Whilst many of the important Nikolai Astrup paintings were out on tour to places such as the Dulwich Picture Gallery, Bergen offered a selection of work to demonstrate his emergence as an artist. Since Astrup is hardly known outside of Norway, it shouldn’t be a surprise that few of these are household names. Norwegian art for us begins and ends with Munch, alas.
Two artists muscle to the front of early nineteenth century British art: Turner and Constable. Turner, because of Summer exhibition, yadda yadda, varnishing day, yadda yadda, red paint, yadda yadda, it’s a boat and Constable, because between some prints in the living room and six table mats, he was probably the only artist to make it into my childhood home. I can’t help but feel that William Blake and John Martin are better and more interesting than both, but I suspect time has made them more seem conservative than they deserve. There was a huge retrospective of Constable’s big paintings at the V&A a couple of years ago (I suspect I have notes somewhere), but he doesn’t get me excited.
My Back to the Woods (National Gallery, 11 May-30 October 2016)
George Shaw is that rare beast, a painter who has been nominated for the Turner Prize. I was enough lucky to see the exhibition at the BALTIC, Gateshead, and to my mind it was the best work.
It couldn’t possibly win.
I don’t mean that in a modern art is crap way. I like contemporary art. I just haven’t found myself agreeing with the winners that often. Continue reading →