The Art World

Tuesday 3rd April 2018

Art has been very preoccupying this month less so opera.

But I did take Lady Windermere’s Fan with Jenufa Saunders. A matinee. Laura Malcolm and I had were veiled for fear of being seen there. My dear! The audience! At a matinee. But really it’s rather a good play and they judged it well with a certain amount of contemporary TV nonsense and send-up balanced successfully with the more serious aspects. That actress who plays Mrs Merkel’s Assistant in the Tracey Ullman Show is The Wronged Woman.

Finn Magnus bid me last min to the Modigliani Exhibition at the Tate. Really we didn’t like it. Funny skin tones. They all had the same face, with pencil eyebrows. The bodies are often mis-shapen, oddly swollen below the waist as if the artist were not entirely competent in that area. In the Members’ Coffee Room afterwards, Finn showed me his knitting which was more fascinating.

The last of the Private Breakfasts took place at the Royal Academy. Disaster! Private access is receding fast. The next thing is: how to get into the opening party for the new extension? Royston King has already got his invitation, of course. As have quite a few other Poor Little Rich Gays, you can be sure. ¬†Aunt Lavinia has supplied me with a telephone number for sponsorship and donations. I’m going to ring and ask: How much do we have to give to get in?

What did we learn from the private curatorial tour of the Exhib? ¬†Royston says the Charles 1 Exhib helps us to understand Brexit. I can’t quite remember how. Charles 1 travelled in Europe, his wife was a daughter of the French king. He got the idea that one had to have an important collection from Europe and Italian artists of the Renaissance such as Titian and Mantegna formed an important part of it when it was formed. But there was also the appropriation of artists such as Van Dyke and Rubens, who became, as painters, honorary English not least because of the subject matter, which was mainly the King himself – and his family. So I suppose it’s that we have strong connections with Europe but are separate from it. Although there are barely any English artists in the exhib.

The great thing from the Private Tour was the tapestries. Our private curator did illuminate. These are the Mortlake Tapestries of the Raphael Cartoons. Or rather that’s the wrong way to explain it. The Cartoons were made by Raphael for the purpose of making tapestries. At the tapestry works they were cut into strips and laid below the loom (they had to be cut up to fit) for copying. Only later did someone realise the strips were original works by Raphael and glue them back together and put them in the V&A. When Desmond Shawe-Taylor and the Director of the Tapestries in France (where they are kept) had them unrolled and hung for their private viewing before the exhib, this was the first time anyone ever had seen them hanging all together in all their history. Tapestries are v. expensive for obvious reasons. Hours and hours of labour just to produce one square inch. The Royal Academy thought France might lend them two or three tapestries but never all six. But they did. They got all six.

It’s a shame that, after all that, the tapestries are tiny bit dreary. Although if one owned them and had them hanging in one’s drawing room one would love them of course.

Finally, early in March, Miss Mina organised a community outing to the British Museum. We had to pretend to be part of the Bangla Community of Bow and Mile End. Odd choice of Exhibition – for it was Posh English People in Greece (well, with one actual Greek, but privately wealthy). Patrick Leigh Fermor we decided we couldn’t bear. Just from the photos. Even Robert Nevil agreed. Frightfully conceited. No need to mention the fearsome purple prose and total inability to describe anything accurately, a bit of a failing in one who sets out to write about places. There was disagreement about John Cranko though. Robert Nevil brought a friend with him and they ganged up on me. I liked the privately wealthy Greek painter, but they said he was just decorative daubs. His grand residence in Greece was burnt down. Later he acquired another on Corfu. John Cranko was the thing, they said. Miss Mina chimed in as well. She’d know him. She had a postcard from him with. I thought they were all done with a ruler. There’s one of some sailors in a bar that’s a bit common. But they all were raving over the work. Anthony Mottram, of course, took one Oboe lesson from his sister, Janet Craxton, who was terrifying and incredibly old-school conservatoire. Back home I looked up the prices. Quite good and rising. A John Craxton sold recently for quarter a mill. Maybe if one owned one…

We thought This was Freya Stark, Glimpsed Outside British Museum. Anyway, a Classic Robert Nevil Lunch Guest

We thought This was Freya Stark, Glimpsed Outside British Museum. Anyway, a Classic Robert Nevil Lunch Guest

'Paddy' Leigh Fermor and Grand Friends. Yuck!

‘Paddy’ Leigh Fermor and Grand Friends. Yuck!

'Paddy' Leigh Fermor. Horrid

‘Paddy’ Leigh Fermor. Horrid

John Craxton: Better

John Craxton: Better

John Craxton Painting: a Bit Common

John Craxton Painting: a Bit Common

Painting by Rich Greek Artist: Nice

Painting by Rich Greek Artist: Nice

Painting by John Craxton: Done with Ruler?

Painting by John Craxton: Done with Ruler?

Useful Sign at BM. What would Inaccessible toilet be?

Useful Sign at BM. What would Inaccessible toilet be?

Finn Magnus's Knitting: Seen at the Modigliani Exhib at Tate Modern in the Members' Room

Finn Magnus’s Knitting: Seen at the Modigliani Exhib at Tate Modern in the Members’ Room

 

Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2018 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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