Posts Tagged ‘Veronese’

Blackpaint 475 – Blackpaint’s Best and Worst Exhibitions of 2014

December 29, 2014

My Ten Best Exhibitions of 2014

I know, I’m sorry, but lists are really easy and I already have all the pictures ready.

Nicolas de Stael, le Havre

Mostly landscapes and sea views, with a few fantastic abstracts, from the latter part of his career.

de Stael big red

Martial Raysse, Pompidou Centre

I’d never heard of him, but he’s France’s most expensive living painter (not that that means he’s good – but he is).  Comparable, I think, to Richard Hamilton as an ideas man.

raysse1

Malevich, Tate Modern

Stupendous exhibition, both in the nature of the work on show and its historical interest and importance.  How did he manage to avoid being shot?  I think he probably died of natural causes just in time…

Malevich,-The-Woodcutter,-1912_original

Georges Braque, Guggenheim Bilba0

To be truthful, I’d thought of him as Picasso’s more boring collaborator in Cubism, so I was excited to see the beautiful works on dark backgrounds here.

braque red tablecloth

Cezanne and the Modern, Ashmolean 

Cezanne, Manet, VG, Degas and the revelation of those Soutine Expressionist townscapes and portraits.  Soutine was a favourite of De Kooning, so he’s good enough for me…

soutine1

Soutine

Richard Deacon, Tate Britain

Twisting, tortured, beautiful shapes in twisted, tortured materials.  And, mostly, huge…

deacon1

Veronese, National Gallery

Huge compositions, luscious colours, dramatic gestures, fabulous flesh – and some crap, insipid  Jesuses to offset the brilliance…

veronese1

Kenneth Clark Collection, Tate B

Pretty good stuff, Ken, even though you ploughed a particular furrow and had a “firm” (distorting?) hold on British modern art.  I loved the Pasmores, Sutherlands, Moores, Trevor Bell…

sutherland clark1

 

Graham Sutherland

Egon Schiele, Courtauld

Once seen never forgotten, these scrawny, distorted, perfectly drawn figures and faces.  How would he have developed, had he lived a longer life?

schiele2

Frankenthaler/ Turner, Margate

Bit tenuous, the link between the two; basically, hers look like landscapes and they both do washes – but some beautiful works from both.  Knew the Turners but not the Helens…

frank 2 cromagnon

 

Also great, but not quite…

Matisse Cut-Outs – I loved them, but it needed a few paintings to beef it up.

Silent Partners, Fitzwilliam, Cambridge – the mannikins exhibition; some beautiful pictures, notably Millais’ Black Brunswicker..

millais the black brunswicker

Richard Hamilton. Tate Britain – bursting with ideas, but cold, somehow..

Modern Art and St. Ives, International Exchanges 1915 – 65; Tate St.Ives – this one full of  brilliant art, but I knew most of them so it didn’t make the top ten.  Actually now I come to think, this was my real number two after de Stael.

winifred nicholson

 

 

Winifred Nicholson

And the Turner Prize was pretty good this year, even though it was nearly all video and the wrong one won.

So, having done the best, here’s My Worst Exhibitions of 2014:

Franz Widerberg, at the Kings Place.  Alien spacemen in horrible colours.

Richard Tuttle at the Whitechapel – mostly ticky-tacky.

Gerhard Richter at the Goodman Gallery – great artist, playing about.

Making Colour, National Gallery – not as exciting as it could have been.

Ruin Lust, Tate Britain – ditto.

OK, that’s enough; maybe I’ll do films and books tomorrow.  If not, Happy New Year from all at blackpaint.wordpress.com.  Bye!

watercolour1

watercolour2

 Life Drawings

Blackpaint

29.12.14

 

 

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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:

grace

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);

hardy strang

Thomas Hardy, by William Strang

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

rivers sylvester

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”.

downfall2

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.

nefertiti2

nefertiti

And Holbein…

holbein gisze

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

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 440 – Veronese and Orwell; Vanilla Halos, Bugs in the Milk, Sick in the Porridge..

April 4, 2014

Veronese at the National Gallery

This is basically a big collection of the most beautiful, huge paintings in which the characters fall to their knees, raise their arms imploringly, recoil in fear, awe, astonishment, gesture to each other in the most theatrical manner, watched by reverential servants, docile horses (huge) and other people and animals.  The colours: that washed-out Veronese blue; a much deeper blue that I associate with Titian; rose pink; cloaks in billowing orange; the pale green and grey of the Allegorical paintings, “Scorn”, “Unfaithfulness”, and the others; subtle, pale flesh tones of the putti.

The compositions are also stunning; for my money, the finest are “The Anointing of David” and “The Family of Darius before Alexander” (part of the permanent collection at the NG).

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The Anointing of David

veronese2

The Family of Darius before Alexander

There are, however, some weaknesses:  In the small painting, “The Conversion of Mary Magdalene”, Christ has a giant left hand and an appalling vanilla ice-cream halo.  Generally, his Christs are insipid and unconvincing, compared to the less exalted characters.  In fact, several of the paintings contain rather sketchily drawn faces, shown up by the excellent draughtsmanship elsewhere in the same pictures.

veronese mary magdalene

The Conversion of Mary Magdalene

(Halo doesn’t look too bad in this repro – believe me, it’s bad)

A few random things of note:

The line around the head of St.Helena in “The Dream of…”; it reminds me of the line around superimposed photo images in the work of Surrealists, Man Ray, for instance;

The snake-like ripple of muscles in the back of the assailant in “the Temptation of Saint Anthony Abbot”;

Terrible, insipid Christ in “The Supper at Emmaus”

The fantastic back in “Unfaithfulness”.

veronese unfaithfulness

George Orwell

Had to read DJ Taylor’s biography of the great man, which he has called “Orwell – The Life”, unlike Bernard Crick’s earlier one, which was only “A Life”.  There is a discrepancy between the two, regarding the memoir “Such, Such Were the Joys”, about St Cyprian’s, Orwell’s Sussex prep school;  this is the essay that Sam Leith described as a self-pitying “load of bollocks” in the Guardian recently.  According to Crick, Henry Longhurst, the golfer and writer, who was at the school at the same time as Orwell, was of the bollocks view (although he expressed it more moderately); he felt Orwell exaggerated and even lied about being beaten for bed-wetting.  He describes an incident in which he (Longhurst) was sick into a bowl of porridge and was then forced to eat it (he’s supposed to be defending the school! ).  Taylor, however, ascribes this account to Alec Waugh… Who is right?

Here’s Orwell in “Down and Out in Paris and London”, describing the little disasters that befall when you are broke: “you have spent your last eighty centimes on half a litre of milk, and are boiling it over the spirit lamp.  While it boils a bug runs down your forearm; you give the bug a flick with your nail, and it falls, plop! straight into the milk.  There is nothing for it but to throw the milk away and go foodless.”  No, George, you fish the bug out and use the milk.  I don’t think George, or Eric as he was at St.Cyprian’s, would have eaten the porridge.

Juste Avant la Nuit – Chabrol

Great old film from the 70s, in which an advertising exec murders a woman with whom he is having an SM affair.  He is tortured by guilt, confesses the crime to both his own wife AND the widower of his victim (a close friend) – and they both refuse to condemn him and say he shouldn’t confess.. Shades of Bunuel; the murderer’s wife is played by Stephane Audran, gleamingly beautiful and another reminder of Bunuel.

Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green

Went round this, saying “I had one of them!  Yeah, I remember that, we had one just like it!” BUT – there are no toy guns, except a couple of space guns.  When I was a kid in the 50s and 60s, I had loads of toy guns, that were pretty good facsimiles of the real thing; Colt .45s, a bolt action plastic rifle that fired plastic balls, a tommy gun, flintlock pistols in moulded plastic, an automatic that fired pellets.. also a toy crossbow, knives with retracting blades, rubber tomahawks.  I know these toys are now considered undesirable and dangerous, but surely they should be in the museum.  To omit them distorts history.

 

??????????

Work in (not very much) progress.

Blackpaint

4.04.14

 

 

Blackpaint 349 – Malevich, Stalin and Fred and Ginger again

July 6, 2012

Sorry, a day late publishing, owing to basic idleness.

Frank Bowling

Good to see an article in the Guardian on Bowling’s poured paintings at the Tate Britain.  I knew him only by the single flag painting in the “Migrations” exhibition, which is not at all typical of his work.  He tends more to a sort of abstract Expressionism and uses colours that remind me of John Hoyland – although he doesn’t mention knowing Hoyland; Hockney was one of his art school contemporaries.  I’m going to see the Tate thing again tomorrow.

Paul Jenkins

My Australian blogger/painter friend Paintlater posted an item about this US AbEx artist, again unknown to me, who has just died.  Fantastic, large canvases with swathes of paint unfurling across them, guided with a knife apparently.  A little like Morris Louis – the paint looks as if it has been hurled but it doesn’t spatter – a bit like huge silk scarves, although not in the one below, which is untypical, but nice.

Malevich

Been reading Boris Groys’ book “The Total Art of Stalinism”, which is a reading of the the Russian avant garde and it’s relationship with the Stalinist state and Socialist Realism.  Malevich’s famous Black Square of 1923 was, according to Groys, a “Ground Zero”, painted by M as a sort of barrier of nothingness designed to put an end to further proliferation of art movements in Russia, enabling the mobilisation of artists for the construction of a real, unitary “work of art” – the socialist state itself.  Groys sees this as the self-imposed task of the Russian avant garde.

Unfortunately for the AG, their formalism was not seen as useful by either Lenin or Stalin, who disengaged with the AG in favour of the proponents of Socialist Realism – which was handier for propaganda purposes.

I’d always thought of the Russian avant garde as vaguely libertarian and radical; radical they were -but libertarian, no.  Totalitarian, more like.

Groys’ book is about Soviet Russia (published in 1987), so it largely ignores the similarities (and differences) between Socialist Realism and Nazi and Fascist art.  An interesting book to be written there – no doubt, it already has been.

 

Critics

Barnett Newman famously said that the relationship of critics to artists was like that of ornithologists to the birds – the birds do, the ornis watch and interpret.

Seems to me that this is right – artists (Bacon, Pollock, de Kooning)are great on the processes of production but are often vague and reluctant to analyse deeply what they do – in case the magic goes away, presumably.  I think its for the artist to do and the critic to analyse; its a pity that some of the critics insist on mystifying the work by “reading” it in an arcane vocabulary that is spoken only by other critics.

Fred and Ginger

“Swingtime” has got to be the best; “Pick Yourself Up” is just an unbelievable joy, when Fred does that saunter – sudden kick thing, and later swings Ginger over the barrier.  But then there is “Never Gonna Dance”, a perfect little ballet quoting all the previous numbers.  Ginger’s back in that dress is the third great back in art history; Veronese’s “Unfaithfulness”, Kitaj’s wonderful drawing are the other two (see previous Blackpaints).

Some old ones to end-

 

Blackpaint

06.07.12

Blackpaint 337 – Orgreave, Iscariot and “The F-Word”

April 16, 2012

Jeremy Deller at the Hayward

Collection of his various projects in which he has played the role of interviewer or organiser or visionary – a term not too strong for the “Battle of Orgreave” re-enactment.  The exhibits include:

the flattened car from Iraq that was previously exhibited in the Imperial War Museum (see earlier Blackpaints) and was toured through the States;

Adrian Street, the “flamboyant” Welsh wrestler, his costumes, fights on video and struggles with machismo in the Valleys;

Deller’s “Open Bedroom”, with jokes copied from the walls of the British Library toilets;

The reproduction of Valerie’s Snack Bar, open and functioning, in which the customers looked like living sculpture exhibits the day I went.  Maybe they were particularly theatrically clothed (very arty crowd that day) – or maybe that’s always the effect.

Overshadowing, or maybe drowning out everything else. however, was the Orgreave video and photos that went with it.  Somehow, he got redundant miners who were there, together with military re-enactment groups and at least one policeman, interviewed on film, to reconstruct the “battle” – more a mounted assault, really – and won the 2004 Turner Prize with the filmed record.  Staggeringly realistic and powerful to those who remember the events, now back in the news, linked to the Hillsborough disaster.  The South Yorkshire force was responsible for order on both occasions and lawyers for the families of the Hillsborough dead allege similar tactics of lying and cover-up.

The film of Thatcher at the end, in tight-lipped, glaring, defiant mode brought back vividly her stance at the time; black and white, all or nothing, strikers were the “enemy within”.  She clearly knew nothing about, and cared nothing for the mining communities involved in the strike and this was her great asset – “Ignorance is Strength” (1984, Orwell).

David Shrigley (also at Hayward)

The Orgreave exhibit totally wiped out the David Shrigley exhibition for me – couldn’t be bothered with the little jokes, cartoons, insects with cannons, stuffed dogs…  Very unfair, of course; the leisure centre made me laugh out loud and so did a couple of other things, but the miners’ strike sucks the emotional oxygen out of the surroundings every time for me.

Damien Hirst

On TV Friday night, I glimpsed a shot of a young Hirst in front of his first dot painting, (the one that had run), hung or maybe painted direct onto a scabby, disintegrating, white tiled wall (shades of Deep End).  It looked great and revealed to me what was missing from his show – textural grime. 

Sounds odd, considering the rotting cow’s head, the blood, the massed dead flies, the stink, the disgusting fluid streaks down the walls in the butterfly room… but yet, it’s all too cleanly encased and clinical and glassed in.  Even the huge, black, circular cake of dead flies was neat and tidy.  For some reason, everything looks more exciting to me when it’s half-destroyed – for instance, those giant imitation stained glass windows, made from butterfly wings; destroy the pattern, leave it intact only here and there, bring a bit of entropy in – I think it would look better, might say more.  Then again, he’s the millionaire (billionaire?)…

Incidentally, on the same programme  (the Review Show, BBC2), the presenter Martha Kearney was clearly uncomfortable when one of the reviewers used the word “farking” , quoting Irvine Welsh’s take on how the English say “fucking” – she also panicked when another guest referred to some incident in Welsh’s new book; it was clearly deemed not fit to be repeated.  This is on a cultural review on BBC2, going out after 11.00pm.  Nursery school?  I hate all the bleeping you get on TV and especially the use of the formulation “The C-word”, “The F-word” and “The N-word”.

Kings Place – “Abstract Critical – Newcomer Awards”

Five lovely canvases by Iain Robertson, white base, faux-clumsy, slapdash figures, sweeps, circles, triangles, crosses in glowing, burning colours – a lot of Gillian Ayres, more than a touch of Albert Irvin, CoBrA peering through…

A couple of huge (and hugely priced) colourful, feathery swatches and tangles like Albert Oehlen by Gary Wragg. both entitled “Rue Gambetta”, one of them a cool 40 grand.

These were the selectors, however – of the selectees, it was Dan Roach’s pictures in oil and wax on paper that stood out, recalling Clough and Ian McKeever, somewhat.

National Gallery

Some random observations:

Only the Constable sketches look good to me – the wagons and little boys and rainbows spoil the finished paintings.

Guido Reni – “Europa”; what a duff painting.  The bull is terrible and so is the cherub.

The Veronese “back” in “Unfaithfulness” – fantastic.  Also Veronese – the size of that horse in the right of the picture of Alexander!  Maybe it’s on a step?  Also the big heads on the left and the “ghosts” wafting about in the centre.

The Titian Vendramins – the figure on the left has a head just like a French soldier at the time of the Dreyfus case.

The Campin Virgin with the improbably long, straight nose and the Van der Weyden Virgin – those fabric folds!

The Duccio pinks and the Giotto Pentecost legs, like spindly insect legs under the square bodies.

A grey-bodied Jesus as the Man of Sorrows, with massive chest and shoulders like a body builder.

Tree of Man and Pasolini

I was a bit hard on this the other day – called the beginning and the end “crap”.  Not so – it was the air of religiosity that I found unbearable, all that holy, churchy choir stuff and white floating linenLast weekend, I watched “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” by Pasolini – that’s the way to do religion on soundtrack; Bach, Blind Willie Johnson, Congo Mass; and the faces, particularly the young and old Marys and Judas Iscariot (Pasolini look-alike?), and the angry, intense, studenty Jesus.

Work in Progress (I know – too much brown).

Blackpaint

16/04/12

Blackpaint 213

October 30, 2010

National Gallery

I had to go up to see Clive Head’s pictures, currently getting record crowds.  They are hyper real, like huge photographs – a tube exit at Victoria, street scenes in Kensington, I think – one, a coffee shop, shows Bouji’s night club in the background.  Fantastic job; you have to get pretty close to see they are paintings, not photographs.  I thought they had been done from photos – the angles look photographic – but according to the blurb, does loads of drawings, takes loads of photos and draws freehand from a combination of photos, so they are more than just a photographic repro in paint.

I looked very closely for some time, and couldn’t distinguish any way in which they differed from such a repro, however; at first, I thought it was the depth of focus, but this can be achieved by photographic means and the store signs do blur in the distance, sure enough.

I checked out the Raphaels, of course, and noticed the tight, pursed little mouths that most of his women have, for example the Mond Crucifixion (love the sun and moon); but also the two Madonnas, the Pinks and the Garvagh.  His men don’t have the mouth thing – pope Julius has a sour, pulled in straight line of an old man’s mouth.

I’d forgotten about the two beautiful, highly-coloured, little predella paintings, of the Procession to Calvary and the Sermon on the Mount; the first looks like something from the Canterbury Tales, somehow (apart from Christ, of course).  There’s a great tension in it, created by Christ pulling back under the weight of the cross and the man leaning forward, dragging on the rope.

Cranach the Elder

That naked Venus, ignoring the complaining Cupid; she’s got a clean, lean body like a modern-day teenage model.

Garofalo

My notes appear to read “fungus on maple”, but I now realise it’s “fingers on nipple”.  It’s that picture of the two couples and the man on the right is caressing the woman’s nipple; move the children on quickly.  In the background, a lizard descends the tree behind them and further back, a goat is trying to mount a bank – presumably a comment on the foreground action.

Veronese 

“Unfaithfulness” – one of the great back and shoulders in art; reminded of that Gauguin drawing, something about pigs (see recent blog on Gauguin).

Michelangelo

There are two Ms, both unfinished – the Entombment and the Manchester Madonna.  Neither of them bear much resemblance to the Sistine stuff; the faces and poses are very different, although the muscularity of the bodies under their silky clothes is characteristic.

Diebenkorn and Terry Frost

I was surprised to find similar figures appearing in the works of these two – particularly chevrons.  Frost liked heraldic devices, Diebenkorn playing cards.

Bloody Wakefield by Blackpaint

30.10.10