Art and light

I have been in Paris most of the week (half term). Hence no contemporaneous blogging, and some notes now on all the culture around which I was dragged by the more refined members of the family:

The Centre Pompidou –- a huge Rauschenberg exhibition. Some of it quite good. A real feeling for colour and perhaps texture, though there is in fact no painting which can be improved by adding a dead bird, something demonstrated inadvertentlyseveral times over here. More fun is Yves Klein, a frightful old fraud who got pretty models to roll on large sheets of paper, and squidge themselves enticingly against it. Aesthetically, none of those was much cop though he did have some quite lovely sheets of burnt pasteboard, and good paintings into which some of his sponges had been incorporated. Also, there was a film of M. Klein applying paint to one of his brushes with a rag, and then directing her around the canvas while he held his cigarette at an imperative angle. The FWB and I got the giggles and had to leave.

There was a distinct and non-aesthetic thrill to seeing the prints of a model’s underparts on the paper. So much more erotic than what was on offer at the Sexodrome and similar establishments up between the Place Pigalle and the Place Clichy. Our landlady, a thin-nosed, perfectly Parisian woman, said that it had been much nastier, but was all right now that the excuser le mot –- racaille -– had been removed.

One of the best bits of Yves Klein was in the very entrance to the exhibition,a large white room hung with six our eight large rectangular canvases, all entirely of the same shade of blue. [Thanks to Ian Douglas for the link] Against that background, the ensemble was simple and moving. But it seems to me that the curator and the the man who arranged the temperature of the lighting deserve at least as much credit for the final effect as the painter. I would have liked to take pictures of the Rauschenbergs, but it was of course forbidden. I didn’t trust anyone else’s reproductions to capture the colour (though, who knows? perhaps the 52€ catalogue has them right). It must be part of the specification of these non-figurative, colour dependent paintings that they be exhibited in a particular temperature of light. Where is this explained or talked about?

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