Saturday, 26 March 2011

Fitzwilliam Museum and Kettle's Yard


Fitzwilliam Museum – Art Galleries
Kettle’s Yard

On the 25th March 2011 I visited Cambridge to see the exhibits in the Fitzwilliam and Kettle’s Yard.

I was interested by the paintings by Bonnard, Vuillard and various other artists of the period.  I have always liked the way the Nabis reduced their work to flat colour but kept the subject matter clear.

However, Afterlife was one of the special exhibitions with prints by Jake & Dinos Chapman, Paul Coldwell, Mat Collishaw, Jane Dixon Paul Morrison, Hughue O’Donaghue and Marc Quinn. 

Whilst touching on mortality themes, the exhibition was so named because of the print process transfiguring and re-cycling nature.

The Prints of Mat Collishaw were particularly exciting, although I did not know the print process.  What I found particularly interesting was the way in which the digital image had been used:

I also found the Italian Drawings interesting.  It inspired me to use some of the methods and materials used.  For example the blue paper with black pen and wash and white gouache.  Also the brown paper with black ink, on brown wash with white gouache.  As well as the brown ink and wash  on white paper.  It reminded me of the drawings of Watteau which used red black and white chalk,  on white paper.  The possibilities are endless but it made me more aware of the use of washes when using pen.

I have simultaneously been reading about Gaudier-Brzeska’s sculpture and paintings, so a visit to Kettle’s Yard was a must.  The cottages themselves, the former home of Jim and Helen Ede, are a delight and are filled with marvellous work of various avante guarde artists including Ben Nicholson, Joan Miro, Constantin Brancusi, Willliam Congdon and Alfred Wallis.

The Dancer, a beautiful bronze is a reproduction, the original having been sold, but it demonstrates perfectly the idea of potential energy which interested Gaudier-Brzeska.  The sculptures of  Birds Erect, The Mermaid, Bird Swallowing a Fish as well as a relief of The Wrestlers.  In terms of actual artwork there is a large painting of a man in Blue, it is reminiscent of Klimt and Scheile.

Gaudier-Bzreska uses pure line with pen and ink, also with charcoal or black chalk, his later work is influenced by Picasso whose work he would have seen when he was in Paris in 1909.  The amazing and sad thing is that Gaudier Bzreska has produced all this work yet he was killed in the first World War at the age of 23years.

I am particularly interested in the idea of potential energy and hope to explore this further in my work.

William Congdon’s Venice, Istanbul and India were also exhibited there and whilst these were rather dark paintings they were full of energy and life and used metallic paint in a way that I want to explore.  I have used metallic paint in the past but the way Congdon uses it is much more interesting, it is applied with a palette knife mixed in with the darker brown paints, he then outlines with the end of a brush to create the subject matter and this technique appeals to me.

It was a pity one couldn’t take photographs but I am hoping these few notes will remind me of what I saw and also to explore some of the artists on the internet.

Gaudier-Bzreska Birds Erect,
© Bridgeman Library

     Female  Nude Seated © Bridgeman Library    

 Gaudier-Bzreska,   Crouching  Monkey, © Bridgeman Library

Italian Drawings 

                                                           Carracci,  Head of a Young Woman,  © Bridgeman Library

This drawing is just to remind me of the Italian Drawing Exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, so that I can use similar materials, i.e. red chalk, black ink, brown ink, washes: brown, black, red; paper: blue, cream, white.

1 comment:

  1. Been to these exhibitions - they're great. Gaudier-Brzeska is really interesting - went to a lecture about his sculptures at Kettle's Yard. The drawing lecture on this artist was cancelled, but if it ever gets put on again, I'll contact you, as the curator is really enthusiastic.

    Great to see you at Pin Mill. Hope we can get another meeting organised.

    Best wishes, Lynn