Tag Archives: Portraits

Chaïm Soutine’s Portraits at the Courtauld Gallery, London

Scrumptious cakes and my favourite Fruit Scones

I always enjoy exhibitions at the Courtauld Gallery – and tea or coffee in the café in the basement afterwards.

 

 

The exhibition leads out of the rooms housing the Courtauld galleries own interesting collection of mainly Impressionist paintings

Chaïm Soutine’s portraits of Cooks, Waiters and Bellboys is a delightful study of men and a couple of women who serve us in restaurants and hotels. They show varying degrees of boredom, insolence and occasional pleasure as they stare out at us from his brightly coloured paintings.

Not a large exhibition – only two rooms compared with the much larger exhibition of Cezanne’s portraits at the National Portrait gallery,  but I much preferred it.

Girl in a White Blouse (around 1923) from their permanent collection

Though not as well known as some of his friends and colleagues, the Russian – French Expressionist painter,  Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943) was one of the leading painters in Paris in the 1920s.

Soutine was born Chaïm Sutin, the tenth child of eleven children of Jewish parentage in Lithuania in 1893. He studied art at the Vilna Academy of Fine Arts, moving to Paris in 1913 where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. A close friend of Modigliani, he lived in poverty for many years until he caught the attention of major collectors such as the American Albert Barnes.

I’m delighted with the response to my memoir Woman in a White Coat and the very complimentary reviews on Amazon. Thank you all.

Cézanne Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, London

At the National Portrait Gallery until February 11th 2018

An interesting exhibition of Cézanne Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, though the best thing was that our daughter Jane, here for the weekend from Switzerland with her partner, was with us. And the coffee and scones in the basement café were good – certainly improved on the last time we had mid-morning snacks in the basement café.

Born in Aix-en-Provence in 1839, Cézanne enrolled in law school to please his father but left for Paris and a career in art in 1861. He was much influenced by Pisarro but developed a style of his own. His work was exhibited in the first exhibition of the Salon de Refusés in 1863.

One of my favorite Cézanne paintings

I like his work but was disappointed by his portraits except those of the ‘ordinary’ people’ in the last two rooms of the exhibition. I know he said he didn’t want to obey the stereotypes of pretty simpering women and tough handsome men, but except for the portrait of Mme Cézanne sewing I thought his many portraits of his wife too bland and expressionless and the few men too alike.

His Boy in a Red Waistcoat 1888-1890 – a portrait of the professional model Michelangelo de Rosa  and one of my favourite Cézanne paintings – has been used on the cover of the catalogue and there are prints on the wall of the downstairs café showing some of his more familiar and popular paintings.

A Great Weekend in Oslo, Norway, and a Visit to The Astrup Fearnley Museum

The Asstrup Fearnley Modern Art Museum

Loved our trip to the Astrup Fearnley  Modern Art Museum on the bay. Couldn’t understand why the collector bothered with so many of Damien Hirst’s half animals in formalin. When there was a scandal about keeping children’s brains I turned out my mounted specimens of cancers but I thought of offering the museum the head of my fractured right femur. I still have it in a jar in my bathroom cabinet – much more interesting and educational that half a cow.

Oslo harbour

Lovely view of the harbour complete with two-masted sailing vessel. Just not enough time to go across to the Viking museum.

Cindy Sherman as demure lady

 

 

I very much liked their collection of Cindy Sherman’s photographs. Amazing what she can turn herself into.

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Untitiled #152

 

 

Hard to realise that this painting Untitled #152 of what apprears to be a bald man is also her.

Michael Jackson and Bubbles 1988

We both liked Jeff Koons’  porcelain Michael Jackson and Bubbles, his chimpanzee,  in white and gold. Seeing Koons’ name reminded me of the hallucinations i had in the High Dependency Unit (HDU; dependant on care not on drugs) following my heart attack last August after I came off the ventilator.

Memoir extract from Chapter 28 of Woman in a White Coat

Continue reading A Great Weekend in Oslo, Norway, and a Visit to The Astrup Fearnley Museum

Matisse in the Studio at the Royal Academy, London

Matisse in the Studio exhibition open until November 12th 2017

Aren’t we Londoners lucky? Just one great exhibition after another.

I liked best the photographs of Matisse (1869-1954)  in his studio surrounded by the myriads of objects he had collected over a long life time.  Of the original objects on display I most liked the Moroccan table and the little ivory figurines from Africa. The enormous African masks were intriguing and terrifying.

Matisse surrounded by his collected objects
Set of Matisse drawings

I have mixed feelings about his paintings but I love his drawings. The shop had a collection of reproductions on sale – at £198 a bit outside my price range!!

Goodies in the Royal Academy shop

 

Lots of theme based artefacts in  the Royal Academy Shop  including jugs and cups based on Matisse’s collection.

 

 

BP Portrait Award 2017 at the National Portrait Gallery, London

BP Portrait Award 2017
One of my favorite images – Honest Thomas by Alan Coulson

In an interesting collection of portraits submitted for the BP portrait Award 2017 by contemporary artists I was surprised to find that only one portrait was abstract, all the rest were figurative representational images. Though I liked many of them most were too ‘photographic’ for my taste.

Cecilia by Madeline Fenton

 

I always enjoy the BP Portrait of the Year exhibitions though I rarely agree with the judges’ verdicts!!

 

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!!

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.

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.