Art: Lee Krasner – Living Colour

A phenomenal pioneer of Abstract Expressionism who has been overshadowed by her more famous husband, Jackson Pollock, finally gets her time to shine. It has taken more than 50 years for her works to return to Europe in the latest exhibition at the Barbican. Lee Krasner: Living Colour presents her artwork throughout her life and provides an intimate insight into an extraordinary woman. The power of her art is evident throughout the exhibition reflecting her vivacious character. The major retrospective of her work is a rare opportunity to see some of her work all once space, in place better than the wonderful Brutalist vaults of the Barbican.

This is so good that you would not think it is done by a woman – Hofmann

Lee Krasner: Her Life

Though the exhibition was not presented chronologically ordered, I feel that her life story is the best way to showcase her art. In the below, I have selected a few of my favourite pieces from each decade to give a glimpse of the gems you will find at this exhibition.

The 1920s – Born in Brooklyn 1908, Krasner knew she would be an artist by the age of 14; which I think is amazing as I wasn’t sure of anything myself at that age. Her determination meant that she applied to the only school in New York to offer an art course for girls – Washington Irving High. One of the earliest artwork displayed was a self-portrait drawn having after graduated from Women’s Art School at Cooper Union. This small, easily overlooked, drawing is not as colourful as the others on display but what I believe to represent her changing identity, where she moved from her birth name of Lena to the more androgynous Lee.

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/486924
Self Portrait, c.1929-30

The 1930s – The Wall Street Crash in October 1929 marked the beginning of the Great Depression. It forced Lee to leave the National Academy and enrol on a teacher’s course at the City College of New York because the tuition was free. During this time, she was completing life drawing courses with Job Goodman who focused on classical methods of drawings – think Renaissance Masters. Her life drawings were one of my favourite series of her work because of the remarkable detail captured of the human body, and the use of line and shadow.

Studies from the Nude, 1933
Studies from the Nude, 1933

The 1940s – This was a particularly tough time for Lee because in 1945 she moved to Springs, Long Island after her father’s death the year before, which rendered her unable to paint anything more than “grey slabs”; despite her marriage to Pollock in 1945 as well. Surrounded by nature and the change of scenery, there was a transformation in her and the “Little Images” were created. It was in 1947 when Lee created my next favourite piece where she turned two old wagon wheels from the farm into mosaic tables. Using bits of costume jewellery and any random colourful knick knacks, she created this charming piece.

Mosaic Table, 1947
Mosaic Table, 1947

The 1950s – After the “Little Images”, Lee held her first solo exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery in October 1951. It was the start of her large contemporary pieces, however, like many other contemporary artists at the time, the painting had failed to sell. Ripping them up (as you do) and painting black and white drawings and shredding those as well, the shreds became the beginnings of a series of collages. This technique, reworking and destroying previous works, is seen throughout her later years as an artist. It was the Summer of 1956 when she painted a series of paintings unlike any other. By this time, Pollock’s alcoholism was acute and it was on the 12 August when she received that fateful call with the news that Pollock died in a car crash killing himself, a friend of his lover and only his lover as the sole survivor. The warped pink of the flesh and abstract eye or face is a shocking contrast to her earlier work. I personally found it almost too painful to look at.

The 1960s – Lee took over Pollock’s studio after his death, she was a pragmatic woman and recognised that it was the largest space she had with natural light. This was the beginnings of her large artwork, unrestricted in space, her pieces fill the lower floor of the exhibition space. In the period when she was suffering from chronic insomnia, she worked in the dark, but because she only works with colour in the natural light, Lee opted for a restricted palette of white and umber (a dark brown). These pieces differ again from her previous style – another rebirth. It is as if she let loose to let her energy and emotions spill and rupture onto the canvas. This period of darkness was relatively short lived as by the early 1960s, colour bursts back into her paintings but Lee continues with a limited palette. She embraces her inner Matisse and nothing seemed to have held her back.

with colour one obtains an energy that seems to stem from witchcraft. – Matisse

The 1970s – Another decade, another change. Lee refused to have a “signature image”, she was a formidable force that is ever evolving. The change was stark, moving away from the energetic and dynamic strokes of the 60s to the hard edge and calculated forms of the 70s. She continues to extensively use colour but in a very different way. She paints a piece entitled Palingenesis during this time, which is the Greek word for re-birth. As noted above, this been a fundamental and consistent theme throughout her decades as an artist.

IMG_20190602_104328
Olympic, 1974

Obviously, this exhibition is awarded 5 out of 5 pineapples! An exceptional exhibition for an extraordinary female artist in her own right. No longer does she need to be remembered as the wife of Jackson Pollock, but as Lee Krasner – a rebirth. As always, I would love from you and your thoughts, so leave a comment below!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Art: Jasper Johns

Hi Everyone!

I had recently visited the latest Royal Academy of Arts exhibition: Jasper Johns “Something Resembling Truth”. It is currently still on and will be available until the 10th December. An adult ticket is ÂŁ17 without donation but the ticket price does include audio guides for those are so inclined to use them!

I have not actually heard of this artist before until a friend mentioned that he was going to have a look. As always, I would jump on any opportunity to expand my knowledge of art and culture. When I googled, and saw the iconic paintings the US flags, I realised who I was going to see! Having said that, because of my lack of knowledge of this artist, I wasn’t very sure what I was in for!

This is the first comprehensive survey of the work in the UK and it was an extremely large exhibition. I personally thought it was beautifully curated and the artwork was chronologically ordered. Each room you walked through was of a different decade. Obviously, to be difficult, I started with his latest work from the early 2000s and then making my way backward in time to the 1960s. I am glad that I did because I think it provided a different perspective on how his work developed. It was notable, how it became more vibrant and sophisticated over time, though admittedly more and more abstract.

There are some obvious reoccurring themes throughout his works, but my favourite pieces were definitely the recent paintings, which seemed to have a more Picasso feel; or the really early works with different materials, such as the Painted Bronze (ale cans) and The Critic Sees (1961).

Overall, it was a very well curated exhibition with a lot to see. For someone like me who was unfamiliar with his work, it was an eye-opener. However, personally, I am not a massive fan of his work and often found it difficult to emotionally engage with his art. Though, if you are a fan of his artwork, this is not an event to miss! As a result, I would give the exhibition 3.5 pineapples out of 5.

I would love to know your thoughts of this artist and whether you have had a chance to go and see the exhibition! Please leave your comments below 🙂

As always, with sweet & sour love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Art: Gregory Crewdson

 

Hi everyone,

I cannot believe that it has been a month since I last wrote a blog post. I apologise that I lost track of time as work has been crazy. I wanted to share this exhibition with you all before it ends! There is a lot of exciting things to catch up on, so I hope I will get a chance to blog more during the next few weeks (as I am on holiday).

Gregory Crewdson has an exhibition at the Photographer’s Gallery in London titled The Cathedral of Pines. This highly personal showcase of large photos focused on human interactions within nature. At the time of these photos, the artist had just gone through a very difficult divorce and wanted to be away from the city. As a result, all the photos were taken in the small rural town of Becket, Massachusetts. The dystopian landscape focuses on feelings of isolation and sadness.

For a Londoner like me, I have always found rural America rather disconcerting. The idea you are so far away from the next town/civilisation is not something I am accustomed to. I think this eerie-ness is brilliantly encapsulated in his photos. I was particularly drawn to them because they made me feel uncomfortable yet invited me to delve more into each photo.

Each of the photos has a human subject but nearly all void of expression. It does give this sense of visual suspense or one could argue, they are just super creepy. Each individual’s position is so carefully curated which adds to the oddness. The fact that each person had no expression allowed for other subtle details to become highlighted. As a viewer, you had to search for clues and really look at what the photo had provided to arrive at a conclusion. In each, you will notice a few repeating details, such as dirty blankets and old books, I don’t know why and I am still wondering why Gregory decided that this was necessary.

Most of the subjects do not wear clothes, which I realised is something that I often use to gauge a character, as it is surprisingly telling of a person. I loved the fact that the photos intrigued me, despite being a bit odd, yet did not resort to explicitness or gore to shock or bring emotion out of the audience. Not sure whether any of you have gone to see the exhibit and thought the same thing?

The exhibit is available until the 8th October 2017 and is free before 12pm. I highly recommend a visit and rate it 4 out of 5 pineapples 🙂 so do hurry!!#

With sweet and sour love,

Pineapple Chicken

 

Art: Tate Modern

Hi Everyone! Hope you are having a great start to your week and welcome to another instalment of my adventures. This weekend I went to the Tate Modern to explore their Soul of Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power Exhibition which is open until 22nd October 2017.

Tate Modern

I personally love the Tate Modern, it is this beautifully vast open space dedicated to art. Though it can feel empty at times, it does add to the atmosphere of the place. Architecturally, it is also fascinating too with its mix of old and new, curves and straight lines.

The best way to travel to the Tate is from St. Paul’s Station (Central Line) and walk the Millennium Bridge over the Thames. It is roughly a 10-minute walk, depending on your leisurely speed and you have this wonderful view 360 degree view of London from the bridge. On one side, Tower Bridge, the Globe and the Shard, behind you is St. Paul’s Cathedral and in front of you is Tate Modern. Perfect post card shot, for sure!

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 

I have heard wonderful things about this exhibition and booked my tickets for last weekend, several weeks in advance just in case it is sold out. Tickets cost £15 for an adult or it is 50% off with the Art Pass. I arrived at 2:30 pm on a Saturday and it was crammed. I recommend choosing either earlier or later in the day when the crowds subside.

The exhibition explores the works of Black artists in America from the Civil Rights movement in 1963 to 1983. There are twelve rooms and it covered a whole range different art movements/expressions of the time; from art published in Black Panther magazines, to photography of daily life and to very abstract art work. You will be getting your money’s worth!

Personal Favourites

Though I had studied the Civil Rights movement back in school for GCSE History, we did not even mention art of that time and the struggles that Black artists faced. The exhibition brings to life how art developed within these two decades.  Some pieces are extremely emotive and one can’t help to appreciate the struggles of the artists to share their story with the world. Overall, it was a humbling experience and I felt the exhibition gave an insight to a unknown artists (well, at least to myself).

To give you a flavour of the exhibit, I have selected one art piece in each of the 12 rooms. Many of which were my personal favourites. If you visit, do leave a comment below to tell me what you loved and whether you agree with me!

  • Room 1 (Spiral): Norman Lewis – America the Beautiful (1960). This is an example of semi-abstraction. It is hauntingly beautiful as the white triangles, upon closer inspection, you realise are the cloaked figures of the Ku Klux Klan
  • Room 2 (Art on the Streets): I didn’t have a favourite in this room, but this room showcased the art work from Emory Douglas and artwork that was included in Black Panther magazines.
  • Room 3 (Figuring Black Power): Faith Ringgold – American People Series #20: Die (1967). This is the most striking piece in the room. It takes a while to take the whole all of it in, where there is a mix of black and blond characters with their eyes wide and staring at you. One of the most memorable pieces in the whole of the exhibition.
  • Room 4 (Los Angeles Assemblage): This is probably my least favourite room in the whole exhibition. I struggled to connect with the artwork in this room. Though, do spend time looking at Melvin Edwards‘ work labelled Lynch Fragments made from welded steel.
  • Room 5 (Africobra in Chicago): This is the most colourful room and the vibrancy of the artwork shows how this movement moved away from the red (blood) and the monochrome artwork in the earlier years and concentrated more on aesthetics. There were many pieces I loved, but one being by Jeff Donaldson Wives of Sango (1970).
  • Room 6 (Three Graphic Artists): This room is in stark contrast with the colours of Room 5. Though, the piece that would draw your attention in this room would be David Hammons, Injustice Case (1970), which is a portrait of the trial of Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale. It is really heart wrenching to see and the US flag border just makes it all that more shocking.
  • Room 7 (East Coast Abstraction): I am not a big lover of contemporary abstract art, but I really enjoyed the artwork in this room. I loved the different shapes and colours. Most were extremely large pieces, though the one that caught my attention is Jack Whitten’s Homage to Malcolm (1970), probably because it is shaped as a triangle and though it is mainly dark and black, various colours came through as you look at the piece in different angles.
  • Room 8 (Black Light): As a budding photographer, this room was my favourite. It portrayed life in the US during those two decades and really gave an insight of life at the time.  I spent most of my time admiring the beautiful monochrome photo and portraits prints. Favourite of mine is Beuford Smith – Woman Bathing/Madonna, New York (1967)
  • Room 9 (Black Heros): This is probably the most iconic room because of Barkley L. Hendricks Icon for My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved any Black People – Bobby Seale) (1969), which is featured as the piece to showcase the exhibition. However, my favourite piece was painted by him as well, Brilliantly Endowed (1977), a very tongue in cheek self-portrait.
  • Room 10 (Improvisation and Experimentation): This room contrasts from the rest of the exhibition. However, I found myself disconnecting with the artwork because it was very abstract and I failed to grasp the message. This is probably due to my untrained eye, though I was drawn to Joe Overstreet’s We came from there to get here (1970). The piece was created by different coloured canvases strung up together, which is supposed to recall the history of lynching.
  • Room 11 (Betyse Saar): I will be honest, I did not spend too much time in this room. The pieces were rather disconcerting, but one of the pieces I was drawn to was by Senga Nengudi Internal II (1977, 2015). It was eye catching and explored the role of women, particularly black women – an interesting piece.
  • Room 12 (Just above Midtown): The photos on the right hand side of the wall dominates this room, but again my favourite piece is from Senga Nengudi RSVP XI (1977, 2004).

Overall, I loved this exhibition and has made me want to explore more art and photography from black artists that was shown. I guess that is a great outcome from any exhibition. It was an educational day out and I had a wonderful time, therefore, the Tate Modern gets a snazzy 4 out of 5 pineapples. If you do get a chance to go, I would love to hear what you thought about the exhibition! Leave your comments below or on my Instagram!

With Sweet and Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken