Tag Archives: Paintings

Hokusai ‘Beyond the Great Wave’ at the British Museum

Beyond the Great Wave

A wonderful exhibition of Hokusai’s work, all the better for having seen the excellent documentary  ‘Hokusai from the British Museum’ beforehand. It was shown both at the British Museum and at a selection of cinemas as well as on BBC4 where it can be seen on iPlayer.

During his lifetime, Hokusai (1760-1849) adopted upwards of 20 different names. He adopted this last one – Hokusai – when he was 70, meaning ‘Old Man Crazy to Paint.’

Nichiren and Shichimen daimyojin

The exhibition shows his work from his old age and we are amazed at the quality of the line and colour. Before that, most of his work was reproduced as woodcuts and a video shows the consummate skill with which the finest of lines are carved. I particularly liked ‘The Gamecock and Hen’ painted 1826-1834.

And loved this gem showing his signature dragon as well as the deity Nichiren.

Cushions and other artefacts based on Hokusai prints

He made hundreds of little drawings – manga then meaning ‘random’, which show his wicked sense of humour.

Always a selection of interesting artefacts related to the current exhibition in the Grenville Room, the more exclusive shop on the right near the main entrance.
Josh found this Toilet Bowl Cleaner while surfing the web. Hokusai seemed to have been such a jokey person – I think he would have appreciated the humour!! Certainly, some of his drawings were quite racy.

If you can’t get to the British Museum, do watch the film ‘Hokusai from the British Museum’ on iPlayer.

Canaletto and The Art of Venice at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace

Also with paintings and drawings by his contemporaries

Another fascinating exhibition of paintings and drawings from the Queen’s own collection.

I can take or leave Canaletto’s paintings – they all look too similar to me and too yellow – nothing like the colourful Venice of my memory – but I loved his drawings – especially the early designs for the theatre., where he started his career. His drawings show his great sense of humour as well as his compassion.

 

A view of the Rialto

His paintings and drawings of Venice would have been a must for wealthy Englishmen making their Grand Tour.

Interesting drawings and paintings by his contemporaries included some by Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, Francesco Zuccarelli, Rosalba Carriera, Pietro Longhi and Giovanni Batista Piazzetta.

We have George III to thank for the collection. He bought Joseph Smith’s entire stock for £20,000 in 1762 – some 15,000 books, 500 paintings, drawings etc.

I personally prefer Canaletto’s paintings of London and its surroundings, carried out during his repeated visits to England 1746-1755, but obviously not included in this exhibition.

Giacometti at Tate Modern

The long thin sculptures we associate with Giacometti

Another interesting retrospective of Giacometti’s work, though I preferred the exhibition of his portraits at the National Portrait gallery with lots more paintings and a broader view of his oeuvre. You can’t get very close to his small elongated sculptures and from the distance you are kept from them it’s hard to distinguish one from another

Most of the exhibits were sculptures – a surprising number of lifelike  heads in the multitude in Room 1, as well as some of his signature long thin sculptures. Once again I was frustrated by having the titles of everything so far from the objects.

The enormous double life-size sculptures in the last room were amazing but one of the best things in the exhibition was the film about him, showing the amazing care with which his clay figurines were made – his hands darting rapidly from eyes, to crown and to mouth, modelling with fingers, knives or modelling tools.

The Giacometti posters against a backdrop of the River Thames and St Paul’s

For some reason, the coffee on the exhibition floor is always better than that in the downstairs café and the view from the balcony of the 3rd exhibition floor is stunning.

 

Always lots of merchandising!!

Looking around gallery shops is always a pleasure, though we might buy a couple of things for the grandchildren, rarely for ourselves. We have accumulated too many things!!

 

Ashley Bickerton – Damien Hurst does it again

 

Orange Shark (2008)

Ashley Bickerton’s Ornamental Hysteria is another brilliant exhibition in Damien Hurst’s gallery in Newport Street. Like the previous exhibition of his own Jeff Koons artefacts, the exhibition extends over two floors.

Born in Barbados in 1959, he has moved around the world ending up in New York in 1982.

Flower Pot (2009)

It’s hard to choose which of his work I liked best. This sculpture of colourful flowers growing out of skulls is certainly high on my list. The texture and colour of the stone container are gorgeous. The painting behind is Red Scooter (2009) a joyous vision of a family and their dog riding a red scooter on the beach.

Canoe, shark, woman (2016)

Love this sculpture of a woman balancing on a pile of coconuts and holding another hammer-head shark .

The serene painting on the wall behind is K.T._K.T (2015).

I must go again!!

David Hockney at Tate Britain, London

Open until May 29th 2017

We always book tickets for as early as possible, usually as soon as exhibitions open. In that way, they’re not still full of the viewers from previous slots. We were amazed at the long queues in both directions from Tate Britain’s side entrance. There is usually a gaggle of people waiting to get in but we’ve never seen crowds like these.

Some of the prints on sale

I booked rather as a duty than because I was thrilled at the thought of the exhibition. When I think of Hockney it’s of very pink nude male bottoms in a swimming pool but this exhibition was of much, much more, charting Hockney’s progress from his early student wok – more like graffiti than anything – up to his more recent exciting landscape videos – previously shown at the Royal Academy – and his iPad images.

My favourite painting – Celia Birtwell and Ossie Clark

Hockney’s painting of Celia and Ossie Clark is definitely my favourite. It was interesting seeing Celia Birtwell – now in her mid-seventies – interviewed on television and by the Independent, though for me she will always be that fresh-faced blonde in Hockney’s painting.

Note: Now that my memoir Woman in a White Coat is well on its way to its a final edit, if you email me at abby(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)abbyjw.com I will send you the first chapter and if you comment I will send you another. Hope to hear from you. 

America after the Fall, Royal Academy, London

Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic 1930

Another excellent exhibition at the Royal Academy. The poster shows Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic. I had never liked this painting that  I’d only seen in reproduction – glanced quickly and thought ‘What a miserable couple!’. In fact it’s of Grant Wood’s dentist and his sister, Nan. The house behind them is owned by the Dibble family. When you look carefully, Nan is quite pretty, with a gorgeous complexion so much better in the original painting.

Not much in the way of Abstract Expressionism, though there had just been a huge exhibition of those works. Just one Georgia O’Keefe – Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses. Grant Wood’s painting of three elderly women – Daughters of Revolution – struck terror – you could imagine them ruling their families and communities with a rod of iron!! There were a few painting reminiscent of German Expressionism – like Philip Evergood’s Dance Marathon and Reginald Marsh’s Twenty Cent Movie. Just one of those sad, evocative Edward Hopper paintings – Gas.

I hadn’t been sure I wanted to visit the exhibition but it was a lovely March day, spring flowers in planters outside many of the shops and the Cherry Trees in blossom and I’m so glad I went out that Sunday.

Not a large exhibition but varied and well worth the visit.

The new Switch House – Tate modern, London

Tate modern switch house

Finally got round to visiting the new 10-storey Tate Modern extension – the Switch House which opened June 2016 by the same architects – Herzog & de Meuron – who converted the original derelict Bankside Power Station that opened in 2000.

A brilliant use of light and space, though a bit overwhelming for someone like me, who has no head for heights. After looking though the tall window on the first floor into the Turbine Hall and turning back to a stark very tall white wall I needed to rescued by Josh before I could move!!

Tony Cragg’s Stack 1975

Liked too many of the installations to list them all but Tony Cragg’s Stack – a cube of raw ands prefabricated material – comes high on my list as do Ana Lupas’s The Solemn Process 1964-2008, Carl Andre’s Equivalent VIII 1966 and Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt’ s) Horizontal Square Reticularia 71/10 1971.

One of the several videos available

I particularly liked the room of videos which you turned on by standing in a spotlight.

I well remember the first end of year show at the Royal College of Art where videos were shown and thinking this wasn’t real art. How our ideas have changed so that now they are not only acceptable but expected.

Beyond Caravaggio – National Gallery, London

Beyond Caravaggio exhibition

I have been feeling guilty that after my heart attack I haven’t felt motivated or well enough to visit some of the great exhibitions presently on in London but I’m slowly catching up.

Last Sunday we went to see Beyond Caravaggio at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, London – an exhibition showing his far reaching influence on artists of his time. It’s interesting that without having his own school, Caravaggio’s style was taken up by so many painters, though he hated being copied and would threaten to beat up anyone who did so.

Boy with basket of Fruit

After 20 or so years his combination of live models, dramatic lighting (chiaroscuro) and storytelling fell out of favour until the 20th century, since when he has been increasingly popular.

Caravaggio  (1571-1610) said that painting still life requires as much artistry as painting figure and his still lifes were certainly beautiful. The boy with fruit and flowers in the exhibition was his rather naughty Boy bitten by a lizard 1594-5 which shows a lizard biting the boy’s middle finger with beautifully painted fruit and white roses in a glass vase and behind the boy’s ear.

ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM – Pleasure and Pain

abstract-outside
Exhibition at the Royal Academy September 24th – January 2nd 2017

 

The pleasure was in huge rooms full of Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), most of which I hadn’t seen before and Rothko,  (1903-1970) panels in lovely bright colours – one from 1949 subtitled Violet, black, orange,  yellow on White and Red – and much more.

I was not surprised to find that two of the paintings by Arshile Gorky (1904-1948) were so like de Kooning’s (1904-1997) when I read that he was Kooning’s mentor.

Though I quite liked the large abstract sculptures in the courtyard outside, only one of the sculptures within the exhibition really excited me – Sky Cathedral Moon Garden + One by Louise Nevelson 1957-60. A large sculpture composed of turned and shaped wood, I found it mystical and entralling.

The pain was yet again tiny print on the labels so that to read them I had to walk up close to the wall. Since following my heart attack my exercise tolerance is limited, it was literally a pain having to walk nearly twice the distance to read them all. In my view, if an artist gives their work a title, even if Untitled, it is relevant and should be easy to find. bad mark, curator.

Cover from Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock 1952
Cover from Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock 1952

I always promise myself that I’m not going to buy one more art book. We have too many on our coffee table already.
But this one was irresistible. Not only is the colour reproduction excellent but the text is interesting and readable.

 

Portrait of the Artist at the Queen’s Gallery Buckingham Palace

Artemesia
Self-portrait of Artemisia Gentileschi

Portrait of the Artist – Another sumptuous exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace. On until April 17th 2017.

Disappointing, to see so few women painters but delighted that this self-portrait of Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1652) was chosen for the poster. A tough woman who overcame rape and forced marriages to become as great a painter as her father.

Connoisseurs
Connoisseurs

 

Love this jokey picture by Sir Edwin Landseer (1803-1873) entitled The Connoisseurs: Portrait of the Artist with Two Dogs – th one on the right thought to be his own collie, Lassie, and the dog on the left is Myrtle, owned by a patron. The idea being that dogs can recognise fine art as competently as humans.

Judith with the head of Holofernes
Judith with the head of Holofernes

 

Surprisingly young and pretty Judith in this painting Judith with the Head of Holoferenes.by Christofano Allori (1577-1621). Her face is modelled on Allori’s ex-lover ‘La Mazzarirra.’

Not sure I’d want to paint my self-portrait as the decapitated Holofernes!!

An interesting comparison with Caravaggio’s ‘Judith Slaying Holofernes’ painted around the same time.