I Got Totally Saturated....

Saturated by culture that is..
Went to London for the day yesterday.
So happy to meet up with my great friend from art school - for the first time in fifteen years..
It was fantastic to catch up, thank you lovely girl

We went to two exhibitions - the Agnes Martin at Tate Modern and the Joseph Cornell at the Royal Academy.
Martin combined soft gentle pastel ephemeral colours and a wiry graphite line:


with the intense obsession of grids and lines, dots and triangles; sometimes with millimetres between the meticulously ruled lines:


Some of the pieces were almost exhausting in their intensity.
For me the smaller works on paper had more immediacy - but also her foray into working in 3D was interesting, with very bold, almost a controlled violence in the handling of materials on that one on the plinth:


Martin's earlier pieces showed a joy of working with paint and of mixing colours:

 - whereas the later ones seem to use the paint straight from the tube, watered right down.
I feel there is a demarcation in her work; it becomes clear when her mental state changes (she became or was bi-polar). Once she stopped teaching, when she began to cut herself off - the intensity strengthens and the freedom leaves her hand.
It is only in the very latest paintings - when Agnes Martin hit her late 80s and turned 90 years old that there seems to be a renewed ease and relaxed application of the paint - perhaps a physical frailty meant she had to start to let go of all that control..?:


There's a good review HERE

After that we made our way over to the Royal Academy for a very different exhibition experience - the Joseph Cornell:

What a charming show - an utterly absorbing collection of his work.
Cornell was a consummate constructor of poignancy and nostalgia - with just a smattering of romance.
Every piece of his was intricately composed - the placement of objects juxtaposed to create a balanced harmony - the ease of which on the eye deceives you into thinking they are simple and may have been speedy productions - but no.
They often took years to make as Cornell waited for just the right objects to present themselves for his combination:


We are used to seeing similar imagery these days with the renewed popularity of collage as a medium for art and illustration.
Also many mass-produced items replicate this mix-match of 'victoriana' type imagery, so I had to put this connection from my mind in order to see the freshness of Cornell's work.
It was a privilege to be able to spend time scrutinising his intricate pieces and to learn more about his process:


 He made a concertina - which depicted a kind of story - a little narrative sequence of images that related and led on from each other - a thought for how to develop on from the two concertinas I made for the exhibition in July...:

Cornell's - makes it look easy

mine - yep, needs work....

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