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My art week

No exhibitions nor art on telly this week but two fascinating lessons in our art course.

In the first – on British art and visual culture 1950 to the present – we studied David Hockney and Francis Bacon.

Hockney, though it was not compulsory, studied line at Bradford Art College and perspective at the National Gallery where he spent much time in front of the Masters.

We particularly studied the dual portrait of Celia Birtwell and Ossie Clark, noting the separation between the two – Percy the cat perched on Ossie Clark’s groin and the latter’s shoeless feet in the carpet. It’s a wonderful piece of work.

We went onto the Californian swimming pools.

Hockney like many a British painter defies categorisation.

The outrageous Francis Bacon is someone whose company I would prefer to his art.

He edited his work cleverly by destroying it, he hung out at the Colony Club at Soho and became a major figure in British late 20th Century art like his erstwhile chum Lucian Freud.

In the Thursday class – art and visual culture 1850-1950 – we studied the post Impressionists Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.

I asked our teacher for the correct pronunciation of Van Gogh.

I have heard him called by Americans “Van Gouw”, by Britons “Van Goff” and by Dutch “Van Hoch”.

However you say it, his importance is undeniable.

Up till him emphasis from the Academies was on line, not colour, but he and Gauguin produced blocks of riotous colour.

Our teacher debunked a few myths on him; Van Gogh was, above all, a Dutch painter from a reasonably affluent family – his brother was a successful art dealer.

The heroine is his sister-in-law Johanna who kept all his letters and paintings and showed some business acumen in slowly selling them, particularly to German dealers, once his reputation was formed in the 1890s.

Another myth was that Paul Gauguin went to Tahiti for sybaritic pleasure.

In fact he was skint after failing as a stockbroker and not inclined to work in his Danish wife Metta-Sophie’s family business.

About Alice Mansfield

A graduate of the Slade, Alice has painted and written about art all her life. With her children now having now grown up and departed the nest, she recently took up sculpture. More Posts