Thursday, 28 September 2017

Stepping into a Van Gogh

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to actually step into Van Gogh's world, inside one of his paintings, then here's your chance.

A full-length animated film has been made where every single frame is an oil painting in the style of Van Gogh, based on live action using real actors, and recreations of Van Gogh's paintings.

This superhuman endeavour used the talents of hundreds of artists working 12-13 hour days, in order to create 65,000 oil paintings to turn into film to tell the life of Vincent in paint. 

Take a look!   See a clip of the film here, and also here.


Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Philip Larkin's Photography

There was an interesting little programme on the BBC this week (available on i-Player HERE) called Through the Lens of Larkin.

(Photograph by Fay Godwin, 1970)

Philip Larkin, the Hull librarian, was, of course, most famous for his poetry (although I've never really connected with them myself, finding the rather predatory Larkin creepiness just too pervasive).  Whilst the five thousand photographs that he took - of everyday life, his female friends, and self-portraits taken with his Rolleiflex 10 second timer - were often very good, they were variable.  Sometimes they were just those of a holiday snapper.  Whilst there were flashes of insights, he certainly didn't have the genius in this medium of say, fellow amateur photographer Vivian Maier (compare her work HERE).  

Like Maier, Larkin's photos were found after his death, and weren't shown or exhibited.  For both, it was a pursuit to please themselves, unbound by any sort of conventions.  

Maier's working method was to take a trip to a rough part of Chicago (where she worked as a nanny) with her camera and a single roll of film, and take a whole film as a record of her journey.  Each frame is a masterpiece, often taken at very close quarters to subjects.  Hers is a female gaze.  She is the outsider looking on to other people's worlds, but they don't find her threatening or confrontational. She is bearing witness to their lives, and to her own through her self-portraits. For her, you get the sense that it is a kind of obsessional therapy, repeating the feeling that although she is within the world, she is detached, and that to take a photo is to reinvent herself.

Larkin's methodology is quite different in approach.  It is clearly a male gaze, and often about attachment, setting up coquettish photos of women who look down the lens at him. There are parades of women, and you are invited to think of the relationship between these women and Larkin.  What does the sum of all these parades of women gazing down the lens at Larkin say about him?  

The programme even meets Larkin's secretary and lover (how handy) Betty Mackereth, who was the subject of one of his most beautiful and ambiguous love poems, Morning At Last: There In The Snow.  She describes how, after many years together in a perfectly normal hum-drum office situation, he suddenly made his move on her.  Yikes.

However, it was still an interesting programme, especially as, most importantly of all, Larkin's photographs interact with his best output, his poetry.

View a clip of the programme HERE.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Dave Gilmour at the Royal Albert Hall, London

Here are some photos from Dave Gilmour's now-legendary series of gigs at the Royal Albert Hall in London.  These particular photos are from 28th September.  

Strongest on the old Pink Floyd material, and definitely a concert of two halves, this was nevertheless a not-to-be-missed occasion with stunning visuals.


Oh my goodness, who's this coming on stage?  Good grief, it's none other than  old Otterface himself, BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH.  To sing Comfortably Numb.  How utterly incredible!!  Woo-hooooooh!!!
 And he sounds AMAZING!!! Who knew he could sing??

(Actually, on returning home and listening to a Youtube recording, it turned out that my delusional ears may have heard him as pitch-perfect on the night, but he was in fact as flat as a proverbial pancake.  How weird is that??)

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Drawings at the Metropolitan Museum, New York

Now, yesterday, I posed the question of who drew three drawing.  This was the first...

And it was by....

Here's the second.

And it's by...

And lastly - and you may be detecting a theme here - this drawing... by...

Yes, Jack the Dripper himself, the man whom you wouldn't wish to invite round to your house if you had an open fireplace (ask Peggy Guggenheim), and the artist who went on to paint this, which hangs in the Met next to these drawings and is considered his masterpiece.

What I'm showing you here is that an artist does not immediately arrive at the technique or way of expressing themselves for which they are best known.  The drawings are shown in chronological order, and Pollock used them as a way of developing technique, exploring the language of art, getting to know how other artists have worked and observed natural forms, movement, the body, what it is to abstract.  

In other words, there is a huge body of work behind every artist, of learning and understanding and experimenting, of observations and coincidences, of making mistakes and building upon them.  This is work that isn't necessarily seen, but is vital to an artist in understanding themselves and their art.  Without it, they couldn't learn and grow, nor could they create what they ultimately feel best expresses themselves.

Pollock eventually arrived at his giant works of abstract expressionism through a whole host of influences, including childhood walks in the wilderness with his father, and seeing American Indian sand painters and Mexican muralists, which saw him moving away from painting with brushes and pencils on easels, to working on the floor with organic matter such as sticks, sand and even broken glass.  Which is about as far away from the Renaissance masters as you can get.  However, I guess what he took away from his earlier study of work by Michelangelo and so on, is the organic rhythm that they have within their compositions. Just take a look below at Leonardo's studies of water turbulence, for example.  Then look at the organic rhythmical lines of Pollock.

To know your own art, therefore, you need to understand the art of others.  And the most important thing my tutor at art school ever told me was 'Look'.

Read more about Jackson Pollock in this interesting Guardian article HERE.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Drawings at the Metropolitan Museum, New York - Who Drew These?

Whilst in New York recently , I took the chance to revisit the wonderful Metropolitan Museum, with its truly breathtaking collection of art and objects.

For a bit of fun, I've put together three drawings from the collection - using your skill and judgement (no googling!) see if you can guess which artists they are by.

Which Renaissance master is this by?

Which Modern master drew this?

Which Surrealist master is this by?

 Answers tomorrow!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Yestival: Yes at PNC Bank Center, Holmdel, 12 Aug 2017

Ok folks, you know the routine.  And tonight is the last gig of our three night Yestival concert series.

This is the very pretty open air amphitheater of the PNC Bank Center in sunny New Jersey.  It's all very civilised.  They have parking lots where you can have tailgate parties, and lawns where you can picnic, drink, and, er, smoke.  America knows how to do venues, and let's face it, they have the weather for it.

The weather this evening was hot.  It was so hot, that Carl Palmer's shirt stuck like a wet rag to his eternally youthful and perfectly formed torso, sweat plastered the hair of Jon to his forehead and threatened to make his glittery eyeshadow run, and the sweat ran in beads down Billy's face. All this I could see even from Row H.  It was that sweaty.

So here we go again.  Not so many photos tonight, but here's Young Person's Guide...

And there's also a rather bad video which I took of Survival.


He's blurry, He's sweaty.  He's glittery.

See also photos from Yes's Ford Amphitheater Coney Island performance on 11 August 2017 HERE.

Photos from their performance at Foxwoods, Connecticut on 10 August 2017 HERE.