Posts Tagged ‘Winifred Nicholson’

Blackpaint 681 – Ena and Betty, Kim and Solomon – and Obscurities

November 6, 2020

Singer Sargent – The Masterworks by Stephanie L Herdrich (Rizzoli/Electra)

Finally, someone has bought me this great book on Singer Sargent, a painter who I revere, although many think him rather sentimental and chocolate box-y (David Bailey, for example).  Three of my favourites below:

Portrait of Edouard and Marie-Louise Pailleron (1891)

Herdrich thinks the girl’s portrait obscures that of the boy and that her right fist is clenched in tension.  I have to disagree on both counts, although the text generally is clear, informative and free from the higher bullshit that often mars writing on art.

 

Lady Agnew of Lochnaw (1892)

What used to be called (outrageously no doubt) a “come hither” expression….

 

Ena and Betty, Daughters of Asher and Mrs. Wertheimer (1901)

He loves enormous jars.  Betty’s (?) white dress, just a few white streaks on brown and grey, painted at high speed, no doubt – perfect.

! Kings 2, King James Bible

I’ve just got to the death of David and the succession – not unchallenged – of his son Solomon;  it’s the end of The Godfather 1, when Michael settles all family business;  Shimei, Joab and Adonijah are all killed on Solomon’s orders; they’re the equivalent of Tessio, Carlo and the others.  This is not a surprise, since the story up to now has been one of Yahweh or Jehovah directing the Israelites to obey his every command and slaughter thousands of non-believers – Hivites, Jebusites, Philistines and the rest – and colonise their territories.  But the Israelites are a stiff-necked people and keep backsliding. making golden calves, disobeying puzzling, absolutist commandments and being slaughtered for disobedience themselves, by plagues, bolts of fire, sudden holes opening to swallow them, and so on.

Circles and Squares, Caroline Maclean (Bloomsbury)

The astonishing love lives of Barbara Hepworth, Ben and Winifred Nicholson,, among others; The women seem to have allowed the men to develop affairs and father children on other women, with whom they formed friendships and shared the males, more or less willingly.  Nicholson, looking manly and tempting in his beret in the picture above, spent time shuttling between Winifred, his wife and her children and Barbara Hepworth, the mother of  triplets by Nicholson..  It’s difficult for me to square this with the idea of women being oppressed by a “patriarchy” – these women acquiesced in, if not actually encouraged their “exploitation”.  Maclean’s narrative is, so far, entirely without moral judgement, and the better for it.  You can detect, I think, an irony in this forbearance – but maybe I’m wrong.

The other thing is that they seem to be moving from one address to another, sometimes just across the road or round the corner, AII the time…

Philby

An astounding book by Ben Macintyre.  Philby was recruited into the intelligence service purely on the strength of his family – his father had been at Eton(?) with the recruiter and he was therefore regarded as sound.  In fact, he was a committed communist and had already been recruited by soviet intelligence in the early 30s.  The quality of the intelligence he passed to the Russians was so high that the Russians were suspicious – they thought he was a double agent (that is, really working for the British) or maybe being fed false information.

In Istanbul, during WW2, there were so many spies, of so many nations, and they were so well known that, when one entered the favourite spy’s nightspot, the band would strike up a popular song of the time – “Boo boo baby, I’m a spy”.  Only 100 pages in.  It’s nearly as good as his later book about the defection, or rescue by British agents, of Oleg Gordievsky.

Obscured Series

Some life drawings and paintings I have been revamping lately:

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint

6th November 2020

 

 

Blackpaint 347 – Bowling, Nicholson, Chelsea and Quinn

June 21, 2012

Tate Britain

Some “new” stuff, worth a look:

Howard Hodgkin, deep resonant green and white, more clear-cut than his usual brushwork.

Catherine Yass video, replacing the Wallinger’s airport hall; this one, of a tightrope walker, startng the transit between two tower blocks in Glasgow, the Red Road site, I think.  He gets about halfway, and then retreats backwards, the winds being too strong.  Sweating palms and clenched sphincter job, for me anyway.  Not sure what the Yass output was; most of it was taken from tightrope walker’s helmet camera.  Wallinger’s was in slo-mo, with added music – don’t think there was music for this one and normal speed…

As part of the Patrick Keiller exhibit, that striking Gursky photograph of the winding black and white roadways, entitled “Bahrain” (very similar to Burtynsky‘s work at the Photographer’s Gallery, technically anyway).

Karla Black, a whole room’s worth of exhibit, huge,long, loose, crumply roll of – wallpaper? with flattened “plates” of pastel powder, each of different colour, poured and compacted along its length.

Next door, fleshy, beige-grey, snail-like coils on individual stands, by Sarah Lucas; a huge, emerald green Tillmans photograph, with the black inky threads trailing and swirling like hair under water; and a couple of Calum Innes works, one blue and yellow game of two halves, the other, black or dark, with Clyfford Still-like “tears” running down.

Elsewhere, a lovely geometric abstract with a rough, yellow/green surface by Winifred Nicholson, called “moonlight and Lamplight” from 1937.

The most striking thing for me there at the moment is the roomful of Frank Bowling’s poured acrylic paintings; blistering, bright colours, reminiscent of John Hoyland (indeed, several of Bowling’s paintings on net are very like Hoyland’s – or vice versa).

Chelsea Degree Show

Opposite the Tate, some seriously good work on show, and the catalogue only £2; there is a white room complex on the ground floor that is particularly good; square arches giving a series of partial views through.  Two big paintings in Popart style, one yellow with bathing suits hanging on a line, the other sort of lilac or mulberry pinky, motif like a frame, I think.  In next space, through an arch, patches of fabric stuck onto canvases in such a way that they overlap the walls.  Through another arch, a sort of campsite scenario set up, with a little camp stove with an orange paper(?) flame twisting and “burning”.  Individually, not so impressive maybe, but seen as a collective piece spreading over the several white spaces, very pleasing.

Also, a number of wall plaques, I suppose you could call them, composed of slatches of pigment of Bram Bogart thickness, with fragments of paper, card or fabric “splatted” onto them, as if stamped into the vivid and various paints with a rubber sole. 

La Strada

Watched this again, and found  Giuletta Masina’s Chaplinesque mugging very irritating.  The relentless comic pathos, determined brutishness of Anthony Quinn and the circus background disguise the harsh essentials of the story – sister dead, sold to a thug for 10.000 lire, beaten, raped (?), humiliated, the murder of the acrobat – it’s not a comedy.  Anthony Quinn is the anti- George Clooney.. or Cary Grant, to get the era right.  Interesting to see the influence of the film; that religious procession was in the Godfather II, surely, and maybe Le Quattro Volte.

Blackpaint

21.06.12