Sunday, 1 February 2015

Clough and Morandi

John Renshaw: 12th December 2014

Notes made during my visit to the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.


The following random notes and collected references were initiated during the gallery visit. I was simply searching for clues regarding a possible source for my planned visual excursions. I also made further notes on my train journey home. These were simply quite random thoughts and inevitably somewhat imprecise. They have since been expanded  (with the support of additional of references and quotations) .I hope they will continue to reflect my thoughts and intentions as things progress.


How do I select a specific work of art from which to draw inspiration? 

Form (i.e. visual appearance, material qualities etc.)

Content, Context, Process?

Distinctions between subject and content?

The issue of an artists  ‘personal style’?

Perhaps the method of handling and managing the medium of paint is an important issue?

‘… as far as I can see, an artistic medium is the only thing in human existence that has precisely the same range of sensed feeling as people themselves do...’ (Motherwell cited in Terenzio 1992, p139 - Terenzio S. (ed.) (1992) The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell, Oxford; Oxford University Press.

 A transcription is not a copy


The problem of describing the process of making a painting remains challenging:


“ Verbal description stops visual mediation in its tracks - and the more brilliant and profound that description is the more deadly in its effect in freezing or arresting the instinctive flow of the purely visual thinking which, in the painter, first produces the painting and, in the spectator, lies at the heart of his experience of the painting ‘ (Patrick Heron - The Shape of Colour rep in  “ Concerning Contemporary Art - The Power Lectures 1968 - 1973 ed. Bernard Smith Clarendon Press. Oxford 1975. P.157).


The challenge is not a question of ‘copying’, but a question of interpreting and responding to the work of another person. Process might appear a particularly significant issue here? Responding entirely to the ‘visual’ evidence may suggest the need to compromise. Thus it may certainly prove necessary to challenge or test ones established personal visual vocabulary.



".......... When you've done something a lot, it gets built into your arm, and wrist and just comes out - in the way you might use a certain phrase habitually, though in wholly different contexts". (Robert Motherwell - interview with David Hayman 12 & 13 July 1988. from 'The collected writings of Robert Motherwell' edited by Stephanie Terenzio. Oxford University press 1992. ISBN 0-19-507700-8.)


‘…when you paint you don’t choose to paint the way you paint, how you make a shape or a form. You are compelled to make it that way because it reflects your nature and you are therefore able to recognise it as being true, and then you leave it that way’ (Sean Scully in interview with Dr. Hans Michael Herzog 1999, see exhibition catalogue: Timothy Taylor Gallery, London – no pagination)


Towards the end of the days visit to the gallery I discovered paintings by Giorgio Morandi and Prunella Clough. I have found the work of both artists to be of particular interest over a number of years. The Morandi in the collection was a particularly good example. The painting by Clough was quite an early work and, although a strong image, it had been her more recent paintings that I have always found to be more significant.
This post continues on my page..

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