Thursday, 23 November 2017

De Stijl and Mondrian


Thanks for popping in.

The second of the November Art Talks was about Piet Mondrian and the De Stijl Art Movement.

The man behind De Stijl - art for an ideal society that was functional and in harmony - was Theo van Doesburg (1883-1931).  He was known for his stained glass window designs.  He met Pier Mondrian in 1915 and others like Bart van der Leck and Gerrit Rietveld and de Stijl was born.

Stained glass window by Theo van Doesburg
Mondrian (1872-1944) was born in Amersfoort in the Netherlands, his father was a teacher.  He graduated from the Academy of Fine Art in Amsterdam and moved to the Hague.  He went to France in 1914, went back to the Hague after the war and then back to Paris, to the UK for a year and then to the US in 1940.

View of Winterswijk

He started painting influenced initially by The Hague school, which in turn was influenced by the Barbizon school, painting in the open air although the Hague school incorporated cities, seaside and working men rather than just the land.  The Dutch painters focussed on what gave wealth to the city rather than painting the city itself. Mondrian loved painting village landscapes.  He was influenced by Van Gogh and tried to simplify his work and his paintings of the dunes in Zeeland are even more simplified, have geometrical shapes and uses colour to give depth.  His work was becoming more abstract.

When he went to Paris he was influenced by Picasso and the Cubists.

The Red Mill
In 1916 he joined a theosophical society which strove for harmony and looked for the inner meaning of life, trees were important to the society and colours had specific meanings, mainly primary colours used and shapes were important.

The De Stijl group used only vertical and horizontal lines, flat primary colours with, black grey and white being absence of colour and were only there to emphasise the other colours, to create the essence of life, optimism especially important following WWI, harmony, monumentality.

Composition with red, yellow, black,grey and blue
Leck left the movement as he found it too restricting and Van Doseburg and Mondrian fell out when the former started to use diagonal lines which were not considered to represent life.

Not only were they interested in painting but also furniture and architecture which aimed to provide comfort and a spirit of well being.

Schroeder House 1924 Utrecht by Rietveld

Towards the end of his life,  Mondrian experimented with coloured sticky tape and then painted his pictures.

Broadway Boogie-Woogie 1942-4  This represents the rhythm of New York, the noise and music

Mondian's work is referred to as neoplasticism - finding the essence of life free from description and shape, abstraction of form and colour as straight lines and primary colour.

Just a few notes from the talk.


Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Underneath the Spreading Copper Beech Tree


Thanks for calling in.

The other day we had one of those glorious sunny Autumn days, chilly but gorgeous.

Let's have a look at the bottom of the garden.

Ooo let's have a closer look at that copper beech in the distance.

 There's another one on the corner.

It's definitely looking a much more colourful Autumn now.

Here's the band playing by the church as the poppy wreaths are hung on the lychgate, its Remembrance Sunday.

Brrr time for a cup of tea.


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Cezanne's Paintings


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I was delighted to find that my favourite series of Art Talks were back on again this November and this week we were treated to the works of Paul Cezanne to coincide with the National Portrait Exhibition of his portraits.

Cezanne was born in 1839 in Aix en Provence to a well-to-do family who had originally been involved with felt making but later his father opened a bank.  Having this family financial backing was very important to Cezanne as he only became famous towards the end of his life and the stability allowed him to explore ideas and try different techniques. Despite his happy childhood, his father was a domineering man who wanted Cezanne to be a lawyer and didn't support his desire to paint but did come round eventually.

His best friend at school was Emile Zola and this friendship drew him to Paris after Zola had moved there.  Cezanne went to the Academie Suisse and became friends with the Artist Camille Pissaro, who encouraged him to paint landscapes en plein air but he didn't get on well with the other Impressionists at that time.

He met his wife, artist's model Hortense Fiquet, in 1869 and moved back down South in 1870, keeping his wife and son a secret from his family, to avoid the Franco Prussian war.  Once his father discovered his marriage, his allowance was cut off. Cezanne moved back up North and was supported by Dr Gachet, an art collector who let struggling artists, including Vincent van Gogh, stay at his home free of charge.

On his father's death, Cezanne inherited his property and moved South again to live in the family home, a large country house called Jas de Bouffan.

Jas de Bouffan
Cezanne's work was, for many, many years, criticised at exhibitions.  He wanted to try something quite different, using simple forms which weren't well defined and using particular colour combinations, which was all in stark contrast to the popular well-finished art of the time.  He was influenced by Camille Pissaro, Eugene Delacroix and Edouard Manet's Olympia in particular.  Creating a new Olympia became an obsession, other themes that preoccupied him were bathers, using models or sculptures and the mountain near his home. He wasn't really interested in faces but simplified the human form using geometric shapes.

The Bathers - the figures across The water are said to be The artist looking on, he found it difficult to relate to women.
The mountain, Mont Sainte Victoire near the Zola Dam and his family home, was painted over and over again using different styles incorporating either simple forms, sweeping brushstrokes, harmonious colours, inconsistent perspective, with no texture or those works  influenced by Pissaro, which had light, short brushstrokes, more texture or, as a precursor to Cubism, paintings creating a patchwork of colour to lead you back, painting wet in wet,  with directional brushstrokes, building up form with colour and using his analytical approach to nature. His landscapes had no people in them.

Mont Sainte Victoire

He didn't want to create an impression of a fleeting moment but wanted to achieve permanent, solid and durable museum art.

The simplification of form and lack of correct perspective is also evident in his still life's, which often took a long time to complete, sometimes with the fruit rotting before he was finished.  The source of light can be found in several different places in the painting for this reason.

Still life with curtains
Portraits carried out were mainly his family or friends.

Self portrait
Cezanne moved to a studio nearby called Les Lauves as he had fallen out with most of his friends including Zola, due to the publication of his book L'Oeuvre about a failed painter and cut him off but was distraught when he died. Towards the end of his life, he lived as a virtual recluse. It was only at the end of the 1890s that his work began to be appreciated.  

My notes from the talk illustrated with pictures from the internet.


He died in 1906.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Bath and Bristol Markets


Thanks for calling in.

To finish off these West Country posts, we're popping into the markets which, both in Bath and Bristol, are located in beautiful historic buildings.

Bath's indoor market is within the Guildhall building.  The passageway opens up to a circular area where twenty plus colourful stalls are open for business in the place that trading has been going on for 800 years.  Here's a link to all the shops.  It won't be long until the famous award-winning Christmas Market arrives.  The City gets extremely busy at this time.

Moving to Bristol, we find the market in the Old city in the Corn Exchange, built by John Wood  The Elder from Bath who designed The Circus and Royal Crescent.  The 1822 clock on the outside of the building has two minute hands to show the time in London as well, as this was before a standardised time was used throughout the country and Bristol had its own time zone. It wasn't until 1841 when the railway arrived that the time was synchronised.

There are some bronze tables known as nails where deals were made, giving rise to the sayings - cash on the nail or pay on the nail.

In the 1960s, the building was used as a concert venue where the Rolling Stones, Cream and other bands played.

There are quite a few outdoor and indoor markets to have a look round.

We'll be up to other things next time.


Friday, 17 November 2017

Art Around Bristol


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Next time I visit Bristol, I will seek out the street art as we just didn't have time on our recent day trip.  It has become a centre for street art and well known Graffiti Artist Banksy come from Bristol.  Here's a link to see more of  what's on offer.  We did find Brunel on his bike in a car park quite by chance, it's by Stewy.

Along the Wharf, decorated garages looked fun.

Of course, there are statues here and there. Here's King William III strides out in the centre of the restored Queens Square.

I rather liked these hungry fish in Castle Park . . .

And here's Jimmy Hendrix on the Bridge Inn.


Thursday, 16 November 2017

M Shed and @Bristol


Thanks for popping in.

You'll notice that there are lots of Sheds in Bristol.  It's Shed this and Shed that from restaurants to activities and so it's not surprising that the museum on Princes Wharf near the floating harbour is called M Shed.  Using the industrial buildings on the Wharf, M Shed has been regenerated into a great place to highlight the people, places and life in Bristol itself.

Outside there are large exhibits that can be enjoyed when the museum is closed, like the different boats moored alongside, the tower cranes that carry on a conversation with each other telling stories of times gone by and Locomotives that give train rides along the wharf.  

Inside there's lots to enjoy in the modern surroundings, even a dinosaur with coloured houses on it!

A workshop was in progress which we could see through a picture-like window in the foyer.

Not far away, over the river is another of Bristol's venues to explore, We The Curious, used to be called @Bristol, provides interactive activities to stimulate the brain.

There are far more Museums and Galleries to visit if you have more time.


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Bristol Wateways


Great to see you.

Although Bristol's City harbour has been moved to the Severn Estuary, there's no shortage of water.  Along the Old harbour these days, there's plenty to find, from the Aquarium, museums and Galleries to Brunel's SS Great Britain, the first ocean going liner which you can board. Here's a couple of photos of it hiding behind a building!

It's a very pleasant walk alongside the floating harbour constructed to deal with the strong tides.

Pero's Bridge takes you over to lots of cafes and restaurants.

Following the river takes you past the beautiful Queens Square and Castle Park.  Detouring along the many channel off shoots, you pass new office buildings.  The river twists and turns, divides and joins. It's so easy to get lost! We did.