a good analysis of which can be found in Boris Groys’ “The Total Art of Stalinism”.

In the first room, there is all sorts, as Malevich casts around for a style – some of it looked to me like German Expressionism, nudes surrounded by heavy black lines; Seurat – style landscapes; little collections of figures with Toulouse Lautrec figures; Munch/Nolde – like paintings; a strange, frog-like “dancer” with huge, clubbed hands and feet.

Next, Larionov/ Goncharova influenced peasants, growing more abstract, peasants with metallic, Leger like bodies; Theatre costumes like later Bauhaus efforts; the famous Black Square.

Malevich,-The-Woodcutter,-1912_original

Next, floating, coloured geometric shapes on white, the Suprematist paintings, seeming to be in the process of flying apart or coming together and, in one or two cases, resembling abstractified figures, despite the fact that Malevich gives one or two ironic “realist” titles when they clearly don’t represent the indicated “real” thing at all.

malevich

There is a room of drawings arranged by decade, often showing rough, freehand sketches of the geometric paintings; then, back towards figuration, with highly stylised peasants, metallic, harlequin, clown-like figures that wouldn’t have been nearly realist enough for the regime and finally Social Realist portraits that show the final capitulation of any independence or experimentation.

Malevich died of cancer in 1935, not in the gulag (although he had been imprisoned).  If he’d lived, I’m sure he would have been shot at some stage, despite the SR stuff.

Orlando, book and film

Back to Bloomsbury for a moment; I’ve started Woolf’s book and watched Sally Potter’s film of the same.  There are big differences in the narratives, but they are each great works in their own right.  It’s fascinating to read Woolf’s work in chronological order and see how she changes; this novel is certainly the easiest read yet (not quite Stephen King, but getting there) and the most visual.

The Potter film has strong resemblances to Greenaway’s style, in the use of location and music; the violence and grossness are missing, but it does have Tilda Swinton.

Big Painting

I’m trying to go big by sticking two canvases side by side and painting one image across them.  Results below  – the second image is  the painting as it stands now, but no doubt it will change.  It’s called, for obvious reasons, “Critical Theory – a Guide”.

 

 

?????????? –

First Version

 

??????????

 

Current Version

Blackpaint

22.07.14 

Blackpaint 384 – I Hate Lists.

March 7, 2013

Stoker

Great film, directed by Park Chan-wook, starring Eva Wasikowska,  which seems to be dividing critics; Philip French in the Observer seemed to think it was just too much of everything, especially the Philip Glass score.  It’s full of references, visual and verbal, to other films  and it would be tedious to list the few that I got – so, here goes:

Psycho, throughout- Uncle Charlie’s appearance in distance on the hill,  echoing the Psycho poster, the motel, the shower scene; Carrie – India’s white dress stained red by the light outside the diner where she talks to the biker; Edward Hopper, the same scene (not the biker, the diner-and I know, Hopper a painter, not a film); Marnie (maybe) –  the red staining of the flowers recalling Tippi Hedren’s half-memory of the blood staining the back of Bruce Dern’s sailor’s suit…; Deliverance –  the policeman speaking to India, recalling the sheriff’s conversation with Jon Voigt – “Oh, he’ll come in drunk  probably…”..  A few fanciful ones – Deer Hunter?  Grease?  Stand by Me?  I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch of teen vampire refs in there and I read that Shadow of a Doubt, another Hitchcock that I haven’t seen, has a murderous Uncle Charlie.

There are some visual moments that have to be mentioned; the spider disappearing up India’s skirt, Nicole Kidman’s hair turning to grass, the blood spattering the flowers – sorry, done that one already.

The Lair of the White Worm

A Bram Stoker book, appropriately; Ken Russell directed a 1988 “version” which was on TV last week and providentially, I happened on it whilst trawling the horror channels.  It has to be seen to be believed, and even then..  Hugh Grant as Lord d’Ampton – the whole thing is inspired by the legend of the Lambton Worm – and Peter Capaldi as Angus the archaeologist, who digs up the snake’s skull and the Roman temple remains.  The acting of the entire cast is reminiscent of the Five Go Wild series; you are contemplating switching channels, thinking how sad to see Ken in decline, when suddenly – a psychedelic interlude!  Christ bleeding on the cross, entwined by a revolting giant white worm thing, surrounded by screaming, bloodstained nuns being raped and slaughtered by Roman soldiers, all in acid colours – and we’re back in Russell territory.  In a later vision, the nuns are impaled on stakes, like victims of Vlad.

A later dream sequence has Amanda Donohoe wrestling with Catherine Oxenberg as a pair of sexy air “hostesses” on board a jet in which Hugh Grant sits tied up, playing with his pencil…  And Capaldi, in kilt, charming the serpent by playing the tune of the Lambton Worm to it on the bagpipes and suddenly producing a hand grenade – where did he get that?  Before leaving the film, I must mention that the virtually naked Donohoe drowns a harmonica playing boy scout in her bath.  Actually, he’s finished playing – she does a little snake dancing to it and then snatches his harmonica away, irritably, before pushing him under the water with her foot.

For me, it’s up there with The Wicker Man (Roeg version, of course); what a double bill that would make. NB – correction!  Wicker Man directed by Robin Hardy, NOT Nick Roeg.  Sorry – mix-up, because Wicker Man was originally released in a double bill with Don’t Look Now – which was, of course, directed by Roeg.

BBC yourpaintings website

I’ve just been browsing this website and the following paintings caught my eye from the first 10 pages of the 99 devoted to Tate collections:

  • A Man Who Suddenly Fell Over, Michael Andrews, 1952  
  • A Singer at the Bedford Music Hall, Spencer Gore, 1912 – is that the Bedford in Balham?  Looks a bit Keith Vaughan…
  • Abstract Painting, Vanessa Bell, 1914 – that pink and dark yellow very like a much later Ben Nicholson; love the roughness.
  • A Tree Study, Robert Medley, 1959 – never heard of him.
  • Abstract, Gillian Ayres.

(c) Gillian Ayres; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Ayres

This website is the sort of place where you might end up browsing for hours, days, months…

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Seaside

Blackpaint

07.03.13

Blackpaint 372 – It’s all about women, beaches and room 47

December 20, 2012

Tate Britain

They seem to be re-opening the galleries one or two at a time.  Went there a couple or three weeks ago and there were no 20th century rooms open; now several rooms have opened up – the Frank Bowlings are on view again and the early C20th room, with some new additions.  There is a Christopher Wood, “The Fisherman’s Farewell”, a nice little Alfred Wallis view of St.Ives and a beautiful, leaf green Dora Carrington of two tiny female figures in Edwardian white, gazing at a huge green hill which overhangs them.

There is  a Stanley Spencer Resurrection set in Cookham; in the middle of the graveyard, several African women – are they all women? – , one wearing a set of gold neck rings, are among those rising ; what’s the story there, I wonder?  Apparently, Spencer was unable to give a clear explanation, except that the picture was supposed to represent a sort of universality and some stuff about instinctiveness – also, he was interested in African art at the time.

In the same, or maybe the next room, several beautiful Gwen Johns, especially one called “the Invalid” or “The Convalescent”; it’s next to Harold Gilman’s “Mrs. Mounter”.  And there’s a great nude by Wilson Steer – I always thought he did landscapes.

wilson steer

I like to do that thing of standing in the middle of the room and scanning round with half-closed eyes – yes, you get curious glances – to see which paintings grab your attention.  Sometimes, of course, it’s the most garish ones, like the Francis Hodgkin one with the green faces; often, it works though, and you get the “best” pictures.  This time, it was the Whistler “Woman in White”, leaning on her mantlepiece, her head against the mirror (surely the reflection is a bit too low?)  and – maybe in an adjoining room – that Vanessa Bell from 1912, of the women on the beach with the sun hats and the bathing tent.  Simple but magic and very early.

whistler

vanessa bell

Turner

There is a whole roomful of mostly watercolour sketches, clouds, skies, beaches, that are so much more beautiful (to the modern eye) than the more conventional of his big, finished canvases.  One in particular, called “A Lay In”(?), like ripples across a sandy surface.  Among the bigger paintings, one should seek out the whaler boiling blubber – it has a much longer Turner title – and the Doge marrying the sea in Venice – where else?

Hidden and Inland Empire

Great Michael Haneke film with Binoche and Daniel Auteuil, in which the French media bourgeosie are threatened and made uneasy by guilt over their colonialist past, embodied by an impoverished North African and his son..  They deserve it for being very smug and irritating, completely unlike the British bourgeoisie, who, of course, are neither smug nor irritating and always behaved impeccably in the colonies.  

I happened to watch David Lynch’s “Inland Empire” immediately afterwards; there was an apparent coincidence.  In Hidden, a sudden suicide takes place in room 47 of an apartment block; in Empire, Laura Dern shoots someone and then runs into room 47.  In Empire, a leering face with blood pouring from mouth, appears straight after this; in Hidden, there are mystery drawings sent – of a face with blood pouring from mouth.  I thought I’d discovered something here – but no, someone in a Southern California university has already written a long piece on it.

La Regle du Jeu

Schumacher the gamekeeper was played by Gaston Modot, who, as I said last blog, was also “The Man” in “l’Age d’Or”; I should also have mentioned the beautiful Nora Gregor, the fatal femme Christine – a cross between Marlene Dietrich and Kristin Scott Thomas, I think.

Happy Christmas to my readers.  Log on to Paintlater’s blog to see some fantastic AbEx paintings.

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Oceanic Orpheus

Blackpaint

20.12.12

Blackpaint 243

January 18, 2011

Tate Britain

Half the place a building site, as Fiona Banner’s planes are dismantled – wings were going out the door as I arrived.  No new paintings, but some things I missed last time:

Vanessa Bell, “Studland Beach” – two large hatted women watch another at a shoreline changing tent, like a worshipper at a white monolith.  Simple “plates” of deep blue, cream and ochre, very effective from a distance.

Lucien Freud – a portrait of his first wife (who died the other day) with those huge, intense eyes.  Looks as if she’s strangling the cat she is holding up to the viewer.

The collection of little sculptures -Meadows, Chadwick, Armitage – remind me of those lines in Prufrock: “I should have been a pair of ragged claws/ Scuttling across the floors of silent seas” – or again, Rex Warner’s “Light and Air”: ” even the pale of pearl, nip, clip of dawn/ on cold coasts curling over the grey waves..”.

Keith Vaughan, “Theseus and the Minotaur” – a naked woman, presumably Ariadne, seated, a naked man stretched out asleep on a bed – Theseus? – and a humanoid form, I assume the Minotaur, standing over him.  This is obviously a version of the story with which I am unfamiliar.

Auerbach, “Building Site on Oxford Street” – today, it looks like a thick, liquid mass of mud or faeces; cream, red-brown, grey and yellow, with straight lines ploughed trough the morass with fingers or brush.  Last time, I thought it looked “bejeweled”.

Blake, “The Good and Evil Angels” – the label next to the painting points out that the bad angel has a heavy build and dark skin (reflecting “non-European stereotypes” of the time); but it also looks to me as if he is blind – his eyes have no pupils.  No reference to this on the legend.  A look at the Tate website, however, provides a clue; for Blake the bad angel represents energy, the good, reason. This would make sense; energy is blind without the direction of reason.  Possibly.

Marc Vaux (b.1932)

This artist has a whole room, containing seven large works.  They are smooth textured, uniformly layered colours, mint green, brown, cream, red, blue, grey and black.  Two have bolt-on metal or perspex appendages, in one case, like a frame imposed on the picture a little short of the edges and a little away from the canvas.  Half circles, bent stripes, wedge shapes.

Tarkovsky’s “Mirror “

Watched this again today and was interested to see the scene where the woman washes her hair and rises in slow motion from the sink, her hair covering her face and dripping, while water runs down the charred walls of the wooden house behind her.  That’s where the little girl in “The Ring” came from, surely.

Blackpaint

18.01.11