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?
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.
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.’
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
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.
Monochromewas one of those exhibitions at the National Gallery that I booked for more out of a sense of duty. How wrong I was!! it was fantastic. It was amazing that drawings and paintings looked so much more 3D in black and white than in colour.
Ingres’s (1780-1867) La Grande Odalisque was so much more sensual and fleshy in monochrome than in colour. You have to go to the exhibition and see Ingres’s own black and white version to see just what I mean.
The paintings and drawings of stone sculptures were so life-like you could imagine that seen by candlelight without bright daylight or electricity viewers would believe they were real. Some incredible trompe l’oeil. A must see.
Once photography became commonplace, some artists regarded it as an enemy. Others like the author of this delightful portrait of a young girl meant his work to be like a photograph. Artists were told to Imitate,Rival or Challenge.
My only caveat. The last room deigned by Olaf Eliasson was lit entirely in very bright yellow – ostensibly to make it easier to see details. But I ended up with flickering lights behind my left eye for ages. I think there should have been a warning and the possibility of missing that room – though I couldn’t have known it would affect me so adversely.
Dali/Duchamp exhibition at the Royal Academy was an eye-opener. I had no idea Salvador Dali (1904-1989) and Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) were such great friends. I knew little about Duchamp’s work other than that he pioneered the display of ready made objects as works of art including his infamous Fountain – a urinal inscribed R. MUTT 1917 and had seen and admired The bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The large glass). it was interesting to see that early on he was a conventional representational artist. Having teenage children at the height of the Surrealist craze I got to know Dali’s work and visited a fascinating exhibition of his work in Richmond, Virginia which included a jewelled beating heart.
The strange thing for me about seeing the exhibition is that I saw the bent watches in the famous Dali painting The Persistence of Memory 1931 (not shown in this exhibition) as well as some artefacts by Jeff Coons, in one of my delusions while in Critical Care following my heart attack last year.
Up to 80% of patients in Intensive Care suffer periods of delirium and I had several. My very caring consultant was concerned that the memory of some of my delusions might be upsetting but they gave me just the material I needed for the last chapter of my memoir Woman in a White Coat.
The exhibition included some interesting short videos as well as lots of works I hadn’t seen before.
I’ve liked Rachel Whiteread’s work ever since I saw her House in Bethnal Green and though I don’t care for the insides of rubber hot water bottles shown on the Tate Britain poster I pretty much liked everything else in her exhibition.
I think this resin hive was my favourite though I found it hard to choose. I loved the way the light was reflected inside it.
It made me want to crawl inside.
I’d forgotten that Rachel Whiteread’s Untitled Monument 2001 was the third project to be placed on Trafalgar Square’s 4th plinth.
The first project in 1999 was Mark Wallinger’s Ecce Homo, a life sized figure of Christ and the 2nd was Bill Woodrow’s Regardless of History 2000 which is a head crushed between a book and the roots of a tree.
You can read my memoir Woman in a White Coat on Amazon Kindle as well as Google, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks.
Just now the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square has this enormous thumb by David Shrigley – the sign for Everything Is Good. Unveiled on September 29th 2016 the ten-meter high hand gives a thumbs up to London, Londoners and our Visitors.
I hadn’t noticed the hand until I saw this T shirt, mug, tote bag and badge in the Royal Academy shop. There hasn’t been an exhibition at the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery for a while and I don’t normally walk or look that way.
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.
Lovely view of the harbour complete with two-masted sailing vessel. Just not enough time to go across to the Viking museum.
I very much liked their collection of Cindy Sherman’s photographs. Amazing what she can turn herself into.
Hard to realise that this painting Untitled #152 of what apprears to be a bald man is also her.
We both liked Jeff Koons’porcelain Michael Jackson andBubbles, 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
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.
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!!
Lots of theme based artefacts in the Royal Academy Shop including jugs and cups based on Matisse’s collection.