Posts Tagged ‘Visconti’

Blackpaint 599 – A Drink with Bacchus and a Sausage with Goebbels

June 13, 2017

Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

Vast hoard of treasures here, so can just give a few examples:  Las Meninas (the Maidservants, below) with its complicated geography – painter on the left, looking towards posing royal couple (reflected in the mirror).  Having read Derrida, I feel I can give my own reading of the painting, totally unsupported by the known facts:  for me, it’s one of those paintings where two or more time zones exist simultaneously – like those Crucifixions where the journey to Golgotha, the crucifixion and the deposition, and maybe Judas’ suicide, are all on show.   So in my reading, Velasquez, having completed the painting, turns in the doorway to glance back at his earlier self, still engaged in the work.  The guide book identifies the figure in the doorway to be Jose Nieto, the royal chamberlain – but I prefer my reading.

Las Meninas, Velasquez

 

The Feast of Bacchus, Velasquez

I don’t know why, but this painting reminds me of Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus.  It gives me the impression that Bacchus and the grinning man next to him are travelling, seated, towards us, despite the presence of the kneeling man, who would be ploughed under, were this the case.  There is something about that arm, too…

I don’t quite have a settled view on El Greco; sometimes I think that his elongated figures thrusting up like flames are fantastic and precursors of artists like Kirchner (yes, fanciful…) – other times, the crowdedness and somehow dry surfaces turn me off.

 

The Holy Trinity, El Greco

 

The Annunciation, El Greco

As for Goya, there are some wondrous canvases such as the 2nd and 3rd May 1808 paintings (the Mamelukes and the Executions), the Black Paintings of course, and the Royal portraits.  There are also some terrible paintings – a Flight into Egypt comes to mind.  I think religious themes didn’t inspire him.  A couple of portraits, then:

The Marchioness of Santa Cruz, Goya

 

The Countess of Chinchon, Goya

More on the Prado next time – I’ve barely scratched the surface.

Dance of the Seven Veils, Ken Russell Omnibus (1970) – see it on youtube

Another brilliant example of Russell’s restraint and good taste: Richard Strauss (Christopher Gable) as a Nazi fellow traveller, reaping the rewards under Hitler and pleading coercion after the Downfall.  It begins with Gable, dressed in animal skins, conducting Zarathustra and soon being ravished by crazed nuns.  Later, his wife is raped by crazed Tommies (fantasy sequence, I should point out, as is the nun bit) again, whilst Strauss conducts.  Above, Mrs. Strauss and Goebbels share a German foodstuff…

Ossessione, Visconti (1943)

Visconti’s version of “The Postman Always Rings Twice”.  Gino the tramp shows up at Giovanna’s garage and roadhouse and sweeps her off her feet – although not onto the kitchen table, as in the Jack Nicholson/ Jessica Lange version directed by Bob Rafelson in 1981.  What to do about Giovanna’s fat, much older husband, however?  Lots of smouldering and some excellent dialogue: (Giovanna to Gino, who has removed his jacket) “Your shoulders – why, you’re built like a stallion!”

 

Rift Valley

Blackpaint

12/06/17

 

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Blackpaint 536 – Newbolt, Soutine, the Leopard and the Greek

March 14, 2016

Thomas Newbolt at Kings Place

Thomas-Newbolt---Figure-IV-,-2015_248w

 

A series of solitary young women,  lost look in their eyes (or asleep as above), in glamorous dresses,  perched on a sofa; and small portraits of women’s faces, some cropped to show only some features.  The paint is thickly sliced on with a palette knife and is thickly textured in an almost Auerbachian manner.  I think there are one or two male heads out of twenty(?) or so.  My friend suggested a resemblance to the portraits of Soutine, which seemed to me exactly right.  I enjoyed the paintings greatly, even though several were obscured by the screens of a corporate event that was taking place.

Soutine

Having mentioned this great and influential artist – Bacon and de Kooning, among several others, were influenced by him – I’ll put up some of his works; wild. expressionist townscapes, the portraits that Newbolt’s paintings faintly resemble and a side of beef, if I can find one:

soutine 2

soutine selfie

Soutine self-portrait

soutine1

That path looks like a salamander holding a pine tree…

 

beef

Mm – Tasty!

 

soutine skate

Here’s a Soutine Ray, to compare with Ensor’s Skate

Why is there no Taschen of Soutine, or any reasonably cheap book of his paintings?  A question I have asked before in this blog; but, despite its wide readership and undoubted influence, no reply has yet been forthcoming.

The Leopard, Visconti (1963)

the leopard 1

Burt Lancaster’s superb performance as the Sicilian prince, facing up to social and political change, his own mortality and that of his caste and values.  The operatic battle scenes, the insufferable nephew Tancredi (played by Alain Delon), the sweaty, shifty, worldly priest (Romano Valli – later, the fussy hotelier in Visconti’s “Death in Venice”, and brilliant in that too) – but above all, the ball  and that waltz with Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale, prefiguring, perhaps, the ball scene in Sokurov’s “Russian Ark”.

leopard 2

Well, no, not above all; there is a scene after the dance in which the ailing prince, looking for somewhere to rest, comes upon a huge room filled with the used chamber pots of the ball guests…

The Renaissance Unchained (BBC4)

I liked this series, especially Waldemar Januszczak’s exploration of Van Eyck and other so-called “Flemish Primitives” such as Memling, which showed up the absurdity of such a term for these brilliant draftsmen of fiendish detail with their clear, cold, deep colours.  I thought he had something when he referred to Michelangelo’s “Opal Fruit colours” in the Sistine Chapel (not the blues and browns though!); I’d also never noticed before the similarity between El Greco’s naked, elongated bodies in “the Opening of the Fifth Seal” and those of Picasso’s “Demoiselles d’Avignon”.  Apparently, this has been known since the 80s.  Here’s the El Greco, but I can’t find a decent photo of the Picasso, oddly.  Still, it’s a well enough known image…

fifth seal

I used to think El Greco’s paintings were OK, but sort of stuffy and boring in a dark, heavy, religious, Spanish way (despite coming from Crete); now I like them – but not that shimmery thing he has, see above.  No doubt, next week, I’ll think different.  A couple of life drawing exercises and an old painting of mine to finish:

 

cropping 1

Cropping 1

 

cropping 2

Cropping 2

 

green fuse

Green Fuse

Blackpaint

14.3.16

 

Blackpaint 358 – Bach, Charcoal, Chalk and Tracer

September 13, 2012

As Promised:

Top 10 uses of music in films (excluding musicals – to come later):

1.  The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Pasolini) – Blind Willie Johnson, Missa Luba and the last movement of the Matthew Passion; no contest for no.1, I think –

UNLESS it is 2.  Satantango (Bela Tarr) – that sobbing, throbbing accordion across the darkening plain;

3. 2001 (Kubrick) – Also Sprach Zarathustra, as awareness glimmers in the hominid’s eye, and he begins crushing the skull with the bone (could also have the jazz crooner over the still of Nicholson at the end of The Shining, or Beethoven’s 9th in The Clockwork Orange);

4.  Any Fellini film with Nino Rota music, but especially La Strada and the parade music at the end of 81/2 (eight and a half – don’t know how to do halves on laptop) – also the Godfather, of course;

5.  Russian Ark (Sokurov) – the Glinka mazurka;

6.  Death in Venice (Visconti) – the Mahler, 5th I think, when he decides to return to the hotel and is smirking to himself in the gondola;

7.  Performance (Roeg) – Sympathy with the Devil sequence;

8.  The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy) – naked Britt slapping the wall, driving poor Edward crazy and singing that gauche “folk” song; also the Summerisle population doing Sumer is a-coming in while Edward is roaring out his defiant Prot hymn as the flames climb higher….

9.  Fitzcarraldo (Herzog) – Caruso belting out of the gramophone on the boat, into the Amazon jungle; Kinsky with his cigar clenched in his teeth, serenaded by the chorus of I Puritani, as the boat sails back into Iquitos;

10.  Gallipoli (Peter Weir) – another boat, this time the troopship – the abrupt shift from patriotic song to Albinoni, as the ship glides in to the embattled beach, shells and tracer sailing overhead in the night sky…

Albert Irvin

I’ve bought a book of his stunning prints and was pleased to read that he thinks his flying experience contributes to his work.  He was a navigator and rear gunner in RAF  Bomber Command during the war and says that the awareness of motion and speed feeds in – I’d thought that some of the marks he makes resemble bomb bursts and tracer bullets, as well as the general coloration of the pieces – but no doubt that’s pushing it too far.

Kings Place, Sculptors’ Drawings

A huge, fantastic and free exhibition, with some brilliant drawings.  I especially liked Michael Kenney’s for the way he drives chalk marks into the charcoal, Alison Wilding’s lovely, messy ink storm, the beautiful head by Glyn Williams and Anthony Caro’s great nude – look at that right knee!

P:atrick Kieller at the Tate B (Robinson exhibit)

There’s a Kieller photograph of a gate below Graham Sutherland’s “Entrance to a Lane”; the deep, louring, black/blue of the sky is stunning and it looks just like a little painting.  Also at the Tate, I noticed for the first time how Lanyon’s “Porthleven” has been positioned with the Reg Butler insect woman and the Graham Sutherland biomorphic shapes to its left; all three pieces echoing each other visually.

Figure drawing

Bray Dunes

Blackpaint

12/09/12

Blackpaint 321 – Yorkshire, Blackburn and the Leopard

January 23, 2012

Hockney at the RA

The weekend papers full of hype for this – Roy Hattersley droning on about Yorkshire, bringing in Captain Cook and other irrelevancies, interviews with bussed-down Yorkshire painters groups, Yorkshire tourist board planning Hockney tours…  More about Hockney’s “superlative” drawing skills,” richness and exuberance” of the colours.  I have to say that none of the repros I have seen particularly demonstrate Hockney’s (undoubted) drawing skills and some of the green, orange and Ribena colours look like no colours I have seen in “real life”, in Yorkshire or anywhere else.  An artist called Jim Bruce – not a Yorkshireman – tellingly referred to Hockney’s landscapes as “abstract”, while enthusing about them to an interviewer.  Laura Cumming in the Observer says “He is not primarily interested in the ever-changing rhetoric of weather, light or nature.  He is thinking about picture making..”   She refers to the colours as “Matisse crossed with Walt Disney” and I persist in being reminded of the animated Lord of the Rings.

The size of the paintings must contribute to the feeling of “Event”; I touched on the previous display of Hockney big trees at the Tate Britain when writing about John Martin’s spectaculars recently.  Interestingly, with regard to hype, I see that the Leonardo exhibition is described as “overpraised” in today’s Guardian.  Don’t think any critics had the nerve to say that when it opened.

Having said all that, the Hockneys are definitely distinctive; you couldn’t mistake the pictures for anyone else’s work and that’s something to prize, for sure.

London Art Fair

Acquired tickets for this, which normally cost £18 entrance fee, expecting a lot of dross; instead, saw the best British painting I have seen all year.  Admittedly, most of it was  St. Ives or other oldies, but that’s the rut I’m stuck in.  My partner tells me that the recession is leading collectors to sell off some good stuff, but I’m unconvinced; lots of cash around at the top end, I think.  Anyway, some lovely, brilliantly coloured Anthony Frosts (Terry’s son), loads of Alan Davie, including a great one on thick brown wrapping paper, Roger Hilton poster paints and others from earlier, loads of little Sutherlands, Keith Vaughans and great early Sandra Blows, when she was using sand and suchlike.  Several Ivon Hitchens, Prunella Clough, and a totally uncharacteristic Patrick Heron, that was bright little colours on a black base.  The best pictures were as follows:

Peter Lanyon, large oblong panel, with unusual, intense orange -red section and an almost grafitti feel to it; 

John Blackburn, new to me, but born 1932; beautiful white and blue panels on an upright rectangle, tucked away at back, very like Paul Feiler;

Paul Feiler (born 1918, Britain’s greatest living abstract painter), white and off-white square with red and blue broken and concealed lines breaking surface here and there; 

Adrian Heath, who taught Terry Frost in POW camp, Poliakoff-like geometric shapes in various colours, resembling collage;

Robin Denny, a big, wild, dark blue Ab Ex effort, so fantastic I stepped back carelessly for a better look, straight into a gent who was also gazing at it.  On the way home, we saw his (Denny’s) coloured rods design on Embankment tube – hard to believe same bloke did both.

Also in Embankment station, a besuited Peter Blake, several of whose works were on show at the Angel.

Three other painters whose work I liked were Mark Surridge, little Lanyon-y panels; Rebecca Salter, gauzey, gossamer surfaces to her canvases,; and Chloe Lamb, whose abstracts, often in variations of ochre, I loved, but thought the paint could have been slapped on more thickly.  There is another Chloe Lamb, featuring on Google.

The Leopard, Visconti

Made in 1963, just seen the DVD.  Sicily in Garibaldi’s time, eras ending, the stately old aristos intermarrying with the new bourgeoisie – Burt Lancaster surprisingly perfect, once you get used to the dubbed voice; another sumptuous, hypnotic ball to go with the one in Russian Ark; those quirky mazurkas.  And Romolo Valli, the hotel manager in Death in Venice, here a sycophant priest.  And music by Nino Rota.

Old one, I’m afraid; batteries in my camera gone.

Blackpaint

23/01/12