Wednesday 31 December 2014

Monday 29 December 2014

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter at the Marian Goodman Gallery, 5-8 Lower John Street, London.

This is a new gallery in London and the Gerhard Richter is their inaugural exhibition. I had been looking forward to seeing this exhibition for a long time, as I am an admirer of Richter's work.

He has produced an enormous variety of works moving between abstraction, landscape, photo-painting, monochrome paintings of his family, portraiture and history painting, which includes those of the Baader Meinhoff group.  You can see more of his work here .

I loved the building too.

House of Cards

Seven sheets of glass propped against each other at angles that produce the illusion of shards slicing through, layering and dislocating light, reflecting not just the strip lights overhead, but the paintings on the walls and the viewers too.  All edges and transparent planes, the sheets of glass reach towards the ceiling and are held together by small steel clamps.
This work, like Richter's other glass installations, recalls a trip he made to Greenland in 1972, initially inspired by Friedrich but during which he soon abandoned that romanticism for a fascination with the formal qualities of icebergs.

Doppelgrau (Double Grey)

Four large diptychs, each juxtaposing two different shades of grey paint behind glass. No mark-making, instead, reflection. Reflection of the architectural space and the viewers. Each diptych is mounted to a support that projects the picture plane forward off the wall towards the viewer, hovering in space, thus helping the reflection. It's impossible to look more closely at the greys, the reflections keep you at bay.

This series continues Richter's nearly 50-year engagement with grey monochromes, an enduring fascination: 'Grey is the epitome of non-statement'.

These are really like mirrors, reflecting the space, the paintings, the viewers

Forty years ago, Richter says, he built a narrow corridor and on one wall he hung a grey painting and opposite a mirror. 'They looked at each other, and you couldn't go in'. He created an illusion of a painting that didn't need a spectator.



Enamel paint poured and then frozen in motion at the moment Richter fixed a pane of glass directly to the surface of a painting in process on the floor, arresting the fluid image at a precise chosen moment - a mixture of chance and the experienced artist's hand.

The elegant staircase leads up to the first floor gallery where most of the Strip Paintings are, including one that is 10 metres wide, taking up a whole wall of the large space.


A series of paintings based on the systematic deconstruction of a photograph of one of his own abstract oil canvases from 1990. He divided the work's surface into two vertical sections, then halved those halves, mirrored the image and repeated the process again and again: 'dividing, mirroring, repeating', as he described it. As the image got halved and squeezed again and again, ever smaller repetitive patterns were produced, reminiscent of Islamic decoration, until at a certain point these horizontal bands took over. Were he to continue, he explained, the bands themselves would disappear into a kind of optical white noise, and eventual visual silence. At the point when this digital process had generated 4,096 vertical sections, Richter intervened with a rigorous selection process, choosing particular preferred strips with which to continue working. Following one further final halving and mirroring, he had each work printed to his desired scale, resulting in horizontal, rhythmic fields of fine lines of various colours.

By entitling these works Strip paintings, Richter is referring not only to those lines, but also to the sense of physically 'stripping', taking apart and dismantling his original painting. Of not only reinventing, but also paring down and fundamentally abstracting his own abstraction.


Up close, it's hard to focus on the Strip paintings, they induce vertigo and you just have to move further back.
Abstraktes Bild:

A selection of paintings on canvas and glass. These were magnificently vibrant.

Richter poured paint on a flat surface, tilting the paint around, then pressing the glass on to a section of the surface and lifting it off. 'I move the paint around. If it looks good and feels right, I place the glass over it'.


'Abstract pictures do indeed show something, they just show things that don't exist. But they still follow the same requirements as figurative works: they need a setup, structure. You need to be able to look at it and say, 'it's almost something'. But it's actually representing nothing. It pulls feelings out of you, even as it's showing you a scene that technically isn't there'.

'Even from the beginning, I was trying to find a way to break through to abstract art. If I accidentally create something abstract that looks like a dog or whatever, I immediately throw it out'.



Saturday 27 December 2014


We had a really nice afternoon walking around Broadway just before Christmas. 

This old church has been converted into a design museum.


One of the many antique shops in the town


The Cotswold stone gives these houses their own particular character

and some of them are quite old so that the stone has mellowed

What makes Broadway unusual is the large number of art galleries

and some of them specialise in contemporary art which is rare in the Cotswolds.

My Gang II, Neil B. Helyard

Reclining Figure, 1980, Henry Moore.

I love Moore's drawings, so seeing this one was a real pleasure

The Farm, L.S. Lowry, (pencil on paper)

Entwined, Chris Webb, (stone)

Luna, Chris Webb, (bronze)


Eva, Chris Webb, (bronze)


We then moved on to John Noot Contemporary


Water Birds, Linda Warwick

Perfect symmetry

There are also some very nice gift shops here and we managed to do the last bits of Christmas shopping so we were very pleased about this unexpected outcome

When the sun hits the stone it takes on a golden glow


which is extremely attractive


Wednesday 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and best wishes for the festive season.

Anthony Gormley's Iron Man on the roof of Blackwell's Art and Poster shop, on the corner of Broad and Turl Streets in Oxford.


Monday 22 December 2014

Christmasy London

London sparkled two Saturdays ago with the bright sunshine, and the Christmas decorations and lights, walking around the city was a delight.

Berkeley Square Gardens in Mayfair, a little oasis of peace and calm away from all the bustle of the crowds doing their Christmas shopping.

The modernist Christmas tree made out of orange and yellow plastic tubes
Note: As a result of the comment that Olga left on this post, I now know that this is a sculpture by Dale Chihuly, and it's made of glass.  

Also in Berkeley Square Gardens, Paddington Bear, part of the Paddington Bear Trail.  In celebration of London's art, culture and innovation,  the release of the movie, and to raise money for the NSPCC, fifty bears are dotted around the city during December.


Nothing to do with Christmas: I am including these gates because I think they are gorgeous



A giant clock mechanism displayed in this shop on Bond Street. It reminded me of the Manufacturer's Hanover Trust building in New York, where the bank's vault is displayed in the window, and which you can see here .

Another bear on Bond Street.

By the time we reached Covent Garden the crowds had multiplied


How do they do it?

I still haven't figured it out.
Note: Another comment from a reader has solved this mystery. You can find the answer here 

Lots of entertainment in Covent Garden as usual

in a very festive atmosphere


a variety of decorations

The ubiquitous selfie

The enormous Christmas tree outside the market
and another even bigger one in Trafalgar Square.