I hadn’t know much about this artist before visiting the exhibition.
The first room entered was of sculpture and particularly sculptured heads from his very early work at 14 years of age through to late works. They were displayed in rows on plinths, in the centre of the room, chronologically. It was a fabulous way of showing the growth and experimentation that the artist went through to reach the style that is now associated with him. The early heads being very traditional in style, the middle very experimental with a lot of different styles and the final few rows of slim tall heads very similar be constantly being refined. Apparently he was never satisfied with his work.
Room 2 displayed work from the 1920s when the artist was exploring conceptual sculpture. I found some of these fun and some slightly disturbing/surreal. Making little sketches as I stroll around, one of these being of Point to the eye made in 1931. Quiet an odd little sculpture of a figure represented only by a scull like head and rib cage mounted on a pin on a rectangular base with a large bone like rib shape balanced on a pin with the sharp end literally pointing to the eye of the skull.
Another room was filled with decorative objects that he had made in order to earn a living including work that he made during is period of being involved with surrealism.
Room 4 contained some of his larger pieces.
Room 5 contained work he had done whilst visiting his mother during the war in Switzerland. He had been unable to return to France and therefore found he had to work with limited material and space. These sculpture were tiny…..really tiny. Quite beautiful with enough detail for recognition of the human quality but not so much as to be fully descriptive of the shape.
Following on from here were the tall slim figures that everyone associates with this artist. I had not thought much of these when seen in books or online but standing in front of them they hooked me completely. There is something very peaceful about them, and the taller and thinner they became the more I found them fascinating.
The Four Standing Women above at first I interpreted as a family, then it could easily be four trees, there was another with more figures that was entitled The Glade.
I stopped a while to sketch one of The Eight Egyptian Women.
There were few paintings in the exhibition and I was surprised at how dark they were, almost devoid of colour despite being portraits.
This exhibition had only a few and all either of his brother, Diego or his wife. These two subjects he painted and sculpted again and again, not seeing any reason to use different models. At first glance I thought they were drawings. His painting style being very linear, with hundreds of fine brushed lines searching for the shape.
This sculpture is entitled Falling Man. Elongated Limbs, feet and body and tiny head. The artist is quoted in the exhibition notes when talking of these figures “I wanted to hold on to a certain height, and they became narrow…The more I wanted to make them broader, the narrower they got.” They were originally exhibited in 1948 and were thought to be a powerful image of humanity,.. a generation traumatised by war.
Looking at them now …words that came to my mind were.., peaceful, quiet, calm, and gentle, interesting what difference time makes.
Today I visited The Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. I deliberately sought out texture in paintings as I was on this part of the module.
This had a very fine texture to the canvas and looking closely the paint had been applied with a kind of dry brush technique over this texture with gave the lovely softness to the scene, no hard edges, definition achieve with colour not line.
This was painted wood panel, which I hadn’t seen before with tiny boats strategically placed to look like they are on the water.
One of my favourite paintings in the Exhibition, oil, acrylic, liquid leaf metal, photographic trace on prepared tarpaulin. Texture and unusual ground gave amazing life to the painting, close up it was lovely but the fullest effect was from the other side of the gallery. The size of the painting really emphasised the subject.
Although no texture involved here, I was drawn to these because of the colours. they manage to look Chinese, even though there is not actual representation of anything, the strokes and shapes somehow make you feel that your seeing something.
An acrylic painting, unfortunately my photograph doesn’t show the texture very well, but I found it very calm to look at and soft colours. What drew me to it also was the realisation that the application of the paint being so free and not trying to portray anything particular, which is something I need to start working more on myself. There is a fine pink circle which I felt crucial to the painting, I felt it wouldn’t have had the same emphasis without that small line.
Encaustic wax on linen and collage. A lot of texture, holes and collage.
This was my favourite. Very clever use of oil on linen. There was splashing, dripping and some areas of dragging of comb like shapes and a perfect straight line. This landscape was not a landscape but appeared to be one. Close up its a series of splashes and shapes. I wondered if the artist had had an view in mind or was representing one she knew or was it created as it grew. I’d love to have been able to find out the process. The lime green diagonal line appears like a road with maybe traffic creating the light. A town one side and fields and landscape the other.
I made a note of this paintings as it was done in oils and yet looks watercolour, showing how you can use the right solvent and achieve a very loose drippy oil work.
A work done on plaster and therefore gouged and scratched, a very simple shading and four main lines that gave it a plane and vague appearance of a scene.
Made with oil and pigment. I assume that the pigment was sprinkled after the carved or scratched lines which emphasises their edges, making them stand out more.
Made in silicone and fibreglass this is huge and horrifying.
This was texture to the max. Acrylic, charcoal, emulsion and oil on canvas. Huge painting, incredible depth of paint. Unfortunately I don’t know the translation of the title but this appears to be a reflection in water, until you step right back and there is an artists palette in the top of the work. I tried to get a close up showing the depth of the paint and the cracking, but unfortunately its blurred.
The exhibition has over 1,000 works, professional artists next to amateur and is inspiration from that point but absolutely exhausting to walk round and I am glad that I took a particular focus. To try and see everything would have taken hours.
Reflection at point of submission: Looking at this visit again I realise how much the variety of work impressed upon me. I had been looking at texture and the Anselm Keifer piece must have stayed with me, the close colours and thick texture did come to the fore with my final assignment.
Find out what you can about the Abstract Expressionists and, in particular, the style of painting called Tachism or ‘Action Painting”. Look at the work of those artists who developed this style of spontaneous expressive painting which worked by the artist making large gestures and exploiting accidental effects. Look at the work and ideas of Hans Hartung, Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock amongst others.
Having looked at Jackson Pollocks paintings for the last exercise I looked further into the artist, discovering that he was steered towards drawing and ultimately painting by an analyst he was seeing to treat his alcoholism. This really explains the ‘action’ nature of his work as a form of venting his feelings and how this lead to him developing his style, which was considered radical at the time.
He is known also for listening to Jazz whilst painting and you can see the rhythmic flow in the painting above.
Abstract expressionism is the overall name given to work produced by American painters such as Jackson Pollock, in the 1940s and 50s. These paintings are made with abstract marks, gestural brush-strokes often made to convey feelings but not actual scenes or ‘things’. The artists are hoping that viewer will be able to feel the emotions conveyed in the brush strokes.
Quotes from two of these artists may help to explain the genre.
“The painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through”.…..Jackson Pollock
“I paint not the things I see but the feelings they arouse in me” …..Franz Kline
Franz Kline 1910-1962
There is an incredible difference in this artists work over a period of just four years, when he met William De Kooning. Franz Kline became most well known for his large, gestural black and white action paintings. This “Figure of Eight” looks as if achieved with sweeping marks using a large brush mostly. However, it is difficult to see if the black went on first or last there seems some overpainting in certain areas.
Looking at this photo of the artist in his studio, it can be appreciated just how huge his paintings were and the whole gestural/action painting takes on a new light. These must have taken quite a physical effort to produce.
Hans Hartung was a German-French painter, known for his gestural abstract style.
The two works above showing the main type os gestural strokes that I found in his works, multiple strokes in mainly one direction. The painting on the left was made in a vinyl medium, scratched into whilst still wet and resembles human hair, although the artist is said to have rejected observation as a starting point for his works. The second is a lithograph of a work made earlier than the first, it is difficult to tell but looks like black ink.
Tachisme is described on the Tate website as “non-geometric abstract art that developed in Europe in the 1940s and 1950s characterized by spontaneous brushwork, drips and scribble-like marks”. So the European version of Abstract Expressionism.
Around the Blues
Oil and acrylic on canvas.
Really soft blue and pink and yellow organic shapes. There is some dribbling of the paint too. This has a very gentle feel to me unlike some of the other expressionist work I’ve looked at, softer edges and no violent strong strokes.
Willem de Kooning1952. Oil on canvas
Willem de Kooning was a dutch born American painter at the time of Jackson Pollock, an abstract expressionist. His work, however, merged abstraction and representation. The picture above is entitled Woman 1. The woman is seated but there is no chair she appears to be merged with the background the brushstrokes outline her but also become the background. I find this a rather aggressive portrayal of a woman, the brush strokes appear fierce scrubbed. The face is hard and I cannot work out if she is sneering or wide eyed with fright. It is not a comfortable view.
Research point : Look at a range of painting with particular attention to the way the paint has been applied. For example, look at the paintings of Monet, Pissarro, Cezanne, Van Gogh and the Expressionist painters. Look at some twentieth-century pastel paintings and make notes about the range of effects you find.
My first thought was how I would be able to view the works closely enough on line, so I headed to the Google cultural institute on line. This site quite often zooms right in to the paintings.
This first link takes you to Les Bateaux Ammares by Van Gogh. Not a painting I’d seen before we are so used to the usual pieces by Van Gogh it was nice to find something different. Although there are some of his staccato style of short strokes around the water under the boats it is not as obvious as in say, The Starry Night, which was painted a year later. The paint is applied very thickly and in parallel strokes and the objects and figures are outlined in a darker colour for emphasis. The paint is not so thick in this Van Gogh that you cant see the texture of the canvas in some places.
Grainstacks at Giverny inthe Evening Sun by Monet is the next link.
This has such beautiful soft colours, each layered on top of each other which gives an all over first impression of one colour and it is not until you look closer that you can see all the different colours used. The top most layer looks thick and as if applied with a dry brush technique as one can see the colours below in the gaps left as the brush moved over the paint underneath.
Muse on Pegasus by Odilon Redon
The most beautiful amount of different colours all in one painting. I believe there is a light ground of maybe more than one colour and then more colour added in patches and daubs and using different size brushes. there also seems to be some colour applied quite dry and some of he larger areas more fluid/wet.
The Sheep by Franz Marc. Zooming in with the tools on Google Cultural Institues site I find this pain quite thinly applied, to the point in some areas where the canvas clearly shows through. The white of the canvas has been used as an aid to blending and giving shape to the curves in the painting.
Portrait of Jeanne Hebuterne byAmedeo Modigliani. Looking closely at this painting there are quite clear areas of no paint at all. Not only is the figure outlined in a very fine line of black paint, but there areas highlighted by leaving the canvas blank such as the area at then end of the blue part of her dress and where the arms enter the sleeves. The walls have areas of different colours scumbled together but there are no particularly heavy applications here.
Alain Leroy Locke by Winold Reissc. 1925
Interesting portrait done in pastel on board of an influential writer and philosoper of his time. The pastels are applied in light cross hatching strokes which gradually build up the form. The first layers appear blended and then the uppermost are left as drawn. The fact that only the face and hand have any colour makes them so much more important here.
Two beautiful figures by Edward Degas and Paula Rego, both executed in pastels. There is a luminous quality about both of these figures and it seems that pastel is almost as much about what shows through as about the strokes laid down. The Degas has so many colours when viewed closely but theire interaction from a distance makes the shape of the figure. The Rego has a consistant grey throughout, this may be done on a grey pastel mat, even the skin retains that grey.
Stumbling around on Pinterest yesterday evening I came across this artist… loved her work immediately.
She was a British artist noted for her portraiture of street children in Glasgow and for her landscapes of the fishing village of Catterline and surroundings on the North-East coast of Scotland. Her landscapes were what attracted me first as obviously this is what I am looking at right now. However her portraits of the street children put me in mind of the work of Marlene Dumas, whose exhibition I visited as one of the first I attended with OCA. Both produce haunting faces, hard to forget as they seem to look out at the viewer from behind masks, quite unsettling.
The landscapes attract me because of the energy of the mark making in very thick paint which gives texture to each scene.
This has a feel of sitting in the field as if peering up through the grasses, it feels wind swept, the brush strokes heading in all different directions. There are just one or two details of the grass shapes, just on the surface layer it appears, these are enough to conjure up the whole field. I understand from reading about her, that she like to paint actually in situ, she must have had to revisit a view many times as these are oils and the drying takes time, but they have dried between layers as you can see the drier brush strokes not blending with the colours underneath.
Wonderful winter view, the deep grey of the sky, threatening more snow. From what I can see in this screen image it looks as though the paint has been scratched into as well as being applied very thickly. The row of houses look as if they are sliding down the hill, perspectively incorrect by this adds to the atmosphere of the scene. The limited colours used do give a sense of the cold, the greys, cold/icy blue and just enough brown to give a sense of the earth, frozen and colourless from little light.
Visited this exhibition at The Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne this morning. My intent to research Eric Ravilious as he is one of my local artists, who grew up in East Sussex and many of his works depict local areas.
The exhibition focussed on a group of artists and designers from 1922 – 1942. The central artist being Eric Ravilious who had professional relationships and friendships and working collaborations with artists such as John Nash and Paul Nash. and many others exhibited. Reading the information, these artists had worked with each other and successfully networked and pushed to help each other succeed in commercial fields using their work for print, fabrics, book illustration and design.
The first room had a Paul Nash and an Eric Ravilious hanging side by side, which made for interesting comparison.
These are not great photos, but standing with the two pictures together my first thoughts were the similarity in mark making. They felt very masculine, the marks very firm and regular, precise, draughtsman like. The colours the same, muted shades. On closer inspection however the Paul Nash had been done 12 years before the Ravilious.
Moving to the next room there were many cabinets containing print work and delightful open sketchbooks from several female artists associated with the group. This is from the sketchbook of Peggy Angus. It appealed not only as it was little scenes of every day life, but also as they are very much of an age, so the clothing and colours so different to today. Delicate drawings with pencil annotation.
There were also many woodcut prints by Eric Ravilious and others. This is an art I was not so familiar with however looking at the prints and some of the original blocks I could see where the linear shading for his paintings linked.
His wife was also an artist, Tirzah Garwood, and I was particularly taken by her work, as although amongst this group of artists, she had maintained her own personality and her work stood out as being similar, due to technique, but retaining its own style.
Here a set of woodcut prints, each one having a gentle sense of humour, depicting everyday but with a smile, such as the lady who’s fallen asleep in her chair whilst reading a book.
Through the rest of the rooms the groups work became more similar. The paintings mainly in muted palettes. The printed paper designs, geometric shapes mainly in one or two colours or two tones of one colour with black.
Eric Ravilious’s painting used line even when illustrating the curves of hills, and the clouds in scenery. At the end of this exhibit I felt perhaps I was looking more at an illustrator than an emotional painter. I felt he was drawing with the paint but I did not get a sense of any feelings or passion about what he was interpreting. Perhaps an artist very much of his time in terms of the British stiff upper lip, no emotional display!
In an oxfam shop I picked up and purchased two books which took my eye. One was actually an exhibition catalogue of work by Richard Diebenkorn, an artist whose name I knew, but about whose work I knew nothing. The exhibition had been in 1991 at The Whitechapel gallery, London.
The second is a book on work by an artist, called Antoni Tapies.
Richard Diebenkorn 1922-1993, and american artist identified as an abstract expressionist. Flicking through the plates in the catalogue I was particularly attracted to the series of paintings titled “Ocean Park”. One of these paintings is on the cover of the book. I took a quick look on the internet to find a little more about the artist.
Below are two of his landscape works, the first painted in 1955 entitled Berkeley “57 and the second is on of the Ocean Park series no 54. This series is painted in the seventies.
They are abstract landscapes and in order to try and understand how he came to these I looked on the internet at actual photographs of the areas. Berkley is a hillier and greener area of the USA, ocean Park California is vast spread out sun kissed and flat.
The colours in the paintings and the shapes portray the feel of the places, Ocean Park paintings in particular have an atmosphere of calm, I get this from the colours and the large flat shapes. There is nothing busy here at all, which is the vibe California gives off. I have driven through this state and the enormous spaces, fields that go on for ever are so different to someone from England who is used to neat rolling green fields. I feel as if these paintings also have a certain aerial view quality, as if the artist is looking down from above.
I notice that there appears to be overpainting of original layouts, but these are not done in order to coverup as they are clearly visible. There are also some line that are ruled in some of the paintings, perhaps in a pen of some sort they are too crisp surely to be paint.
Having looked at this work I was inspired to go off and riff a while in my sketchbook.
Having in mind my garden from the side and from above.
Here I just played with colour and line
Here I thought about my last exercise and some doodling that I had been doing using the diamond shape from my leaded light windows
I changed to watercolour pencils in a small sketchbook contemplating wet beaches.
With regard to the Tapies works, I only skimmed the book at this stage, I found it maybe a step too far for my understanding. I will return to it at a later date.
Richard Diebenkorn. (1991). 1st ed. Whitechapel.
Tàpies, A. (2005). Works on paper & sculpture. 1st ed. London: Waddington Galleries.
Research the Golden Mean/Golden Ratio and its applications to artistic composition. Don’t get bogged down in the maths of this.Find out also about ‘the rule of thirds’ in landscape.Look on the internet and find some examples of landscape paintings that exemplify these compositional principles.
I read and watched many explanations of the Golden Mean/Ratio on-line and many seem to concentrate on the maths of this phenomenon rather than its application. The ratio is 1:1.618, and this number applies to the difference between the proportions of the ‘golden rectangle, image representing this below. These proportions have for centuries been recognised as the most appealing to the eye. This ratio appears everywhere in nature, in art, in design, in music and in the human body therefore it would appear that it is natural for us to be more drawn to art that contains these proportional relationships.
The ratio of the whole line (A) to the large segment (B)
is the same as
the ratio of the large segment (B) to the small segment (C).
In other words, A is to B as B is to C.
This occurs only where A is 1.618 … times B and B is 1.618 … times C.
This is taken from https://www.goldennumber.net/golden-section/
Out of interest I tried to overlay a Golden Rectangle on my most recent landscape exercise using Photoshop. The proportions of the painting aren’t a fit however I do seem to have got close without realising, luck obviously, however this raises the question in my mind ….do artists actually think about this consciously when starting a painting? They may not, but the results are more pleasing if they fit this law. Are all commercial canvases and sketchbooks in this proportion? A4 paper is not, I just looked, its 1:1.41. But then again its not about the size of the canvas is it? Its about the proportions of the image within that catch the viewers eye.
Examples from the internet
Dali’s painting is actually done within a golden rectangle. The positions of the disciples on either side being at the position of the golden sections, and the table is at the golden section of the height of the painting.
The Rule of thirds is for me easier to understand, having learnt this one initially for photography. The example below demonstrating it nicely. Dividing the area equally with two horizontal and two vertical lines, placing the interest at the junction points and not dead centre makes for a more dynamic image.
An example of its use using Dali again….
For this research point we are asked to:
Surrealist painters did not just use the elements of landscape from nature, but also from the subconscious mind/the imagination.
The swans on the lake become elephants in the reflection in the lake and the tree trunks the elephants legs. The bends of the swans necks/elephants trunks are echoed in the branches of the trees. The lake is much richer in colour which seems to emphasise its stillness. The scene feels very dry despite there being water, I think this is achieved by the difference in the colour in the water as opposed to the rocks and desert behind. I am not quite sure about the water’s edge the whole bottom half of the painting is at first glance,the lake, but logically it can’t be. This adds to the jarring effect of the painting. The clouds are figure-like and yet the rocks seem very realistic.
This painting by Max Ernst, was created using Frottage (rubbing) over objects to create the dark and forbidding forest. Not being able to see the real painting I am left wondering if the Frottage areas are collaged over the top of the blue sky and it appears that there is an element of separation. The bird does appear trapped and frightened amongst the dark trees. I don’t think we can get the full effect of a painting like this on the computer screen, to fully appreciate the textures you would need to be up close to the actual work.
The title means Dead Sea. Apparently this was taken from photographs that the artist took at a dump of wrecked aircraft at Cowley in Oxfordshire. The colours in between the wings and pieces of twisted metal are sea like, and the points evoke crests of waves. The whole sea is a symbol of the end of life the wrecked war planes seemingly crashing against a shore, bringing to mind add that could have gone before this point. The shape of the sea as a whole forming a triangular point which also alludes to a wing of a plane. The colours are muted, soft and cold as is the sky above the scene.
Graham Sutherland’s painting above is his reaction to the streets in the East End of London after the London Blitz. Very limited palette and large areas of black adding weight to the gloom of the scene and forcing us to focus on the devastated buildings. The building remains are painted in a sickly yellow/ochre which I feel adds to the grimness and highlights the sad areas, empty where once there were families, as if spot lit.
There are a lot of different kind of marks over the painting as if the artist were searching for ways to express his feelings about he scene, these also serve to make us look around the picture.
Three landscape works above by Gustav Klimt. I had only known this artist for his figurative work up to this point, they are highly decorative/decorated portraits, mainly of women. Looking at his landscape work, I am struck by how much detail/colour there is, in fact so much that the landscapes actually be come a pattern themselves as in the picture top left of the tree trunks. Lots of spots of colour, almost pointillist in style. The picture of the houses on the edge of the lake has lots of colour on each object, no flat one colour surface, the whole thing tied by a blue hue. The trees in the third picture completely dominate the building at the end of the drive.
Looking at these five artists brings the realisation that there are so many ways to interpret a landscape, other than in a literal sense.