08 June 2015

RE take / RE invent diary film 3 02 04 15

In this third film of making the first series of studies after the Thomas Jones, we talk about the painting of the walls and brushwork in Buildings in Naples and how this leads to forming layers in the new paintings.

02 June 2015

Editor's Choice: The Conversation 15.05.15

The world’s most expensive painting is too sexually explicit for Fox news

Full pre editorial article:

Picasso At Auction: Is Picasso’s Painting worthy to be the World’s Most Expensive Painting?

Pablo Picasso's Women of Algiers (Version O) that has recently sold for a record breaking price at Christie’s auction house, New York is a seminal painting in a number of different ways. Firstly, it is the last and arguably the best in a large series of paintings working from the same subject, made over a short time early in 1955. It is a homage to Matisse, who had recently died, but also importantly referencing Delacroix, one of Picasso’s great Masters to whom he returned again and again throughout his career to reinterpret through what is a called transcription, the reworking of a previous subject or theme. Indeed, the catalogue entries for this series of paintings includes, After Delacroix in the titles. In this final painting, all of the compositional changes and alterations that Picasso has been working through in the series (only made between January and February 1955) had come to a point of culmination. The painting features four femal figures, referencing Jacqueline Roque, Picasso’s most recent partner who strikingly resembled the central figure of the Delacroix painting Femmes d'Alger of 1834 (Louvre, Paris) and Francoise Gilot, Picasso’s former lover, who is there in the doorway retreating into background. It is a secluded interior with eroticism; calm and refined with sharpened edges to the limbs, torsos and body parts, accentuated and almost upturned gestures and positioning. Characteristically for Picasso who worked incessantly in series over years and decades, there are in this painting, absorbed forms, dissolved and recomposed motifs as the artist is looking for a new pictorial structure and dynamic. Jacqueline Roque had recently entered Picasso’s life for the final phase of his life, and is represented in sensual erotic form; Francoise exits and drifts back towards the doorway and on the day before this painting was made Picasso’s early wife Olga (mother of Paulo) dies in Cannes. Not only with this grand concoction of life and art being present in this painting but with the additional historical context that Delacroix’s painting was made shortly after the French conquest of Algeria and during the autumn of 1954 Algeria’s uprising for independence began, we have the recipe for a major painting in the history of art.  


The auction painting is the last and certainly one of the best of the transcriptions Picasso made. It has been widely shown in major exhibitions including the Picasso Retrospective in New York, 1980 and the great Late Picasso show at Tate Britain in 1988 making it highly visible and desirable for collectors. It does sit as one of the major works of Picasso’s later career partly because it does reference the history of art with regard to Picasso’s awareness of the passing of Matisse and the context that both artists felt they identified with the continuation and tradition of painting. It is probably worthy of the top price for art because aside from the fact that Picasso is the towering figure of twentieth century art this is a well exhibited artwork and is from an important point in the artist’s life and creative output. In fact, it is quite unusual that such a well known work comes to the auction room at all and as such, it was almost bound to break all previous auction records. But the question now remains as to whether or not it will be seen in public again. If not, and as the buyer is anonymous (the painting was in the Victor Ganz collection, New York) this suggests that may be the case and then this would be a loss to the art visiting public as the panting will disappear from public view to be kept exclusively in a private gallery and not available for loan for maybe decades to come. What can we, as the art visiting public, actually do? Well, very little except to ensure that the art we have in national public galleries are maintained and secure for us, the art viewing public to be able to continue to experience works first hand and moreover for governments to ensure that strategies for acquiring works for the nation are in place and used effectively.  Recently, a collection of 40 paintings by Frank Auerbach belonging to his friend the painter Lucien Freud who died in 2011 have been distributed to about 20 galleries including Cardiff, Aberdeen and Belfast in lieu of a 16m inheritance tax bill. The collection includes some important works and it is encouraging that these have not entered the auction rooms and will remain for public gaze. There are ways for governments to act on the public’s behalf and secure, whenever possible, quality artworks to add to our national collections of art. For now, for those of us fortunate to have seen Women of Algiers (Version O) first hand, the painting will remain a residual image in our memory until perhaps sometime in the future it resurfaces via the auction houses once again.

01 June 2015

RE take / RE invent diary film 2 - 21.03.15

In this film I reflect on the perceived distance from Jones at this stage and on the usefulness of tracking the work in relation to the process of making.