ON POETRY, WRITING AND RANDOM CULTURAL MATTERS

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Hidden Paris - Musee Guimet

Have you been to Angkor Wat? No, me neither, but it's on my list of must sees. In lieu, many of the sculptures are to be found in Paris, who knew?

Well not me until I went to the Musee Guimet, which is the Asian art museum, packed with mainly devotional works from Japan to Tibet, which means lots and lots and lots of Buddhas. Fabulous.

I realise it's not exactly hidden as it is right next to Metro Iena, but it was new to me.

There are temporary exhibits as well. The current freebies included Japanese prints, featuring the predictably salacious with graphic translations, and a wonderful room size bamboo weaving by Shouchiku Tanabe.

A great way to spend the afternoon. Highly recommended, except the tea is ludicrously over priced. Pity that as I was in the mood for some Oolong.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Beat Generation at the Pompidou


If you've never seen the scroll, hithee. If you have, hithee again. It doesn't come out to play very often. If you don't know what I am talking about then this exhibition really isn't for you.

The trouble with trying to make an art exhibition from what was essentially a literary movement, yes, I know Kerouac painted and the Beats made some dodgy films, is that it doesn't really work. There is no substitute for the words on the page. Sitting and reading them. Quietly. Alone.

There are words on the page, not that the scroll is especially legible these days, which fits its iconic status. And there are manuscripts of Howl and Kaddish to be drooled over, but that is no substitute for personal reading.


There are just too many photographs, not all of them actually that good as photographs, even if taken by famous poets.

Nice try Pompidou. A good effort at doing something different, timed well so as to maximise American visitor numbers. But no, not enough explanation, cultural criticism, historical, political and social context for anyone coming to the Beats relatively unschooled.

Yes, it's good to see first editions of Burroughs and the film of a young Dylan, but otherwise, meh, really, a great, big meh.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Paul Klee at the Pompidou

I don't know that much about Klee. I have never really liked his work, or rather, that which I have seen, the blocky things, the cubist things, the Bauhaus things, so this retrospective of his entire oevre is welcome, even if it's taken me months to get around to it, and I almost left it too late.

I still don't much like Klee. It must be the colour palette; all those browns and dark things that make me depressed. However the landscapes sing and some of his titles are positively brilliant, all music -Harmony of the Northern Flora being my winner on this score. There are some scary puppets, which was a surprise, as were the early satirical drawings.

Worth a whizz round before 1 August if you get fed up of the adjacent Beat exhibition. But don't make a special trip unless you are a die hard devotee.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Georgia O'Keeffe at Tate Modern


Yep, it's the summer block buster and yes, it's well worth your attention, although the ticket prices are astronomical. Nineteen pounds for an adult, really? I heard it was packed on the weekends, so we went on a Thursday morning. It was busy, but not unpleasantly so.

A great survey of her work over seven decades from early charcoal abstractions, to New York views I had never seen before and was not exactly thrilled by, to the well known flowers, arroyos, mesas and bones.

If you are expecting enormous blooms all the way, you will be disappointed as there is just one room representing these But if you want to engage with O'Keeffe's vision of landscape, especially New England and, of course, the South West, then you will be thrilled. Carefully interspersed with Stieglistz' and Adams' photographs that add context.

Well curated, well explained and the catalogue is a must. It is surprising how small some of the canvases actually are. In my mind's eye they are vast like their subject matter. I guess that's her trick. and a clever one it is too. Masterful American modernism at its finest.