Categories
1: Landscape 2: Abstraction Inspiration

Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly website

The following is edited from article by on Tate website

Life

Born and bred in Lexington, Virginia, Twombly was deeply influenced by Modern European art, particularly twentieth century European painting, and moved to Italy in 1957. Since that date he has worked in Rome and various locations in Italy and the United States as well as travelling widely around the Mediterranean.

Approach

Throughout his career, Twombly’s paintings have been based on two components – line and paint.

In such early works as Panorama 1955 (Daros Collection, Switzerland), a monotone grey canvas is covered in irregular chalk scribbles which hover on the verge of becoming recognisable as letters or ciphers.

In the 1960s, daubs, smears and drips of colourful paint applied with a brush, the brush handle and the tips of the artist’s fingers begin to supersede the crayon and graphite marks of his earlier paintings. In some paintings, such as August Notes from Rome 1961 (Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC), line is almost completely replaced by colourful patches of paint; in others, such as Leda and the Swan 1961 (collection the artist), it is a source of violent energy.

Since the mid 1970s, the linear marks frequently take the form of text, introducing a third component: written language. Clumsy capitals or scrawled cursive letters are mixed with doodled shapes and indecipherable scribbles usually in compositional balance with painted elements. The tension between the graphic qualities of linear inscription and the sensual materiality of paint is central to the impact of the work. This runs parallel to a tension between intellectual cultural history and intuitive emotional expression enacted in Twombly’s paintings. Classical mythology, literature and historical works of art are appropriated and translated into a visual response which is tactile, visceral and aesthetic. His particular reference to Greek and Roman myths evokes an archaic symbolism, a subject he shares with the American Abstract Expressionists. A generation younger, he is further connected to this movement by his expressive, ‘gestural’ use of paint.

Four Seasons

spring

Primavera, or spring, represents the first season of the year. A column of red curved and slashed forms dominates the image. These relate to traditional Egyptian rowing boats which, it has been suggested, symbolise the journey through the underworld in the Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’ (Bastian, p.37, note 15). Twombly lived for several months in Egypt in the mid 1980s and began to use the symbol of the boat in 1992. In Primavera, the red boat forms are smeared with patches of yellow, as though touched by the sun. In part II, Estate (Tate T07888), echoes of the boat forms in black, over-painted with white, are entirely covered with yellow, perhaps concealed by the blinding summer sun. The yellow patches in Primavera are applied in a central row, drawing the eye upwards to the top of the painting, where they culminate in a bouquet-like form containing touches of purple and pink. Strokes of white paint cover parts of the bouquet and the red boats, obliterate long dribbles of red paint and other smears and form a background for areas of text. The title Primavera, with the artist’s initials and the date ‘June 94’ written in red crayon, is followed by a fragment of poetic text in pencil referring to happiness and emotion ‘that almost overwhelms’. Twombly’s impression of spring is vibrant and celebratory.

summer

autumn

Autunno, or autumn, represents the third season of the year. The idea for the cycle began with this season, inspired by the wine harvest in Bassano in Teverina. Appropriately for the season, the colours in this painting are the richest in the group. The title is painted in irregular, dripping brown capitals near the top of the painting. Patches of deep greens, reds and browns blend with smears of dark blue, violet and yellow. On the left, stalks tipped with berries drawn with dark crayon emerge from clusters of muddy brown paint smeared with the artist’s finger tips. Placed in a vertical line above a thickly painted green area, the clusters of brown paint and their long drips form a dark margin on the side of the painting. Other finger smears and prints in red and green appear near a central formation of mixed, smeared colours. Near this, round patches of red extend towards the right with long, horizontal projections, echoing the direction of the stalks and suggesting movement. This appearance of sideways movement across the canvas dramatically counterbalances the sense of verticality created by the long drips. White paint, used to cover marks and text, has been applied more sparingly than in other paintings in the cycle. The words ‘your blood’ may be distinguished, half concealed by streaks and dribbles. Other text is too fragmented to be legible.

winter

Inverno, or winter, represents the fourth season of the year. In this painting, the jagged forms made up of horizontal and vertical strokes which produced curved ‘boats’ in parts I and II of the cycle, Primavera (Tate T07887) and Estate (Tate T07888), are depicted in an altered state in black. Heavily painted over and blended with one another, they are virtually indistinguishable as discrete forms. On the right side of the painting, black boat shapes beginning at the centre expand upwards into a large black patch. This is balanced by a smaller black patch at the bottom left of the painting. Swathes of white and daubs of yellow have been mixed over the areas of black, breaking it up so that it evokes pine branches buffeted by rain. Marks made by the movement of the artist’s fingers and brush across the canvas in horizontal streaks has created a sense of sideways motion, echoing that made by horizontal strokes of red in Autunno (Tate T07889). Fragments of text and other marks on the cream canvas are covered by white paint. Several layers of this have been smeared over a large proportion of the canvas in a thin wash resulting in dribbles over much of the central area. Minimal blobs of light green in the centre and a patch of pale yellow on the right soften the harsh atmosphere of the image, which conveys a strong sense of winter’s harsh winds and bleak cold

Quattro Stagioni is a cycle of four paintings representing the four seasons. Tate’s version is the second of two cycles; the first is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Both cycles were begun in 1993 at Twombly’s studio in Bassano in Teverina (north of Rome) and completed in 1994 at another house owned by the artist in Gaeta on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Twombly’s representations of the four seasons are typical to his production of the late 1980s and 1990s in which light has become a principal theme. His prominent use of white echoes that of French Impressionists such as Claude Monet (1840-1926) for whom it was an important ingredient in the depiction of light. A series of nine paintings, Untitled 1988 (Cy Twombly Gallery, Houston), portraying the green reflective surfaces of a watery pool, recalls Monet’s celebrated paintings of his water garden at Giverny, France created between 1899 and 1926. Plant life and the sea also recur in Twombly’s imagery of this period. A single work is frequently made up of several parts, as in Quattro Stagioni which is subtitled A Painting in Four Parts.

The four seasons as symbols of the natural cycles of birth and death are a classical theme in poetry, music and painting. In Twombly’s Quattro Stagioni strong colours evoking the brilliance of the Mediterranean light are combined with scrawled poetic fragments from several sources. After pre-priming the canvases with cream-coloured gesso, the artist pinned them to the wall and applied individual colours, allowing the paint to dribble down in long, vertical lines.

Estate, or summer, represents the second season of the year. Predominantly white and yellow, the painting is dominated by the blinding light of mid-summer in a hot country. The canvas is covered with many layers of paint and text in pencil and red crayon. Echoes of the red boat-shapes, which form a central column in part I, Primavera (Tate T07887), cross the centre of this painting in a diagonal line. Originally painted in black, they have been covered by patches of bright yellow, onto which the artist has made vertical and horizontal pencil lines repeating the basic form of the boat. This relates to traditional Egyptian rowing boats which, it has been suggested, symbolise the journey through the underworld in the Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’ (Bastian, p.37, note 15). Twombly lived for several months in Egypt in the mid 1980s and began to use the symbol of the boat in 1992. On the right side of Estate, passages of a poem by the Greek poet George Seferis (1900-71) are partially legible. Referring to the transience of youth and the passage of time, it evokes the vanitas tradition, in which symbols of mutability and mortality undercut symbols of beauty and fertility. At the top of the painting, the name Baia de Gaeta is superimposed over the words ‘Say goodbye Catullus to the shores of Asia Minor’. Twombly subsequently used these words as the subtitle for a painting in three parts begun in 1972 and finally completed in 1994. This work, Untitled Painting 1994 (Cy Twombly Gallery, Houston) shares much of the imagery of Quattro Stagioni, including the journeying boats and the focus on white light. The Roman lyric poet Catullus (84-54 BC) died soon after returning to Rome from the neighbouring province of Bithynia, Asia Minor, reputedly of a broken heart.
Further reading:
Heiner Bastian: Cy Twombly: Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, volume IV 1972-1995, Munich 1995, pp.34-5 and 178, reproduced p.180 in colour
Demosthenes Davvetas, Roberta Smith and Harald Szeemann, Cy Twombly: Paintings, Works on Paper, Sculpture, exhibition catalogue, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London and Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf 1987
Kirk Varnedoe, Cy Twombly: A Retrospective, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Modern Art, New York 1994, pp.162-5
Elizabeth Manchester
May 2003
Read this summary in full

Categories
1: Landscape Inspiration

Claude Monet

Claude Monet was one of the inspirations for:

Project 1.2 Urban Landscapes

Assignment 3: Willows

Monet Creative Commons website

Monet urban landscapes

Between 1883 and 1908, Monet travelled to London where he painted two important series — views of Parliament and views of Charing Cross Bridge. My work on this course coincided with two key exhibitions in London at the National Gallery and Tate Gallery.

The Willows

During World War I Monet painted a series of Weeping Willow trees as homage to the French fallen soldiers. Cataracts formed on Monet’s eyes, for which he underwent two operations in 1923. The paintings done while the cataracts affected his vision have a general reddish tone, which is characteristic of the vision of cataract victims. It may also be that after surgery he was able to see certain ultraviolet wavelengths of light that are normally excluded by the lens of the eye, this may have had an effect on the colors he perceived. After his operations he even repainted some of these paintings, with bluer water lilies than before the operation.

https://da.khanacademy.org/humanities/becoming-modern/avant-garde-france/impressionism/v/monet-les-nymph-as-the-water-lilies-1918-26

 

Categories
1: Landscape 5: Memory Inspiration Natural Printmakers Woodcut

Richard Bosman

Richard Bosman (B 1944) is an Australian artist and printmaker who has produced woodcuts and linocuts since 1980s.

Google images for Richard Bosman linocut

Many of Bosman’s paintings and prints are concerned with tragedies in dark urban settings, on rough seas, and in eerily quiet woods.  They have been influenced by expressionist printmakers like Edvard Munch and Emil Nolde. Also Japanese printmakers like Hokusai.

Some of his work is very experimental. He printed Smokers (1982) with his wife in an edition of two rolls of paper towels.

Born in India, raised in Australia, and the son of a merchant sea captain, Bosman has repeatedly returned to the setting of the sea. In an exhibition “Death and the Sea” at Owen James Gallery  he depicts different aspects of the South Pacific sea: volcanoes, moonlit voyages and farewells, small rowboats fighting gigantic waves – “mankind is fickle, life is fleeting, and that the ocean remains unconcerned with our plight”.
“There is a cinematic beauty to these works by Bosman.  We sometimes feel as though we are looking at a film strip stopped in time, somewhere between cause and horrible effect.  Works such as Volcano and Fog Bank are subtle in their ability to show the progress of time, but there are visual gaps in it, and it is in these gaps that much of the intrigue lies.  In Night Sky the effect is almost imperceptible.  Here, only the stars move, and in this movement we find we are disoriented. Both South Seas Kiss and Mutiny share the short-lived joy of shore-leave, as a captain is first enraptured by an island girl only to meet his demise once he turns his back.”
 

Categories
2: Abstraction Inspiration Printmakers

Toko Shinoda

[wpdevart_youtube]u2vnKHyCabw[/wpdevart_youtube]

Spanish slideshow of her work

[wpdevart_youtube]ryO6uknKch4[/wpdevart_youtube]

Toko Shinoda Exhibit by The Tolman Collection, Tokyo at Musee Kikuchi

[wpdevart_youtube]u2vnKHyCabw[/wpdevart_youtube]

Google images

Toko Shinoda (篠田 桃紅 Shinoda Tōkō?, born March 28, 1913) is a Japanese artist working with sumi ink paintings and lithograph prints. Her art merges traditional calligraphy with modern abstract expression. She says she prefers her paintings and original drawings, because sumi ink presents unlimited colour spectrum. In printmaking, Shinoda uses lithograph as her medium. Unlike woodcut that requires chisel, or etching that requires acid, lithograph allows Shinoda to work directly and spontaneously on the plate with her fluid brushstroke. Shinoda’s strokes are meant to suggest images and vitality of nature. She says, “Certain forms float up in my mind’s eye. Aromas, a blowing breeze, a rain-drenched gust of wind…the air in motion, my heart in motion. I try to capture these vague, evanescent images of the instant and put them into vivid form.” Shinoda’s print editions are small, usually ranging from twelve to fifty-five, and after each edition has been pulled, she often adds a stroke or two of sumi color by hand to each print.

Life

Shinoda was born in Manchuria where her father managed a tobacco factory. Two years later, her family returned to Japan. Influenced by her father’s love of sumi ink painting, calligraphy and Chinese poetry, Shinoda practiced calligraphy since she was six.

Shinoda traveled the United States from 1956 to 1958. During this time her works were bought by Charles Laughton and John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Shinoda also became involved in the abstract expressionist movement of the time.

A 1983 interview in Timemagazine noted that “her trail-blazing accomplishments are analogous to Picasso’s”. Shinoda’s works had been exhibited in the Hague National Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, Cincinnati Art Museum and other leading museums in the world.

She turned 100 in March 2013.

Books on her work

  • Takashina, Shuji. Okada, Shinoda, and Tsukata: Three Pioneers of Abstract Painting in 20th Century Japan. Washington: Phillips Collection, c1979.
  • Tolman, Mary and Tolman, Norman. Toko Shinoda: A New Appreciation. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E Tuttle Company, 1993.
Categories
1: Landscape Collagraph Inspiration Media Natural Urban

John Piper

John Piper was born in Epsom, Surrey, in 1903, the son of solicitor Charles Piper. He was educated at Epsom College and trained at the Richmond School of Art, followed by the Royal College of Art in London.[1] He turned from abstraction early in his career, concentrating on a more naturalistic but distinctive approach.

As a child, Piper lived in Epsom, at that time in the countryside. He went exploring on his bike, and drew and painted pictures of old churches and monuments on the way. He started making guide books complete with pictures and information at a young age. He studied at Epsom College. He did not like the college but found refuge in the art school. When he left Epsom College, Piper wanted to go to art school, to study to become an artist. However, his father disagreed and wanted him to be a solicitor. They agreed that John Piper would work for his father in London for three years, and then could pursue whatever career he chose. He failed the law exams and his father died soon after, leaving him free to become an artist. His work often focused on the British landscape, especially churches.

Piper was appointed an official war artist in World War II from 1940–1942.[1] The morning after the air raid that destroyed Coventry Cathedral, Piper produced his first painting of bomb damage, Interior of Coventry Cathedral now exhibited at the Herbert Art Gallery. Jeffery Daniels in The Times described the painting of the ruins as “all the more poignant for the exclusion of a human element”. It has been described as “Britain’s Guernica”.[2]

Piper collaborated with many others, including the poets John Betjeman and Geoffrey Grigson (on the Shell Guides[3][4]), and with potter Geoffrey Eastop and artist Ben Nicholson. In later years he produced many limited-edition prints.

Sir Osbert Sitwell invited Piper to Renishaw Hall to paint the house and illustrate an autobiography he was writing and Piper made his first of many visits to the estate in 1942. The family retain 70 of his pictures and there is a display at the hall.[5]

From 1950 Piper worked in stained glass in partnership with Patrick Reyntiens, whom he had met through John Betjeman.[6] They designed the stained-glass windows for the new Coventry Cathedral, and later for the Chapel of Robinson College, Cambridge. Washington National Cathedral prominently features his large window, “The Land Is Bright”. He designed windows for many smaller churches and created tapestries for Chichester Cathedral and Hereford Cathedral. He was a set designer for the theatre, including the Kenton Theatre in Henley and Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff. He designed many of the premiere productions of Benjamin Britten’s operas at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Royal Opera House, La Fenice and the Aldeburgh Festival, as well as for some of the operas of Alun Hoddinott. In 2012 a major exhibition ‘John Piper and the Church’ examined his relationship with the Church and his contribution to the development of modern art within churches.[7] Piper wrote extensively on modern art in books and articles.[8][9][10][11] With his wife, Myfanwy Piper, he founded the contemporary art journal, Axis.

On 28 June 1992 John Piper died at his home at Fawley Bottom, Buckinghamshire, where he had lived for most of his life. His children are painters Edward Piper (deceased) and Sebastian Piper, and his grandchildren include painter Luke Piper and sculptor Henry Piper.

His auction record, £325,250, was set at Sotheby’s on 15 July 2008 for “Forms on Dark Blue”, a 3′ by 4′ oil painting made in 1936.[12]

Categories
2: Abstraction 4: Portrait 5: Memory Inspiration

Ibrahim El-Salahi

Ibrahim el-Salahi  (1930 – present) is a Sudanese artist painter and former politician and diplomat.He is considered a pioneer in Sudanese art. He developed his own style and was one of the first artists to elaborate the Arabic calligraphy in his paintings.

website: http://ibrahimsalahi.com

Google images

Ibrahim El Salahi Interview Tate Modern, July 2013

[wpdevart_youtube]BcmURP2jBoA[/wpdevart_youtube]

African Art on Display at London’s Tate Modern

[wpdevart_youtube]ELel952Ul9Y[/wpdevart_youtube]

Starts with in-depth interview with El-Salahi on his experiences in 1970s.

Tate Shots exhibition overview
[wpdevart_youtube]yenSUBmGrdU[/wpdevart_youtube]

Ibrahim El Salahi Focus on Africa BBC World

 [wpdevart_youtube]kDSLvaXLjf4[/wpdevart_youtube]

Development of his art

El-Salahi was born on September 5, 1930, in Omdurman, Sudan. He studied Art at the School of Design of the Gordon Memorial College, currently the University of Khartoum. On the basis of a scholarship, he subsequently went to the Slade School of Fine Art in London from 1954 to 1957. He also stayed in Perugia in Italy for some time, to enlarge his knowledge of renaissance art. Back in Sudan, he taught at the School for Applied Arts in Khartoum.

In 1950s, 1960s and 1970s his work is dominated by elementary forms and lines. When El-Salahi returned to Khartoum to teach at the Technical Institute in 1957, he became one of the lead artists in a movement known as the ‘Khartoum School.’ Having gained its freedom from British colonial rule only one year previously, Sudanese artists were trying to define a new artistic voice and means of expression for the country. Yet when he held an exhibition of his work from the Slade at the Grand Hotel in Khartoum, Salahi’s academic style was uniformly rejected. Salahi took some time out from painting to travel around the country to seek inspiration. Here, the influence of Arabic calligraphy, which he had learned as a young child, became more pronounced in his painting, as he began to integrate Islamic signs and scripts into his compositions. Speaking of this era, the artist himself said:

‘The years 1958-1961 were a period of feverish activity on my part in search of individual and cultural identities […] Those years, as it turned out, were the years of transformation and transformation that I went through as far as my work was concerned.’

In 1962 he received a UNESCO scholarship to the United States, from where he visited South America. From 1964 to 1965 he returned to the US with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, and in 1966 he led the Sudanese delegation during the first World Festival of Black Arts in Dakar, Senegal.

Self-Portrait of Suffering (1961) is one of his best-known works from this time. The distended face that becomes almost equine, the dry brush marks and muted palette, show influence of Picasso, who himself appropriated distorted facial features from West African masks. The inability to trace the visual language to a root source is an articulate allegory for the artists’ sense of creative displacement at this time. Other works, such as Reborn Sound of Childhood Dreams (1961-5), integrated the crescent, a motif of Islamic art that recurred frequently throughout his work. El-Salahi also explored the formal properties of paint. Some canvases are incredibly heavy, with a thick impasto crust of paint (Victory of Truth (1962); Dry Months of the Fast (1962)); others with such thin layers of paint the image barely sits above the canvas, such as Vision of the Tomb (1965), crisp detail echoes traditional Arabic miniature painting.

After working for the Sudanese Embassy in Britain for a time in the early 1970s, El-Salahi was offered the position of Deputy Under Secretary of Culture at the Ministry of Information in Sudan under the military dictatorship of General Gaafar Nimeiry. After a failed military coup in which a relative was implicated, he was arrested in 1975, accused of anti-government activities and incarcerated for just over six months. El-Salahi is a Muslim of a Sufi sect, and during this trying time he discovered that the harrowing conditions he was subjected to could be escaped only through his deep spirituality. This was, according to the artist, a time of great personal change. The quiet pen and ink drawings and prose that make up Prison Notebook show a period of introspection and self-examination, with linear and fluid gestures that skirt tentatively across the page.

Upon his release, the artist relocated to Qatar. His work becomes rather meditative, abstract and organic. Subsequently his work is characterized by lines, while he mainly uses white and black paint.

In the late 1980s, El-Salahi began to absorb more of the forms of futurist figures. Still using a pen, his figures become machine-like, solid and heavy, composed of lines, tangents, and geometric shapes. The interlocking ellipses of Boccioni can be found in compositions such as The Inevitable (1984-85), and Female Tree (1994), and dense cross-hatched lines cement the image to its support.

TateShots: Ibrahim El-Salahi’s ‘The Inevitable’

[wpdevart_youtube]jI5LnvjBPjI[/wpdevart_youtube]

Often considered El-Salahi’s masterpiece, The Inevitable was first conceived by the artist during his wrongful imprisonment. Deprived of paper, El-Salahi would sketch out plans for future paintings on the back of small cement casings, before burying them in the sand whenever a guard would come near. Working in this manner led to the artist developing a new style, one seen in The Inevitable, where a painting spreads out from what he refers to as the ‘nucleus’, or the germ of an idea, with a meaning hidden even from the artist himself until the work is finished. Only when he saw The Inevitable completed did El-Salahi realise how clear the message was; that people must rise up and fight tyranny and those that suppress them. This was something he felt was relevant not just to his own life when he created the work in the mid-eighties, but to all of Sudan.

When in 1998 El-Salahi moved to Oxford, this new interest in bold geometric lines was pushed further. Using the english countryside as his subject, he began using vertical parallel lines to describe the form of a tree across a series of paintings and drawings. The use of geometric shapes to evoke natural forms perhaps harks back to the Islamic tradition of using geometric pattern to describe the order of the world. Yet through the prism of El-Salahi’s oeuvre, works such as Tree (2008) become Mondrian-esque divisions of canvas, panels of colour against white, that are nonetheless representational.

Many of his compositions suggest painting as meditation or a means of transcendance. Often praying before beginning to work, he says he has little control over the final image on the canvas; the creation of his works becomes almost an autodidactic gesture. Unlike so many established painters, who in later life fall into a distinct, comfortable style, El-Salahi continues to experiment and test himself and his art, integrating Western and Sudanese influences, exploring the boundaries of visual language and transcending a fixed cultural identity.

Rebecca Jagoe: Ibrahim El-Salahi: Painting in Pursuit of a Cultural Identity

Categories
1: Landscape 2: Abstraction Abstract Inspiration

Kurt Jackson

Kurt Jackson (1961-present)

A British painter whose large mixed media canvases reflect a concern with natural history, ecology and environmental issues.

The majority of Jackson’s work reflects his commitment to the environment and the natural world within Cornwall, although he also works elsewhere in Britain and mainland Europe; recent projects include bodies of work on the Thames, the Avon, the Forth, Ardnamurchan and the Glastonbury Festival series. He has been Artist in Residence on the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, at the Eden Project, an ambassador for Survival International and frequently works with Friends of the Earth, WaterAid, Oxfam, Surfers Against Sewage and Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

His paintings frequently carry small commentaries on the scene depicted and show a fascination particularly with the detail of plants and animals within an overall ecology and evoke a calm, spiritual and warm relationship with the landscape, even of apparently bleak scenes.

website

Google images

Importance of feeling and working process

How Jackson approaches landscape composition.

Environmental Activism

Bibliography

Cocker, M., Dunmore, H., Hare, B., Jacobson, H., Mabey, R., Marsden, P., Mooney, B., Packer, W., Taylor, J. R., Smit, T. & Tooby, M., (2010) Kurt Jackson: A New Genre of Landscape Painting, Farnham, Surrey: Lund Humphries.

Livingstone, A. & Kackson, K., (2012) Kurt Jackson Sketchbooks, Farnham Surrey: Lund Humphries.

Categories
2: Abstraction Inspiration

Sandra Blow

Sandra Blow (1925 – 22)

[wpdevart_youtube]zgimoBXyEN4[/wpdevart_youtube]

[wpdevart_youtube]S-2VBqA-DpE[/wpdevart_youtube]

A Talk About Sandra Blow  Video You Tube

Sandra Blow – A view of her working in the studio on a day to day basis.  Video You Tube 

website of the Sandra Blow Estate

Sandra Blow Google images

Every movement we make is a sort of balancing act

 

What do I know about finishing a painting? i can’t separate the calm, strong vertical movement of this painting from the shifting bands of evening light across its lower right-hand corner. I wouldn’t change what I can see at this moment for another, more ‘finished’ kind of vision”

For me, as well as the natural interactions of colour and line, there is a biological facor in a painting, in which all the parts contribute to the functional whole, as our bodies do. When it ‘lives in that way, it is finishedIn addition, there is a God-sent gift, a balance of magic.

The crucial thing is that although [a shape or colour is] perfect in its place, there is an unexpected quality about it, an element of surprise. It is something I find with great difficulty. It doesn’t come naturally to me…But it occsasionally occurs, as in Green and White(1969) where the thin line next to the two broad bands produces that sort of contrast that stops the composition from being heavy. It gives the thrill of a leap, a daring, a lightness – like Salisbury Catherdral where you have the great heavy spire beside a magically thin small spire which is perfectly, thrillingly balanced with it.” p19

I have two equal sources of inspiration. One is art, first the Renaissance art I saw in Italy at the same time as I sawAlberto Burri and Nicolas Carone…and later African sculpture and, among m,ay other painters, Roger Hilton and Morris Louis. The second influence is nature. I marvel at the beauty and construction of the leaves and flowers outside the studio. I love London skies, because they are framed and one sees them like a moving painting. I’m often amazed at the juxtaposition of trees, parts of buildings and the sky, and constantly changing, subtle colours. I also love great sweeps of moorlands, where you have wonderful undulating lines.

 

influence of african art: pulls and pushes not on an even line. structural tensions.

emotion, vulnerability, exhuberance.

there are certain patterns on the beach, which are sand ridges that are caused by the tide, and when the tide goes out, they’re visble, and running across them are inlets of water, which makes a sort of grid   p147

what matters for blow is where things will go from here. not the work that already exists but the painting that has yet to happen, that may take shape, tomorrow or the next day…  p159

Sandra Blow was an abstract painter who has also used materials such as polyethylene, and willow cane to construct pictures, Blow was concerned pre-eminently with the problems of pure painting: balance and proportion, tension and scale.

Sandra Blow was born in London and studied at Saint Martins School of Art from 1941 to 1946, at the Royal Academy Schools from 1946 to 1947, and subsequently at the Academy of Fine Arts Shortly after the Second World War, Blow studied at the Royal Academy Schools. Here she gained the patronage of Ruskin Spear, Carel Weight and Robert Buhler would remain the pattern throughout her career.

In 1947 she lived in Italy for a year. She motorcycled around the countryside, discovering at first hand the architecture and pre-Renaissance frescos. She came to know the well-known Italian painter Alberto Burri. While Blow did not produce work of her own in Italy, she learnt a great deal from the Italian master of “art informel” and later adapted Burri’s manner of composing with sackcloth, tar and other low-grade materials for her own, perhaps more naturalistic, ends. In the late 1940s she travelled to Spain and France.

1950s: matter paintings

During the 1950s, Sandra Blow was one of the pioneering abstract painters along with Denis Bowen, Patrick Heron, Roger Hilton, Gillian Ayres and many others. She established a calligraphic style in sensitive landscape drawings and a pronounced gestural handling of material in the paintings. Her use of dingy earth pigments like ochre, beige, brown, black and white to some extent mitigated the explosive and expansive spatial feeling engendered by splattered and flying paint marks.

She was sometimes called a ‘matter painter’, introducing into British art a new expressive informality, using cheap, discarded materials such as sawdust, sackcloth and plaster alongside the more familiar material of paint. A tactile as well as visual emphasis on surface resulted in powerful and complex images, exuding a rooted earthiness, yet full of mysterious flux and ambiguity. She worked in Cornwall for a year from 1957 to 1958.

Following her first painting sale, to Roland Penrose (a founder of the Institute of Contemporary Arts), Blow’s career took off. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, she regularly exhibited with Gimpel Fils, the leading London gallery whose association with St Ives artists like Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Peter Lanyon anticipated her move in 1957 to live for a year in a cottage at Zennor near St Ives. Blow was widely exhibited abroad throughout this time, establishing the international profile that her cosmopolitan outlook warranted. Participation in peripatetic displays of contemporary British art saw her work promulgated in Italy, Holland, Germany, the United States and later Australasia.

In 1957 she featured in the first John Moores biannual exhibition in Liverpool and was included in the Young Artists Section at the Venice Biennale the following year. She won the International Guggenheim Award in 1960 and won second prize at the third John Moores exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in 1961.

untitled 1951  p48

plaster and sacking 1956

winter 1956

cornwall 1958

painting 1957

Space and matter 1959 stormy

1960s and 1970s

From 1960 she went on to teach at the Royal College of Art. David Hockney, Patrick Caulfield and Ron Kitaj were among the students. In response to the optimistic climate of the 1960s, Blow’s palette lightened and for most of the rest of her career, easily manipulated collage materials, like torn paper or brightly coloured canvas cut-outs, littered her often large-scale pictures. The Matisse-inspired decorative manner of her middle and late periods was a seamless collaboration between the constructed and the freely painted.

She was appointed Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art in 1973

Green and white 1969 – 10 foot square offset green quadrants and pale intersecting bands that nevertheless appears to be subtly and continually balancing itself in several directions at once.

green and red variations 1972

1980s

sacking indigo and white 1982

sacking brown and white 1982

Vivace 1988

glad ocean 1989

mid 1990s-to 2006

In moving to St Ives during the mid-1990s, Blow came full circle, reinvigorating a Cornish art scene bereft of the glories she had sampled 35 years before. For the first few years she worked in a beachfront studio at Porthmeor, but later built a large studio and home at Bullens Court above the town.

She exhibited locally but also fulfilled her obligations as a Royal Academician, participating in every Summer Exhibition at Burlington House, where she enjoyed a retrospective in 1994 at the newly built Sackler Galleries. An exhibition to mark Blow’s 80th birthday was held at Tate Britain in 2004, coinciding with the publication of a biography, Sandra Blow, by Michael Bird.

Selva Oscura 1993

Brilliant Corner II 1993

untitled porthmeor series 1996

porthmeor 1996

clodgy 1996

laurentian trail 2004

final painting 2006 from video dynamic window spiralling into light

 

———————

every movement we make is a sort of balancing act  sandra blow on video.

What do I know about finishing a painting? i can’t separate the calm, strong vertical movement of this painting from the shifting bands of evening light across its lower right-hand corner. I wouldn’t change what I can see at this moment for another, more ‘finished’ kind of vision”

For me, as well as the natural interactions of colour and line, there is a biological facor in a painting, in which all the parts contribute to the functional whole, as our bodies do. When it ‘lives in that way, it is finishedIn addition, there is a God-sent gift, a balance of magic.

The crucial thing is that although [a shape or colour is] perfect in its place, there is an unexpected quality about it, an element of surprise. It is something I find with great difficulty. It doesn’t come naturally to me…But it occsasionally occurs, as in Green and White(1969) where the thin line next to the two broad bands produces that sort of contrast that stops the composition from being heavy. It gives the thrill of a leap, a daring, a lightness – like Salisbury Catherdral where you have the great heavy spire beside a magically thin small spire which is perfectly, thrillingly balanced with it.” p19

I have two equal sources of inspiration. One is art, first the Renaissance art I saw in Italy at the same time as I sawAlberto Burri and Nicolas Carone…and later African sculpture and, among m,ay other painters, Roger Hilton and Morris Louis. The second influence is nature. I marvel at the beauty and construction of the leaves and flowers outside the studio. I love London skies, because they are framed and one sees them like a moving painting. I’m often amazed at the juxtaposition of trees, parts of buildings and the sky, and constantly changing, subtle colours. I also love great sweeps of moorlands, where you have wonderful undulating lines.

 

influence of african art: pulls and pushes not on an even line. structural tensions.

emotion, vulnerability, exhuberance.

there are certain patterns on the beach, which are sand ridges that are caused by the tide, and when the tide goes out, they’re visble, and running across them are inlets of water, which makes a sort of grid   p147

what maters for blow is where things will go from here. not the work that already exists but the painting that has yet to happen, that may take shape, tomorrow or the next day…  p159

untitled porthmeor series 1996

porthmeor 1996

clodgy 1996

The paintings she herself considers pivotal are:

Vivace 1988

glad ocean 1989

untitled 1951  p48

plaster and sacking 1956

winter 1956

cornwall 1958

painting 1957

Space and matter 1959 stormy

Green and white 1969 – 10 foot square offset green quadrants and pale intersecting bands that nevertheless appears to be subtly and continually balancing itself in several directions at once.

green and red variations 1972

sacking indigo and white 1982

sacking brown and white 1982

Selva Oscura 1993

Brilliant Corner II 1993

laurentian trail 2004

final paintng 2006 from video dynamic window spirallibng into light

 

Categories
1: Landscape 2: Abstraction 3: Chiaroscuro 4: Portrait Etching Inspiration Lithograph Media Monoprint Natural Self-portrait

Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas has been influential in my work for:

Degas produced many prints as well as paintings, and often worked in pastels over prints.

Lithographs

He produced lithographs from some of his paintings – some of these have a beautiful dreamy quality, benefiting from a monochrome treatment to enhance the total contrasts.

Degas After the Bath 1891–92 Lithograph, transfer, and crayon on laid paper; fifth (final) state
Degas After the Bath 1891–92 Lithograph, transfer, and crayon on laid paper; fifth (final) state
Degas La-Chanteuse-1888-89 lithograph

Etching

His etching uses a range of styles, often based on drawings of intimate scenes that have a . In ‘The laundress’ his energetic lines echo the frenzy of work in the laundry, and the ink tone on the plate conveys the steam and mist. His ‘whorehouse scenes’, some based on monoprints have an immediacy and poignancy not found in his painting.

Degas The laundress, 1879-80. Etching on copper plate.
Degas The laundress, 1879-80. Etching on copper plate.
Degas Whorehouse scene 'The drunk prostitutes'
Degas Whorehouse scene ‘The drunk prostitutes’

Monoprints

Degas (1834-1917) took up monotype printing in 1874-75. In his lifetime Degas produced more than 250 subjects and 400 separate impressions in monotype, far exceeding his etchings or lithographs. He used ghost prints as a basis for pastels. Between 1876-1881 nearly 70% of his works in colour were monoprints enhanced with pastel, sometimes drawing with them, sometimes wetting them for watercolour effects to give different moods, and to add and take away figures.

Degas Le Sommeil c 1885 Courtesy of British Museum
Degas Le Sommeil c 1885 Courtesy of British Museum

Degas found monotype gave him greater freedom to improvise and be spontaneous than drawing on paper allowed. The ability to wipe and smear ink on the plate, and the darkness of tone from the ink, allow a range of mark=making and tone very difficult to achieve with charcoal. It was ideal for capturing secret and intimate scenes, such as women engaged in their toilet or in brothel scenes. He was influenced by Japanese woodblock prints and was interested in the ways shapes and lines can be organised on paper to indicate figures in movement. From 1870s he started to have problems with his eyesight, so he was more sensitive to light/dark contrasts and created dramatic chiaroscuro effects.

He was introduced to the process by his friend the amateur etcher Vicomte Ludovic Napoléon Lepic (1839-1889).  Lepic enjoyed experimenting tonal wiping (l’eau forte mobile or variable etching) to create many variations on a basic landscape composition. He used one etched plate and  wiped off this plate, and also ‘retroussage’,  a way of adding ink to previously wiped plates to produce much richer tones on the prints.

Degas adopted this  ‘dark-field’ method. He covered the entire surface of the printing plate in oily, slow-drying ink and then removed it as necessary to create the image. He scratched and brushed it, wiped it with a rag and manipulated it with his fingers to create the composition, before fixing it by printing it onto paper. He worked and reworked his plates, wiping off and adding ink with rags, fingers and brushes. Later he began to draw on the plate with Indian ink, often diluting it with turpentine and working directly on the plate with a paintbrush.

Degas usually printed two impressions of each monotype subject, one strong, the other weak. He would keep untouched the first impressions (this is a first impression), but he would rework the second with pastel or gouache.

A Strange New Beauty: Monoprint Landscapes

His monoprint landscapes, included in a MoMA exhibition in 2016, are particularly beautiful and innovative. These use oil based ink and solvents to produce misty effects with strong abstraction.

 

Edgar Degas, Factory Smoke, 1877–79, monotype on paper, 4¾ x 6¼ inches

Sources

Hauptman, J. (2016). Degas: A Strange New Beauty, New York: MoMA.

Google images for Degas chiaroscuro

Degas Creative Commons site for paintings only.

Categories
2: Abstraction 3: Chiaroscuro 4: Portrait 5: Memory Etching Inspiration Linocut Lithograph Media Monoprint Printmakers Still Life

Pablo Picasso

To be further developed as I finish Assignments 3, 4 and 5.

Picasso’s work is a key influence in my printmaking, both stylistically and conceptually. I am particularly interested in his abstract work both that influenced by African art with its ferocious angularity that is also echoed in Guernica, and the fragmented light of the abstraction in analytic cubism ‘trying to communicate the perfume’ of an image. See particularly:

and forthcoming:

  • Assignment 4: Abstract Self Portrait (1932 paintings, cubism, portraits and lithographs) forthcoming
  • Assignment 5: From memory (influenced by Guernica) forthcoming

Painting isn’t an aesthetic operation; it’s a form of magic designed as a mediator between this strange, hostile world and us, a way of seizing the power by giving form to our terrors as well as our desires.(p11)

Painting is stronger than I am. It makes me do what it wants. (p70)

A picture is not thought out and settled beforehand. While it is being done it changes as one’s thoughts change. And when it is finished, it still goes on changing, according to the state of mind of whoever is looking at it. (p12)

References and Resources

  • Borchardt-Hume, A. and N. Ireson, Eds. (2018). Picasso 1932: The EY Exhibition. London, Tate Publishing.
  • Clark, H., Ed. (1993). Picasso: In His Words. San Francisco, Collins.
  • Cohen, J., Ed. (1995). Picasso: Inside the Image. London, Thames & Hudson.
    Coppel, S. (1998). Picasso and Printmaking in Paris. London, South Bank Publishing.
  • Cowling, E., N. Cox, S. Fraquelli, S. G. Galassi, C. Rigpelle and A. Robbins (2009). Picasso: Challenging the Past. London, National Gallery Pubications.
  • Eik Kahng, Charles Palermo, Harry Cooper, Annie Bourneuf, Christine Poggi, Claire Barry and B. J.C.Devolder (2011). Picasso and Braque: The Cubist Experiment 1910-1912. Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
  • Picasso (1980). Picasso: Lithographs. Toronto, Dover Publications.
  • Picasso (1981). Picasso: Line Drawings and Prints. Toronto, Dover Publications.
  • T.J.Clark (2013). Picasso and Truth: from Cubism to Guernica. Princeton and Oxford, Princeton University Press.

Picasso as artist

Picasso’s life and evolution of his style from:

    • Highly accomplished figurative drawings and paintings from boyhood to late teens
    • Blue period (1901–1904) influenced by the suicide of his close friend Carlos Casagemas
    • Rose period (1904–1906) during his early marriage and relationship
    • African influence (1907–1909), notably Les Demoiselles d’Avignon as a sudden leap to abstraction (see also Wikipedia overview of images from, this period)
    • Analytic cubism (1909–1912)
    • Synthetic Cubism (1912–1919), also referred to as the Crystal period.
    • Neoclassicism and surrealism (1919–1929)
    • The Great Depression to MoMA exhibition: 1930–1939 – the period of Guernica, his 1932 paintings of Marie-Thérèse Walter and the Vollard Suite etchings
    • Later works to final years: 1949–1973 combined elements of his earlier styles

    Overview: BBC Modern Masters Series by  Alastair Sooke

    Gives an overview of Picasso’s life and art and the way they influenced each other, and the influences that Picasso’s art still has for us today.

    Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, MoMA

    A detailed discussion of the origins and meaning of this painting.

    Exhibition Review: Exhibition Review : Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy at the Tate Modern 2018

    The Exhibition focuses on his numerous paintings in the one year of 1932, influenced by his relationship with Marie-Thérèse Walter. See catalogue:

    Borchardt-Hume, A. and N. Ireson, Eds. (2018). Picasso 1932: The EY Exhibition. London, Tate Publishing.

    Girl before a Mirror

    Discussion by a teacher of the ways in which the meanings of this painting are seen and explained to children.

    Picasso portraits at the National Gallery

    Looks in particular at multiple viewpoints and cubism.

    Guernica and attitudes to politics

    Picasso’s last paintings are very poignant, but not well received.

    Google Picasso drawings

    Picasso as printmaker

    Picasso (1881–1973)  made prints throughout his career – over 2,500 principally in etching, lithography and linocut, but also monoprints.

    Google Picasso monoprints

    Google Picasso lithograph

    The Vollard Suite at the British Museum (etchings)

  • Google Picasso etching

    Linocuts

    Invention of the reduction linocut

    His earliest linocut is from 1939, but his major period of working in this medium was from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s. During this time the artist resided mainly in the south of France, far removed from his collaborative involvement with the master printers in Paris where he had made his etchings and lithographs in the 1930s and 40s. He began by producing linocut posters for ceramic exhibitions and bullfighting events in Vallauris with the talented local printer Hidalgo Arnéra.

    Within a very short time Picasso was finding new ways of producing colour linocuts which dispensed with the orthodox method of cutting a separate block of linoleum for each colour.  He devised a method of progressively cutting and printing from a single block that required him to foresee the final result, as once he had gouged away the linoleum surface he could not go back.

    Linocuts Exhibition British Museum exhibition: 10 January – 6 May 2014

     Still Life under the Lamp (1962) depicts a still life of apples next to a glass goblet, brightly illuminated under a lampshade at night. The BM exhibition shows nine stages, beginning with a blank tabula rasa, Picasso progressively cut and printed the single block, gradually building the image with increasing complexity. At each stage the viewer sees an image that would appear finished but Picasso goes further, pursuing it to its final form. (See Google images)

    Jacqueline Reading (1962) a series consisting of four progressive proofs for a monochrome subject, Jacqueline Reading, Picasso’s second wife Jacqueline Roque with whom he lived in the last years of his life. She is posed reading, one hand held to her face and eyes cast down, locked in an interior world. For this print Picasso used two blocks. In the first block he scratched the surface with a stiff comb to describe the form of Jacqueline’s head and bust in tonal terms. A second block was cut with gouges to leave just her outline. Then the print from the second block was superimposed over the first to achieve the final image. (See Google images)

  • Other linocuts: Google Picasso linocut ;
  •  before the lance avant la pique 1959 1
  • Deux femmes près de la fenêtre, 1959
  • Danseurvet musicien  
  • Les Banderilles Like Cretan. Like the composition. How about the background?.
  • Trois femmes 1959
  • le vase de fleurs  
  • tete de femme de profil

Picasso lithographs: Google images

Picasso drypoint : Google Images

Painting technique: Cubist

MoMA painting techniques series has an interesting overview of how to draw multiple perspectives.