Back last January I was a bit glum and bored, the household was a bit quarrelsome, I had a lot of time to myself and the country seemed to be sinking into nativism. I didn’t do anything about any of that stuff. What I did was put together a spreadsheet. I downloaded a list of UN-recognised countries and then spent a couple of days googling to find as many restaurants in London as I could that served the food belonging to those countries. Why? I didn’t have the first idea. I couldn’t afford my own dinner anywhere at the time.
This is the one that got away – I saw this painting in Bremen in January but sadly the Bremen Kunsthalle couldn’t provide me with the postcard. Still, I never finished the postcard posts – predictably, I became embarrassed by the idea before it was over – but here is a picture I do want to talk about and then maybe we can forget the whole thing happened and the next time I turn up here, who knows what I’ll be talking about.
Today’s post is the eighth of fourteen postcard posts, where I draw a card at random from my big box of them and try to say what I think about it. Here’s the rest of them.
They have really tiny feet! Even the unidentified chap who looks like he’s wearing old school football boots. It’s a wonder they don’t topple over.
The unidentified man looks like I’ve felt every time I’ve been to a wedding where I only know the bride. I like how he’s looking at us with none of the self-satisfaction that I read into the Brownes’ faces. He looks less fashionable than the brothers – I think, I’m hardly an expert on the fashions of 1598 – I notice that they have gone for subtler lace collars of the sort that you still see in later portraits. I love the way the brothers look posed and easily familiar with each other at the same time: it reminds me of the portraits of the Brown sisters (I didn’t realise the coincidence of the name until I was looking for that link).
I have no memory of seeing this picture or buying the postcard, but I know what will have drawn me to this picture: it’s the mystery of the fourth man and the texture of the brothers’ outfits. What does he want, that fourth guy? Why has he alone taken his hat off?
Today’s post is the seventh of
my fortnight (oops, missed a few days, let’s go for a number rather than a date) fourteen postcard posts, where I draw a card at random from my big box of them and try to say what I think about it. Here’s the rest of them.
Morell is using a pinhole in a blacked-out room to project what is happening in the wider world on to the walls of a room. This is the most basic of optical technology – the first camera obscura at the Observatory in Greenwich was built in the 17th century – but in Morell’s photos it gives magical results, like a fairytale queen’s mirror. I can’t look at these pictures without wanting to tape up my windows and give this a go – or at least I couldn’t before I read that each of these photos are exposed for 8 hours to allow for this degree of sharpness.
Today’s post is the sixth in my fortnight of postcard posts, where I draw a card at random from my big box of them and try to say what I think about it. Here’s the rest of them.
I think (the Chinese landscapes) impress people with having somewhat the same kind of mystery (historical) Chinese paintings have, but in my mind it’s a sort of pseudo-contemplative or mechanical subtlety…I’m not seriously doing a kind of Zen-like salute to the beauty of nature. It’s really supposed to look like a printed version.
Today’s post is the fifth in my fortnight of postcard posts, where I draw a card at random from my big box of them and try to say what I think about it. Here’s the rest of them.
I started wanting to look at these postcards as a method of distracting myself from the massive pile of ordure that is politics at the moment, and today’s postcard has, for a couple of reasons, dropped me back into it. I bought this postcard quite recently – on the 28th June, 2016 – on the first day I went any further than 500m outside my house after the EU referendum. I was still boiling with rage and had thought – it’s becoming a habit – that looking at some art might distract me. It didn’t. I walked down Millbank to get to the Tate having an argument on Twitter with someone who had voted Leave to bring about the great workers’ revolution. When I got there I found that while I’d been thinking about other things Tate had decided to stage an exhibition of British Conceptual Art. I couldn’t take the first thing in. I glared at the walls but nothing stuck. Continue reading
Today’s post is the fourth in my fortnight of postcard posts, where I draw a card at random from my big box of them and try to say what I think about it. Here’s the rest of them.
You really want a wall of the Bechers – the way I’ve always seen their work presented in galleries – rather than one small postcard but you take what you can get. How strange that anyone would put these weird concrete flourishes on a water tower, the Norman arches and the narrowing stripes on the head: from this angle I can’t tell quite whether they line up with the neck stripes. I’m not sure that I would feel too much affection for this building if it was down the road from me, but I like the picture. I entirely understand how I came to buy this postcard, but I don’t really understand what I think or feel about this, or not in a way I can put into words. Perhaps I’m looking for a profundity that isn’t there. Perhaps the sum of my honest reaction is ‘huh, look at that.’
Of course the, erm, creativity of 20th century Belgian architecture has been internet famous for a while, as a look at Ugly Belgian Houses will tell you.
Today’s post is the third in my fortnight of postcard posts, where I draw a card at random from my big box of them and try to say what I think about it. Here’s the rest of them.
I remember the day I got this postcard quite well: it was my 39th birthday and I’d gone to see What’s the point of it?, the Martin Creed exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. I have a feeling that this card was a proxy for the thing that I really wanted to remember, which was the giant neon sign that said MOTHERS scything through the air just above (most people’s) head height – you can see it at that last link. I’d thought that was funny and apt for a day of the year when I really ought to remember and be grateful for my mother.
Today’s post is the second in my fortnight of postcard posts, where I draw a card at random from my big box of them and try to say what I think about it. Here’s the rest of them.
It’s not going to get me on any lists of 2016’s most fashionable taste-makers but I love the Northern Renaissance, and in particular I love the sub-genre that is Sad Mary. To be entirely honest with you though, what I first thought when I saw this painting in Bruges’ Onthaalkerk Onze Lieve Vrow is that you could make quite a nice knitted hat inspired by the pleating of Mary’s veil, and I think reminding myself of that idea is why I have this postcard. I remember nodding reverently to the lady at the stall inside the church when I bought this, perhaps hoping to convince her that I wasn’t one of those tourists, I was deeper than that. I’m such a fraud: the way I feel about these paintings has little to do with piety.
Except it’s not November 5th, is it? It’s November 10th, terrible things are happening in the world and I can’t keep refreshing Twitter hoping to find the definitive, most pessimistic take. I need distraction while my mind works in the background on whether there’s anything any of us can do, and what it should be if there is.