Von Gogh, Goltzius, paintings exhibition


This is a French language video about an exhibition of Dutch and Flemish paintings and drawings. These works of art are not often seen in public, as they are in a private collection, the collection Piet de Boer. They are from the sixteenth century (Hendrick Goltzius) to the late nineteenth century (Vincent van Gogh).

Other artists represented include Cornelis Van Haarlem, Hendrick Avercamp, Jan van Goyen and Jacob de Gheyn. And Jan Brueghel the Elder, who cooperated with Peter Paul Rubens.

Until 8 March 2015, this exhibition was in Paris. Now, these 95 drawings and 20 paintings are exhibited in Amsterdam. At Herengracht 512. It will start tomorrow, and will be there for one month.

Endangered wildlife art exhibition in London


Amur tiger, by Katya Krasnaya

From Wildlife Extra:

International Fund for Animal Welfare supports endangered wildlife art exhibition

An exhibition entitled Exposed by St Petersburg artist Katya Krasnaya, is open to the public at the Erarta Galleries London.

The gallery is dedicated to showcasing the work of Russian contemporary artists, and this exhibition is one of pop art and graffiti-inspired paintings of endangered animals.

The artist has used spray-painting coupled with fine art techniques to create animal portraits include the rare Amur tiger, beluga whale, hawksbill sea turtle, rhino and polar bear.

Krasnaya says: “Almost everything inspires me. I divide my inspiration into types. The first one is natural, when you see all the shapes of our planet, from animals to hurricanes.”

The exhibition is supported by animal welfare charity, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which has projects in more than 40 countries and rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and campaigns for the protection of wildlife and habitats.

As well as a variety of ongoing projects in the UK, IFAW is currently also engaged with a number of important campaigns in Russia.

For example, it has been working with local partners to release six Amur tigers into the wild in forests in the far east of the country.

IFAW also runs the Orphan Bear Rescue Centre and carries out scientific observational research on critically endangered western gray whales and threatened beluga whales.

UK Director of IFAW, Philip Mansbridge, says: “We’re very pleased to be supporting the Exposed exhibition at Erarta Galleries, to raise awareness of endangered animals in Russia and worldwide.

“The pictures are a contemporary interpretation of some of the world’s most recognisable but vulnerable animals.

“I hope visitors will enjoy the striking images, and feel strongly about protecting the real animals in the wild, and their threatened habitats.”

The organisers of Exposed say the exhibition aims to bring particular focus to the ever-narrowing gap between rural and urban landscapes and habitats, and is a contemporary reaction to conservation in a constantly developing world.

The exhibition will run at the Erarta Galleries, Berkeley Street, Mayfair, London until 23 May 2015. For more details visit www.erartagalleries.com.

United States anti-war artist Leon Golub, London exhibition


This video from Chicago in the USA says about itself:

Leon Golub – Figuration and Monsters

15 July 2011

Artists Nick Cave, Leon Golub, Yun-Fei Ji, Kerry James Marshall, Ravinder Reddy, Clare Rojas, and Sylvia Sleigh talk about the human figure and artistic process in connection with their work on view in the Smart Museum of Art exhibition Go Figure. Learn more here.

By Christine Lindey in London, England:

Accusations from an atrocity exhibition

Saturday 11th April 2015

A retrospective of Leon Golub’s work is a disturbing indictment of US war crimes and torture, says CHRISTINE LINDEY

BORN in Chicago in 1922 to Lithuanian and Russian immigrants, Leon Golub (1922-2004) grew up in the shadow of WWI and the “great slump.”

His art studies were interrupted by military service in the second world war, from which he emerged to the unimaginable news of Buchenwald and Hiroshima. Whereas the dominant postwar US aesthetic ridiculed socially committed art and retreated into the inner worlds of Abstract Expressionism, Golub confronted the inhumanity of recent atrocities.

His deliberately inelegant provocations to genteel notions of art were underpinned by layered references to antiquity. After resuming his studies on a GI grant he painted monstrous hybrids and mutilated figures which emerge from roughly applied brush marks, an example being the larger than life size Colossal Torso II of 1959, whose shockingly charred and pitted flesh and truncated body evokes Hiroshima victims.

Yet the painting also refers to the fragmented colossuses of the late Roman empire, whose grandiose abuse of power Golub associated with that of 20th-century US imperialism.

The Vietnam war fully politicised him and in 1964 he became active in New York’s Artists and Writers Protest Group. Conflict became his subject and he searched for ways of making politically committed paintings relevant to modern times. Golub confronted the all-pervasive mass media’s visual language by working from published photographs and transforming these source images into unbearably emotive art by physically challenging the traditional processes and mediums of representational painting.

Working on unprimed, unevenly cut and unstretched canvases, Golub suspended the finished works loosely against the wall from grommets, so subverting the revered status of rectangularly framed paintings.

The figures in the large Gigantomachy series of the mid-1960s are based on contemporary sports photographs combined with images of the antique frieze at Pergamon which depicts the mythological battle between the Giants and Olympian Gods.

The unarmed, naked combatants are depicted on a roughly stained and blotched canvas in unpleasant combinations of purplish magenta, pink and white paint which Golub partially scraped off with a meat cleaver to deepen the impact of the combatants’ flayed flesh. The savagery of his processes paralleled his subjects’ indictment of warfare.

The Napalm and Vietnam War series which followed now referred to specific events and Golub attacked his canvases with greater savagery. With large chunks cut out of them, the scorched, scarred and splotched canvases mirror the violence of the depicted US army atrocities whose vileness are conveyed by deliberately awkward drawing, compositions and morose colour.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Golub produced his greatest works. These included the Mercenaries and Interrogators series — gigantic accusatory history paintings exposing US imperialist support of the odious counter-insurgency methods by Latin American dictatorships.

Intimidating, larger than life-size armed and uniformed soldiers and police are captured in acts of torture or military bravado as they loom over us.

Based on magazine photographs of mercenaries, the men in bright blue or green and buff uniforms are painted against flat undifferentiated red oxide or maroon backgrounds, so preventing distractions from the gruesome acts.

The men leer and grin grotesquely in awkward poses, as in a film still’s arrested motion, and their macho body language and callous expressions convey the dehumanising effects of alienation.

These paintings go beyond simple accusations of individual acts of cruelty. Like Goya’s Disasters of War they portray the perpetuators of brutal acts as desensitised products of inhumane governments whose purpose is to retain power for the powerful.

In his late paintings, Golub raged against the dystopia of urban decay, the horrors of ageing and impending death in graffiti influenced works, an example being Fuck Death of 1999.

His work is not for the faint-hearted. The visceral directness of his scenes of war and torture assault our gaze. Yet their rawness of expression is contradicted by the depth of meaning which percolates from his erudite understanding of art history, mass media and politics.

The paintings are intentionally difficult to look at and defy lengthy contemplation. In discussion with the artist Martha Rosler, Golub said: “Film passes through, painting sits on the wall. I take the fact that painting isn’t moving and I make it unendurable — you can’t sit in front of it. I myself have jumped at my own paintings.” Yet they burn with an honesty and directness which resonate long after seeing them because they cut to the core of political and social injustice.

Given the massive scale of Golub’s paintings and prolific output, a larger venue would have better suited this retrospective. The Serpentine Galleries’ exhibition over-represents his late works and omits loans from major public museums. But it does give very welcome exposure to this important artist and its display of four 1980s history paintings in the rotunda do him full justice as does the imaginative and beautifully produced catalogue. Recommended.

Leon Golub: Bite Your Tongue runs at Serpentine Galleries, Kensington Gardens, London W2 until May 17, opening times: serpentinegalleries.org. Free.

After banning miniskirts, Roman Catholics ban maxiskirts


This video says about itself:

Mini-skirt ban sparks underwear protest at Kaposvar University in Hungary – Andry Kolor

12 October 2013

Mini-skirt ban sparks underwear protest at Kaposvar University in Hungary. STUDENTS at a Hungarian university attended class wearing only their underwear to protest against a dress code ordered by the college head.

In a letter to students on Wednesday, the rector of Kaposvar University in southwest Hungary wrote that a conservative dress code – dark suits and shoes for men; jacket, blouse and trousers or long skirts for women – must be adhered to when attending classes or exams.

“From October 1, there is also no place in the university for mini-skirts, flip-flops, heavy make-up, inappropriate fashion accessories, or unkempt fingernails and hair,” the letter continued.

The rector did make an allowance for lighter clothing during warm summer days, prompting some students to make the underwear protest.

“We were appropriately dressed but the class room was so warm we removed some clothing as is permitted,” said one student.

The protestors included male and female students.

Students plan to wear flip-flops and beach towels at another protest on October 7.

Roman Catholic authorities have a long tradition of denying women the freedom to dress how they want. I remember I was in Rome, decades ago. Among my traveling group was a (Roman Catholic) girl, wearing a miniskirt. When we came close to the Vatican, she was stopped, with cries of ‘Scandaloso!!’ (scandalous, in Italian).

Inspired by Roman Catholic ideas about what ‘modest’ women should wear and not wear, Italian politicians of Silvio Berlusconi‘s party ban miniskirts.

As people could read earlier on this blog:

Polish conservative Catholic lawmaker Artur Zawisza has proposed the introduction of legislation against “sexual temptation” which may include penalties for wearing miniskirts or heavy make-up as well as low-cut or see-through blouses.

Now, if Roman Catholic authorities ban miniskirts, it might look like a safe option to wear a maxiskirt? Forget it.

Translated from the site Joop.nl in the Netherlands:

March 31, 15 09:44

Flemish school bans, after headscarves, long skirts

Catholics want to bother Muslims

A Flemish Catholic school forbids students to wear long skirts or dresses. At the Ursuline monastic order school in Mechelen there is already a ban on headscarves. The school emphasizes the house rules, but according to victims these are applied only to Muslim girls.

Let us look at the patron saint of the Ursuline monastic order, Saint Ursula.

Saint Ursula, by Benozzo Gozzoli

Here she is, as depicted by Italian painter Benozzo Gozzoli about 1460. Note her very long skirt length. And note the very long skirt of the small nun of Ursula’s order, kneeling for the saint. That nun also wears (shock horror!) a headscarf.

Ursuline nuns in 2004

And here is a photo of 21st century Ursuline nuns.

Saint Ursula would be barred from her own school in Belgium today. So would her nuns. Unless, as the Joop.nl article says, the rules, officially for everyone, are only applied against Muslim girls

It reminds me of someone who said that if Jesus Christ would be a member of any of many Christian churches of today, then he would immediately be excommunicated.

Surrealist painter Leonora Carrington, new book


This video says about itself:

7 May 2012

Leonora Carrington (born April 6, 1917 in Clayton Green, South Lancaster, Lancashire, England) is a British-born artist, a surrealist painter and while living in Mexico, a novelist.

Her father was a wealthy industrialist, her mother was Irish. She also had an Irish nanny, Mary Cavanaugh, who told her Gaelic tales. Leonora had three brothers. Places she lived as a child included a house called Crooksey Hall.

Educated by governesses, tutors and nuns, she was expelled from many schools for her rebellious behavior until her family sent her to Florence where she attended Mrs. Penrose’s Academy of Art. Her father was opposed to an artist’s career for her, but her mother encouraged her.

By Paul Simon in Britain:

Gripping tale of woman artist’s fights and flights

Thursday 19th March 2015

Leonora by Elena Poniatowska (Serpent’s Tail, £12.99)

RENOWNED Mexican novelist Elena Poniatowska has crafted a mightily expansive and breathlessly fictionalised biography — a “free approximation” as she terms it — of Surrealist painter Leonora Carrington, whose story is one of a constant but very individualised fight and flight rebellions against the expectations of her upper-class family.

Carrington died in 2011 and in this work, translated by Amanda Hopkinson, Poniatowska has ensured that the woman behind the paintings can be fully appreciated and understood.

The daughter of the owner of Imperial Chemical, Carrington was expelled from an endless number of educational institutions for insubordination but was still on the conveyor belt of presentation at court and a soulless marriage before fleeing to Paris and freedom.

There she took up with Max Ernst, Andre Breton, Peggy Guggenheim and others who made up the artistically fissiparous but financially astute Surrealists.

The book pivots around her love affair with the intoxicating, disloyal and rather weak Ernst as they escaped Paris for the south, before he was arrested as an alien in the weeks before France fell to the nazis.

There is a vivid description of the distraught and raging Carrington being smuggled out of the country and into Francoist Spain, where she suffered a breakdown and subsequent imprisonment and medical torture in a Santander asylum.

Well-connected friends helped her resume her life and painting, but without Ernst.

He’d been released and found a new love, firstly in New York and then in Mexico where Carrington spent the rest of her life, and where the author built up a long-term and observant friendship with her.

So this is first and foremost a book about one woman’s constant need for flight and exile in the face of circumstances beyond her control.

It is also a testament to her resistance to, and curious intoxication with, the controlling presence of men — her father, Ernst and her posh-boy patron Edward James included. Carrington emerges as a fragile but determined survivor, eclectically alighting on new ideas — everything from Jung to the Kabbalah but without really engaging in the material realities around her.

She was certainly vehemently anti-nazi when directly threatened but, as with most of the bitchy Surrealists, she failed to recognise the broader class struggles taking place whether in Spain in the 1930s or later in Mexico as the government brutally attacked protesters in the run-up to the 1968 Olympics.

Yet her utter need for freedom, gloriously expressed in her paintings, makes her a vital and influential artistic figure.