Category Archives: Art and death

Lives in pictures

Thursday, 15 November 2012

 

 

Posted by Richard Rawlinson

The portrait below by Mabel Pryde is of her son, British painter Ben Nicholson, as a teenager studying at the Slade School of Fine Art between 1910-1914. His face appearing out of darkness somehow captures both the confidence and insecurity of youth. The mood, evoked by both expression and compositional simplicity, brings to mind Rembrandt, and yet there’s the hint of the dawning modern age.

 

Ben Nicholson – Mabel Pryde

 

Nicholson was exempted from military service in World War I due to asthma. His brother Anthony died in action, and his mother died in the flu epidemic of 1918.

Nicholson himself lived to a ripe old age (d. 1982), becoming a leading light of the British abstract movement.

 

Ben Nicholson – Cornish Landscape

 

His talent was inherited from both sides of the family, his father Sir William Nicholson being famous for brilliant illustrations such as his Alphabet series.

 

William Nicholson – A

 

 Ben’s sister Nancy was an accomplished fabric designer.

 

Nancy Nicholson – Fabric design

 

Ben’s brother Christopher was an architect, whose work includes Augustus John’s studio.

 

Christopher Nicholson

 

Ben married three times, first to artist Winifred Nicholson: 

Winifred Nicholson – Still Life

Ben’s second wife was sculptor Barbara Hepworth:

Barbara Hepworth – Two Forms (Divided Circle)

Ben’s third wife was photographer Felicitas Vogler:

Felicitas Vogler

  One of Ben’s contemporaries at art school was Stanley Spencer:

Stanley Spencer – Hilda, Unity and dolls

 

Another art school contemporary was Edward Wadsworth:

 

Edward Wadsworth – Abstract

 

Another art school contemporary was war artist Paul Nash:

 

 

Paul Nash – The Ypres Salient at Night

 

 

During trips to Paris, Ben met Mondrian and Picasso who inspired his abstract and cubist direction:

 

Piet Mondrian – Composition

 

Picasso – Skull and Pitcher

 

Christopher Wood – St Ives

 

But much of the distinct Britishness of his work stems not just from Slade influences and London society including Hepworth in Henry Moore. Now famously linked to the St Ives artist colony, he first visited the Cornish fishing village in 1928 with fellow painter Christopher Wood. There, he met the fisherman and painter, Alfred Wallis, whose naïve style, often capturing the perilous power of the sea, had a profound impact. Although propelled into a circle of the most progressive artists of the 1930s, Wallis never sold many works, and died in poverty in a Penzance workhouse. Nicholson said, ‘To Wallis, his paintings were never paintings but actual events’.

Alfred Wallis

 

The works of both Wallis and Nicholson can be seen at Tate St Ives. Last November, Nicholson’s Sept 53 (Balearic) sold for $1,650,500 at Christie’s, New York:

 

Graveland

Monday, 12 November 2012

 

Carla Conte is holding an exhibition in late January 2013. The title is Graveland. The venue is the Crypt Gallery, London. 

Graveland takes a curious look at cemeteries and tributes from around the world, exploring ways we remember, through photography & art.

Photography, stories, objects and decorations will show some of the many different ways we commemorate a person worldwide, from the traditional to the the more unusual. This will be further explored by artwork including drawings, sculpture, installations, photographic art, film and craft.

During the week we will be making the most of the space by holding a music workshop, book club and Death Cafe, as well as holding an opening event with performances.

You can find out more on Carla’s web page. I’ll give you the link in a moment. Be patient, for heaven’s sake. 

Here’s the rub. Carla needs to raise £1000 to hold this exhibition, and she’s doing that by crowdfunding. 

We very much want you to support her because we think Carla’s terrific and we feel certain her show is going to be great. 

Please do this NOW. Just 100 tenners will see her home and dry.

Go to her web page, read all about it, then click on a Pledge button on the rhs. 

Together, we, the GFG readership, can help make something beautiful happen. 

LET’S DO IT!

 

Ed’s Note: Is the Kickstarter website safe? Yes it is. Type that question into Google and do your due diligence. 

 

 

 

Barbara Hepworth’s hospital drawings

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

 

Poppy Mardall very much likes Barbara Hepworth’s drawings of surgeons at work in the late 1940s. There’s currently an exhibition of 30 works in Wakefield, and you can see some of them at the Guardian

Says Poppy: “Hepworth gets past the clinical and gives us these moving, almost spiritual pictures of what goes on behind the scenes. It makes me think about what we do. And all that focus on the hands and the eyes – so full of beauty.”

 

 

Yet more exhumation news

Sunday, 16 September 2012

 

Posted by Richard Rawlinson

Not Richard III this time but the remains of the woman believed to have inspired Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Lisa Gherardini.

A dig at the now-derelict Convent of St Orsola in Florence is said to be getting close to discovering the buried remains of the noblewoman with the enigmatic smile. But why? To reconstruct her face in order to see if her features match that of the painting at the Louvre, according to Silvano Vinceti, grandly titled the president of the National Committee for the Promotion of Historic and Cultural Heritage.

So much for Rest In Peace. More here 

Who Killed Cock Robin?

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

 

 

Posted by Vale

THE DEATH AND BURIAL OF POOR COCK ROBIN

Who killed Cock Robin?
"I," said the sparrow,
"With my little bow and arrow,
I killed Cock Robin,"

Who saw him die?
"I," said the fly,
"With my little eye,
I saw him die."

Who caught his blood?
"I," said the fish,
"With my little dish,
I caught his blood."

Who'll make his shroud?
"I," said the beetle,
"With my thread and needle.
I'll make his shroud."

Who'll carry the torch?
"I," said the linnet,
"I'll come in a minute,
I'll carry the torch."

Who'll be the clerk?
"I," said the lark,
"If it's not in the dark,
I'll be the clerk."

Who'll dig his grave?
"I," said the owl,
"With my spade and trowel
I'll dig his grave."

Who'll be the parson?
"I," said the rook,
"With my little book,
I'll be the parson."

Who'll be chief mourner?
"I," said the dove,
"I mourn for my love,
I'll be chief mourner."

Who'll sing a psalm?
"I," said the thrush,
"As I sit in a bush.
I'll sing a psalm."

Who'll carry the coffin?
"I," said the kite,
"If it's not in the night,
I'll carry the coffin."

Who'll toll the bell?
"I," said the bull,
"Because I can pull,
I'll toll the bell."

All the birds of the air
Fell sighing and sobbing,
When they heard the bell toll
For poor Cock Robin.

I came across these beautiful Victorian illustrations of the nursery rhyme on the Daily Undertaker The full set can be found here.

Buried in a ‘Wasp Rockery’

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Posted by Vale

Gore Vidal died at the end of July aged 86. Although he would have wanted to be remembered as a writer and thinker, he was perhaps better known as a raconteur and wit with a vicious line in put downs. He had a long feud with writer Norman Mailer and once goaded the belligerent Mailer so much that he knocked Vidal down. As he fell to the floor Vidal managed to say ‘Ah, Norman, lost for words again’.

But then, with an insouciant air the GFG itself likes to sport, he believed that ‘Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.’

Dick Cavett, who used to host a TV chat show, has said that ‘You can be sure of one thing. Gore Vidal hates being dead. Unless of course we die and go somewhere you write, drink, have sex, appear on TV and, above all else, talk.’

It’s less well known that he had chosen and laid out his final resting place many years ago. His headstone of polished granite, marked with his date of birth, was in place and waiting only for his own death and interment for its inscription to be completed. The headstone includes Gore’s lifelong companion, Howard Austen, who died in 2003.

It’s in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington DC which dates back to the early 1700s. Christopher Hitchens called it a ‘WASP rockery’. You’d expect the patrician Vidal to want to keep distinguished company. Perhaps more unexpected is the suggestion that he chose his plot for another reason altogether. Nearby is the grave of Jimmie Trimble, a school friend and lover of Vidal’s who died on Iwo Jima. Jimmie was, the New York Times has suggested, ‘the only person with whom [Vidal] ever felt wholeness.’

Sources: Dick Cavett, Huffington Post

For the post mortem amusement of…

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Richard Brautigan

;

;

Posted by Vale

Richard Brautigan was a writer and a poet. He died not long ago, which makes this poem very timely. Ed Dorn wrote it ‘for the post mortem amusement of Richard Brautigan’. Let’s hope he is:

A B H O R RE N C E S
November 10, 1984
Death by over-seasoning: Herbicide
Death by annoyance: Pesticide
Death by suffocation: Carbon monoxide
Death by burning: Firecide
Death by falling: Cliffcide
Death by hiking: Trailcide
Death by camping: Campcide
Death by drowning: Rivercide
Lakecide
Oceancide
Death from puking: Curbcide
Death from boredom: Hearthcide
Death at the hands of the medical profession: Dockcide
Death from an overnight stay: Inncide
Death by suprise: Backcide
Death by blow to the head: Upcide
Death from delirious voting: Rightcide
Death from hounding: Leftcide
Death through war: Theircide & Ourcide
Death by penalty: Offcide
Death following a decision: Decide

Ed Dorn wrote the famous Gunslinger. Brautigan is best known for books like The Confederate General from Big Sur and Trout Fishing in America

Thanks to Celebrant Kim Farley for finding the poem.

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Disinherited!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Posted by Vale

Once in a while, looking around, it dawns on you that getting to the kitchen has become an obstacle course; setting off for the bedroom an orienteering event. It’s the moment you realise that your books have stopped furnishing your rooms and begun – like a literary occupy movement – to take them over. Bitter as it is, it’s the moment you realise that a clear out is needed.

We were tackling a pile or two recently (on the scree slopes in the dining room) when our son came in and cried out ‘but those are my heirlooms!’ It’s a comfort to know that my collection of Mazo de La Roche and Marks and Spencer Cookbooks will be in good hands after I am gone but, I thought, what will he do with the electronic books?

It’s a good question. Libraries (and record collections) can be read and loaned, treasured, split up and shared out – unless they are electronic. The problem is that you never wholly own a Kindle book – you simply purchase a right to read that is at present non-transferable. Equally a music collection bought from Apple cannot be passed on as digital content (legally at least). Nowadays the day you die is the day the music dies too. It’s a queer reversal.  In the past it was you that exited while your possessions lived on in other hands. In the digital world you will live on in a thousand guises, while it is your digital assets that fade away.

It looks as though you might as well be buried with your Nook or  your Kindle, iPods or iPad – new grave goods for the virtual afterlife. After all your books and music will already be safe, stowed away again in their own clouds.

Read more about it here.

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