Category Archives: Painting

ART HISTORY 101

The Art History tutor at our Further Education college is absolutely  brilliant. I reckon he could make a lecture on any subject fascinating, whether on the depiction of pigs’ tails or of pigtails. I even persuaded my son-in-law, who lives in the Basque Country, to sign up for my present course ‘The power and influence of German Art from Early Medieval to Early Modern and Beyond’ – one of the of the benefits of the Internet and Zoom.

The course begins in Medieval times. Being Jewish, I don’t recognise all of the symbols of the many Christian saints and I find the images of jeering Jews with long noses by the Cross offensive. After all, Jesus’s family was Jewish as were His first disciples. But I can appreciate the anguish portrayed and the beauty and brilliant colour of the images.

From the time of the Reformation and the destruction of art works in Protestant churches, non-religious, non-history paintings found a ready market. From then on, the art works become more to my taste, though I can appreciate the mythical works painted during the Renaissance.

Still, for me, classes are just not the same on Zoom – sitting in my living room in a carefully ironed shirt, but wearing slippers and pyjama bottoms. Our tutor’s in-person Art History classes were always full, and I miss the buzz of conversation as we students caught up with each other, the hush as he began and our occasional giggles. I even miss the indifferent coffee in the canteen at our coffee break, as well as the wicked pain au raisin I could never resist.

I’ve downloaded ‘Smartify’  and ‘ArtPassport’ and I’ve bookmarked several other sites. I have also saved a load of emails about current exhibitions. They’re great, but I so miss visiting art galleries in person.

Now that Josh and I have been vaccinated, it is safer for us to go to art galleries wearing our N95 masks and keeping our distance, but of course just now they are all closed. Maybe by the Spring??

And thanks to all you lovely people who wrote to say you enjoyed reading my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’. There’s something very special about hearing that I’ve given pleasure with something I’ve written.

Woman in a White Coat

Read more of Abby’s stories in her memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ and her previous posts Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site and get a taster for free.

Woman in a White Coat’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version on Amazon and £9.99 in paperback.

TATE BRITAIN WILL OPEN ON JULY 27th

Tate Britain on Millbank, London

‘THANK YOU KEYWORKERS’ and ‘SEE YOU ALL SOON’ banners have been put up, with the small white ‘TATE BRITAIN IS CLOSED’ board by the front door ready to be removed. The black and white banner advertising the Beardsley exhibition is on the right.

It’s great that London art galleries are starting to open, though I’m not sure we’ll be brave enough to visit them and risk there being large crowds, even if the galleries themselves are set up to regard social distancing.

As well as Steve McQueen Year 3, described as one of the most ambitious portraits of children ever undertaken in the UK, Tate Britain will continue to show the Aubrey Beardsley exhibition which opened on March 4th. Then lockdown was imposed and the gallery closed on March 17th. However, on March 30th BBC4 showed an excellent program by Mark Gatiss about Beardsley, still available on iPlayer.

I knew Aubrey Beardsley’s work from his illustrations of Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books. I can visualise the tall bookcases in the children’s section of Whitechapel Library where his books lived. I was always small for my age and had to get a librarian to hand me one down. I assume the publisher didn’t use any of his more risqué drawings, but while they were a bit frightening, I loved them.

Since Tate Britain closed, we have been going there for our Sunday walks. It is always very peaceful – the occasional jogger, a few couples with a baby in a pushchair and a little Chinese grandfather we meet every week. He leads his toddler grandson up the stairs, round the side and down again; gives us a quick smile and walks on.

Our younger son has cycled over to meet us on a couple of Sundays. When I was taking a series of Art History classes in galleries, I bought a folding stool which was much lighter than those provided by the galleries. We took it with us so we could sit on the bench at the side of the stairs and Bernard could sit on the stool the required 2m away.

After July 27th we’ll have to change where we take our weekly exercise. Hopefully, the gallery will be very busy and it might be difficult for us to keep our distance outside.

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat

 

OLD DOGS AND NEW TRICKS

CityLit’s new entrance

Yes, we can learn new tricks!! I didn’t think that at age 88 Social Media were my thing but I’ve written nearly 70 posts on Facebook since last August and I regularly Zoom with the children and my Writing Circle.

Last week I started an online course at CityLit – ‘Extended History of Modern Art in 50 Works’ with an excellent young women tutor, Sarah Jaffray. There are 14 of us in the class – 10 women and 4 men. This is an unusual mix. Most Further Education classes I’ve been to have had 2 or 3 men to 25 or even 30 women. I think women generally are more likely to want to take up something new when we retire and we’re not too worried about showing our ignorance of a new subject or ‘losing face.’ Maybe that’s why we’re supposed to live longer than men after retirement.

I wonder when I will go through CityLit’s doors again. As an elderly, vulnerable, person I’ve been self-isolated for 10 weeks. Who know how many more?

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99 http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat

‘PICASSO ON PAPER’ AT THE ROYAL ACADEMY UNTIL APRIL 13th

‘Les Femmes d’Alger’ after Delacroix (Oil on canvas 1955)

I remember when after WW2 ended, we first saw Picasso’s Cubist portraits with noses and eyes going every which way.

‘My two-year old could do better than that,’ was a common response at the time.

We hadn’t released that his was an intentional interpretation of reality and not lack of ability.

I retired at 60, but Josh went on working until he was 65, so I took some short trips on my own to visit Louise and her family in San Sebastian. On one of them, she and Mark took me to the rebuilt town of Guernica, where there was an exhibition about Picasso’s painting ‘Guernica’, in memory of the bombing by Nazi warplanes at the beginning of the Spanish civil war. Not until after the death of the fascist dictator, Franco, did Picasso allow his original painting to come back to Spain. It is now housed permanently in the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid.

There was a large reproduction of ‘Guernica’, and on either side copies of Picasso’s working drawings. That’s when I realised for the first time what an incredible draftsman he was. There were drawings of feet and heads – and of course his beloved bulls – all drawn in exquisite detail, before being converted into the distorted figures of his final work.

The present exhibition of Picasso’s work at the Royal Academy ‘Picasso on Paper’ is huge. There are works from all of his various periods. As well as his works on and with paper, there are a few oil paintings, sculptures and three dimensional collages. A veritable feast that needs more than one visit.

It was with great relief that we discovered the little bistro-type café set up at the back of the Royal Academy shop, complete with paper tablecloths and coloured pencils so you can imitate Picasso’s habit of drawing on anything and everything. And good strong coffee and crispy croissants.

It’s a must if you can visit London.

On Sunday February 9th on BBC4 you can watch at 9pm ‘The Many Faces of Picasso’ and at 10pm ‘Picasso’s Last Stand.’ Or on iPlayer

I thank all the lovely people who wrote and commented on my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat.’

‘Woman in White Coat – the memoir of girl growing up the East End making good.

Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99 http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Fantastic Frank Bowling at Tate Britain, London

Traingone (Mahaicony Abary, Guyana)
1996

I hadn’t heard of Frank Bowling  until I saw the program ‘What do artists do all day‘ on BBC which featured him and his work.

The big queues at Tate Britain at the moment  are for Van Gogh in Britain  but upstairs you can find Frank Bowling’s exciting exhibition.

I quite liked his earlier more representational art, but it is his  heavily textured abstract paintings that are so amazing. As you gaze at them you are drawn into some faraway place.

Art exhibitions always tempt me to take up drawing and painting again but what with Classical Greek, the Piano  and Writing the sequel ’25 Houses’ to my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’   I just haven’t found the time.

Perhaps next week!!

Dorothy Tanning Tate Modern London

One of Tanning’s Surrealist paintings

Dorothy Tanning ‘s Surrealist paintings (1910-2012) are very reminiscent of those of one of my favourite painters, Leonora Carrington (1917-2011), her contemporary and also a lover of Max Ernst (1891- 1976), a Dadaist and Surrealist who had left his wife for Dorothy Tanning.

Although I liked several of her surrealist paintings, I much preferred her later paintings, many from her stay at Sedonia, Arizona with Max Ernst – her abstracted ‘prismatic’ style. She wanted her pictures discovered slowly – ‘pictures that would shimmer and that you would discover something new every time you looked at them.’

Avalon (1987). begun in 1984

One of my favourites is ‘Avalon’ – painted over 3 years from 1984-1987 . It  is typical of her abstracted paintings, with parts of bodies and objects emerging from flower-like bursts of white and green.

I found her soft sculptures interesting though not particularly moving. The video at the end of the exhibition is excellent. Highly recommended.

Every time I go to an exhibition I think about taking up painting again – one of the many classes I took at Morley College and CityLit after I retired.

Read about my adventures at Further Education colleges in my memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat.’

Buy Woman in a White Coat on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

 

The EY Exhibition Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy; Tate Modern London

An incredible exhibition of works carried out by Picasso in only one year – 1932.  Great to exhibit so many paintings I’ve never seen before and, for once, with labels large enough to read with ease.

Hard to believe one man could produce this much work in one year though much of the colour is in flat sheets. A  film of Picasso painting on glass showed just how quickly he could draw. However, I would defy him to produce this number of paintings in the styled of Las Meninas by Velasquez that he admired and of which he painted simplified derivative images.

A few sculptures and examples of his ceramics as well as images of his ‘castle’ in France.

Tate Modern has done it again!!

Woman in a White Coat still doing well. many thanks to my readers.

Rhythm and Reaction. The Age of Jazz in Britain at 2 Temple Place London, WC2R 3BD

At 2 Temple Place

I’m not really into jazz, Classical music is more my style, but I love going to 2 Temple Place, a fine house in a crescent off the Victoria Embankment. And the café is good too!!

The exhibition has been curated by Catherine Tackley, Professor and Head of Music at the University of Liverpool. It sets out to tell the story of the jazz age in new ways, focussing on British depictions of jazz. It helps us to understand what the music meant to artists, to assess the image of jazz in the public sphere and to see how jazz was encountered in everyday, domestic environments.

Rather to our surprise, we both loved the exhibition which was more about the bands and soloists and about the 1920s. And there wasn’t excessively loud jazz playing in the several exhibition rooms. There were displays and information about the 1920s ubiquitous banjos and a display of drums with contemporary film clips running behind them. Amazing to see musicians playing jazz while performing aerial stunts

What about Health and Safety??
Several different combos were on show

 

 

 

 

 

As it’s half-term week this week, there was an event for children event upstairs. A  large throw spread on the floor and delightful toddlers dancing on it to jazz music. Made me feel quite broody!!

Thank you all for coming to my talk at Victoria library on my memoir Woman in a White Coat.

 

Dan Colen’s ‘Sweet Liberty’ at Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery, London

Dan Colen at the Newport Street Gallery

Another fun exhibition – Dan Colen’s ‘Sweet Liberty’ –  at Damien Hirst’s spacious Newport Street Gallery has now  been extended until January 28th.

Note: There seem to be road works everywhere in Westminster so if you’re driving be persistent – there is a way through!!

Colen examines notions of identity and individuality, set against a portrait of contemporary America.

Haiku (2015-17)

His works are said to be read as self-portraits. Colen (born 1979 in New Jersey) must have been feeling quite down when he made this big sad Scooby Doo (Haiku 2015-17).

There are a variety of fascinating shapes punched through the walls (Livin and Dyin) of Wile E. Coyote, Kool-Aid Man, Roger Rabbit and of Colen naked. The walls are around 1 foot thick. I wonder how they were originally knocked through and whether they will be made good completely or become a permanent display.

Untitled (Me and You) 2006-7

This mysterious painting Untitled (Me and You 2006-7)  is one of my favourite works from this exhibition. It is one of a series of Colen’s paintings based stills from Disney’s Pinocchio showing a candle on the workbench of Pinocchio’s creator – Geppetto.