Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Art And Artists

Ailz's course in 20th century art starts round about now. The first tutorial is next week; there are books full of pretty pictures all over the house and we lie in bed at night and talk about Cubism.
I don't get Cubism. I don't get why exactly it should be considered such a good idea to chop things into little cubes or shards or whatever those things are. I get Cezanne- who builds his paintings as if he were building a wall- and I get the primitivism of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon- and I get the pure abstraction of people like Mondriaan. But Cubism?  No. Even after 100 years there seems to be some uncertainty as to what it was all about - and I note that the artists who came up with the theory- or theories- were the second-raters like Whassisname and Whojamiflip. The guys who invented the brand- Braque and Picasso- said nothing. They just got on with it. I prefer to think of it as a transitional style, a bridge between primitivism and whatever comes next- dada or surrealism. Also rather academic and constricting- and it doesn't surprise me that Picasso got bored with it sooner rather later. Maybe Ailz, who thinks it's wonderful, will be able to persuade me otherwise.

The other artist in my life at the moment is Renoir. I'm working on a jig-saw of his Le Moulin de la Galette. It's tough. With most jigsaws you get lines and well-defined shapes,  but with Renoir it's all  blibs and blobs of colour that only resolve themselves into an image when you step a long way back. My old art teacher- Tom Griffiths- used to say that Renoir was the greatest of all painters because he painted joy. Myself, I think that Renoir is largely crap- he couldn't draw for starters- but I'll allow that a handful of his early paintings- the big compositions with lots of people having a hell of a good time- are really rather splendid. Le Moulin de la Galette is one of them.
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