Welcome back to my new weekly blog, as promised this discussion nods affectionately from a distance to the letter B.
One of the aspects of any real world art criticism is when folks say “I could have done that” or “my child could do that” despite the obvious fact that until it was done they didn’t have a clue what ‘that’ was about and, more likely, they still bloody couldn’t cause they haven’t got the intent, wit or chutzpah (is that the correct spelling?) to do anything of the sort.
One of the most entertaining of current living artists is Martin Creed (link). He is also in a band, not that he enjoys that according to the great interview he did with Paul Morley just that he needed music for stuff so had to be in a band. I think he spends most of his interviews with tongue firmly in cheek if not mentally flicking the V’s at the questions being asked.
In a retrospective of his work around 10 years ago, one of his more outrageous pieces, “Work No. 79 (all his work is numbered) Some Blu-Tack kneaded, rolled into a ball, and depressed against a wall”, was causing great concern to the curator about how to show the work.
The curator and his assistant were umming and arring about the power of the work and how it should be best seen here, no here, how about here? Martin walked in, took the work and pressed it against a wall in the most matter of fact way and the sycophants just purred with appreciation that the artistic genius was just right.
In one of my few pieces of homage to works of art, I think of this exchange pretty much every time I slap a bit of blu-tack on a wall.
While celebrating the living British artist, let’s all thank the universe for the life and work of David Hockney, now the living artist that holds the record for the most expensive artwork in the world (take that Koons and your balloon dog – Link) and has also featured in the news recently as his childhood home goes up for sale, but I think one of my fave pieces by Hockney is ‘A Bigger Splash’
I have read, or have the memory of reading, that Hockney says that A bigger splash is a discussion of blue, many of his LA works can be seen with the idea that he is trying to capture water, light and blueness.
Blue had always been an expensive and rare colour for artists, a quality blog at mymodernmet (link) suggests that Michelangelo’s The Entombment was left unfinished as he couldn’t afford the ultramarine paint he required to finish it.
Colour and our understanding of it seems to have a cultural linguistic base, a splendid Horizon (BBC Science programme) called Do You See What I See? that discussed exactly this, a shortened version of a bit of this can be seen here:
and I’m sure we all had rows/discussions about what colour that damn dress was…
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45522095
Other fabulous blues include Picasso’s Blue period which may or may not have been because he had a job lot blue paint that needed using up. The Great Wave Off Kanagawa by Hokusai (only produced in 1830ish dontcha know) and Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh (not least because of it’s Dr. Who links). What’s your go-to-blue in an artistic sense?
And finally ‘Blew’, much art demands appreciation but rarely does a work make you physically gasp, to blow you away. The giant version of Warhol’s Chairman Mao (Link) in the old GLC building caused me to gasp as did Discovery of America… by Dali (link) in the St. Petersberg museum devoted to him but the most breathtaking experience I have had with art was at the Museo Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid where they house Picasso’s Guernica (Link)
The work itself is stunning, amazing in its gut wrenching affect but at the Sofia they have a room joined to the display room that shows Picasso’s evolution of the work and some history surrounding the event too. I was there on the 24th October 2002 and I wanna go back… constantly.
So give me some Blues and some Blew for you, I have enough Blu Tack here currently so any discussion of Martin Creed’s other work such as Lights go on, Lights go off welcome here too.
Thanks for reading, your pal, Gary B’stard