Categories
Art and Photographic History Penwith West Cornwall (and local history)

The Discrete Charm of Temporary Huts

Two schoolmasters sat shredding their gowns in the late afternoon in the hut and during the urbane conversation fed the torn off pieces into the gap at the top of the stove. In such a manner, a little more warmth was afforded to extend their discourse for another few minutes. Their talk was conducted with epigrams in various European languages and spiced with the odd Latin tag. The stove added to the convivial ambience and the prevailing gemutlichkeit.

Let us move on from this staffroom tale, occasioned as it was by a copy I had made of some features of a well-known painting by Braque. Here it is:-

Here is the small sketch that I made several years ago:-

The painting with its lovely colours may be found in Yale University Art Gallery and is discussed at https://artgallery.yale.edu/collections/objects/50855

I wondered why this painting held my interest and began to recall that a good number of my lessons at Grammar School were delivered in the damp but sometimes warm and cosy Temporary Huts. In my memory these seem to have been in the late afternoon and within the sound of the games field outside. One of these was the so-called Prefect’s Hut which I cannot ever remember actually entering. A good deal of R.E. seems to have taken place in such huts which were on raised piles of concrete blocks. There may have been a coloured oil map of Paul’s Journeys or the Middle East on a roller above the blackboard. Then there was German that I was supposed to be cramming for Oxbridge Entrance. All of which was rather a failure although I was quite interested in Scientific Terms like Bremstrahlung-(German: “braking radiation”; electromagnetic radiation produced by a sudden slowing down or deflection of charged particles (especially electrons) passing through matter in the vicinity of the strong electric fields of atomic nuclei. Nowadays my German has somewhat improved and in particular psychoanalytic words like durcharbeiten hold greater appeal.

In recalling particular lessons in cosy atmospheres, one in particular springs to mind taught my my own Form Master- a retired Wing Commander who had an intriguing time in Special Operations and would frequently preface remarks with “As my old friend, Bill Penny used to say…….” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Penney,_Baron_Penney Anyway, this lesson was an attempt to demonstrate measuring the acceleration due to gravity. It involved a swinging lath on a pin supported by a retort stand and a falling lead ball which left a mark on said lath when released using a string mechanism. A pipe smoker and hence possessing a lighter to burn through the thread, his use of the rather ersatz apparatus combined the master’s cricketing interests effectively. It produced a reasonable estimate of “g”.in those days in centimetre- gram-second units and we proceeded to consider some of the sources of error in the value we obtained.

Humphry Davy Grammar School, pre 1980 | Picture Penzance archives

The huts may be seen in the bottom left hand corner of the pre 1980 view of my Grammar School. Whilst not actually Nissen Huts these rather shabby buildings brought to mind the many black and white Second World War films that were much in vogue in the Sixties.

Categories
Art and Photographic History Art Exhibition Reviews Poetry

Thoughts about René Magritte – The blank signature, 1965

May be an image of 1 person, horse, tree and outdoors

I don’t understand why I like this painting so much on first glance. The most disturbing element, I suppose is the strip where the horse has simply disappeared giving it the appearance of being a light transparent trunk itself. This, I think adds a joking quality to the overall work which I find a kind of magical forest. The sort that you might well find in a fairy tale or an adventure. The rider does not seem discombobulated by this wooded environment. Indeed she seems to have a sense of purpose and direction quite at variance to the seeming dissolution of her means of transport beneath her. The colours or palette seem to add to a jolly effect and the canopy of branches seems protective.

Categories
Art and Photographic History Art Exhibition Reviews Literature Poetry

The Charming Paintings of Pietro Antonio Rotari(1707-1762)

Next to my laptop propped against the now never used printer is a postcard which I bought at the remarkable Musée JacquemartAndré. This lovely gallery is grandly situated in the Boulevard Haussman in the 8th Arrondissment (huitieme). The postcard shows what a Scotsman might have called a fair bonny lassie.

Pietro Rotari

This Italian Baroque painter was born in Verona and died in St Petersburg. His paintings are remarkable for both their astonishing beauty but also for their realism as can be judged from the following clip.

Looking at these lovely paintings gives me the same feeling as reading this-

BY PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory—
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the belovèd’s bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.

Categories
Art and Photographic History Literature Poetry

Housman on The First of May

THE FIRST. O F ΜΑΥ

The orchards half the way
From home to Ludlow fair
Flowered on the first of May
In Mays when I was there;
And seen from stile or turning
The plume of smoke would show
Where fires were burning
That went out long ago.

The plum broke forth in green,
The pear stood high and snowed,
My friends and I between
Would take the Ludlow road;
Dressed to the nines and drinking
And light in heart and limb,
And each chap thinking
The fair was held for him.

Between the trees in flower
New friends at fairtime tread
The way where Ludlow tower
Stands planted on the dead.
Our thoughts, a long while after,
They think, our words they say;
Theirs now’s the laughter,
The fair, the first of May.

Ay, yonder lads are yet
The fools that we were then;
For oh, the sons we get
Are still the sons of men.
The sumless tale of sorrow
Is all unrolled in vain:
May comes to-morrow
And Ludlow fair again.

A.E.Housman

See also https://hokku.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/till-ludlow-tower-is-down-housmans-recruit/

knight, dame laura - Penzance Fair | Knight art, Art, Knight
Corpus Christi Fair by Dame Laura Knight


Categories
Art and Photographic History German Matters Literature Poetry

Fernsucht nach Berlin

Fernsucht ist das Gegenteil von Heimweh. Die Krankheit ist auch unter den Synonymen Fernweh, Reisefieber und Travel Bug bekannt.

With thanks to https://berlinischegalerie.de/en/berlinische-galerie/the-museum/
Categories
Art and Photographic History

Jacques Tissot’s sad mistress

Portrait of M.N.. Portrait of Mrs N..(Kathleen Newton). La Frileuse. by James J. J. Tissot, 1836-1902

“It is a work extreme delicacy yet great richness, of poetic quiet yet great emotion.” She is sad and shivering, indeed she is very unwell. The full story may be found at https://web.archive.org/web/20070928205059/http://www.williamweston.co.uk/pages/catalogues/single/766/25/1.html

This clip may give some idea of the range of Tissot’s oeuvre.

My personal response to Tissot

There are two factors which have drawn my attention to Tissot recently. Firstly, reading various books and articles by Julian Barnes, who is well versed in French Artists of the Nineteenth Century. Secondly there are particular paintings of his that are especially intriguing. Especially those that seem to show early relationships between the French and English in London. However, more importantly, I seem to remember small illustrated texts from Sunday School back in the 1950s whose subject matter were similar in style and content to those religious paintings that seem to have taken up much of Tissot’s time. Finally, there is of course the insight into the times that these Tissot paintings give.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Tissot

Categories
Art and Photographic History Film Literature

Solitude and Nostalgia-the paintings of Valentin Serov

As someone has commented on You Tube underneath the above, “Wonderful , soulful, expression of Imperial Russia from many aspects just before the Black Curtain of the war that aesthetically affects us into our era!” There are even colour photographs of that strange era in Russia before the Revolution that show the huge contrasts in wealth and also the peaceful landscape which is evoked like a distant Edwardian Summer. Serov died in 1911 having left behind masterpieces of portraiture including his own famous self-portrait. His style was realistic and is still much beloved by the Russian people.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentin_Serov

Russia in Original Photographs, 1860-1920 Paperback – 1 May 1983
by Marvin Lyons

I have just discovered this film which looks good too-

Nostalgia [DVD]

Finally there is an excellent paper, well worth thorough consideration by Stacey Novack called “The Politics of Nostalgia” at https://publicseminar.org/2016/11/the-politics-of-nostalgia/

Categories
Art and Photographic History Penwith

Ponderings on Nostalgia in paintings

Clearly, that which we personally find nostalgic, pertains to ourselves alone but are there paintings which evoke in general this kind of mood state in the viewer? One painting which possibly does is this Matisse. It is discussed in detail on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luxe,_Calme_et_Volupt%C3%A9

Matisse-Luxe.jpg

The fact that the title comes from Baudelaire is partly evidence to this state of mind-

Là, tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté.

This lines are from a poem called L’Invitation au voyage and certainly the second stanza has a definite cosy feel to it even when google translated into English-

Shiny furniture,
Polished by the years,
Would decorate our room;
The rarest flowers
Mixing their smells
With the vague scents of amber,
The rich ceilings,
Deep mirrors,
Eastern splendor,
Everything would speak there
To the soul in secret
His sweet native language.

Returning to the painting itself, the colours invoke a sense of delicious and delicate luxury, as does the seaside setting and the recumbent nude figures. The sailing boat with its gaff rig beneath the boughs of the tree, which itself offers a protective quality, suggests that the shore may be quitted should ennui prove too troublesome.

On a personal level, my interest in this technique was stimulated by a term we did in the third year with our art teacher, Charlie Mac, when he suggested we paint using pointillist technique to give our work a more lively quality. We did some nice work from the end of the harbour pier in Penzance. However in the above m, Matisse was following the suggestions of Signac and creating a seminal work of Fauvism. The wild beasts are here in a somewhat pussycat or kittenish era even Louis Vauxcelles, who used the term, the following year in 1905 might grudgingly admit.

Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf and the power of sisterhood | Art UK

This portrait by Roger Fry of Virginia Woolf has I think a somewhat similar pointillist character. However, it evokes nostalgia because I can remember from childhood people dressing in warm woollen jumpers and staring pensively into the distance. This painting is on loan to Leeds Gallery from its owner.

Categories
Art and Photographic History Poetry

I Hear an Army by James Joyce


I hear an army charging upon the land,
And the thunder of horses plunging, foam about their knees;
Arrogant, in black armour, behind them stand,
Disdaining the reins, with fluttering whips, the charioteers.

They cry unto the night their battle-name:
I moan in sleep when I hear afar their whirling laughter.
They cleave the gloom of dreams, a blinding flame,
Clanging, clanging upon the heart as upon an anvil.

They come shaking in triumph their long, green hair:
They come out of the sea and run shouting by the shore
My heart, have you no wisdom thus to despair?
My love, my love, my love, why have you left me alone?

There is a discussion of this poem at-

https://poemanalysis.com/james-joyce/i-hear-an-army/

The painting above is Marine soir par LéonSpilliaert
Categories
Art and Photographic History Art Exhibition Reviews German Matters

LEO PUTZ (1869-1940) German painter

Just discovered this rather relaxing post by this superb anti-Nazi Austrian painter. The accompanying Chopin Nocturne adds to the ambience I find.

Leo Putz (18 June 1869, in Merano – 21 July 1940, in Merano)[1] was a Tyrolean painter. His work encompasses Art Nouveau, Impressionism and the beginnings of Expressionism. Figures, nudes and landscapes are his predominant subjects. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Putz

LEO-PUTZ-(1869-1940)-MODERNE-GALERIE-1909-41x31-inches-106x78-cm-Reichhold--Lang-Munich

1909 Exhibition in Munich