Painting

Corpsey

call me big papa
Went to see Titian exhibition at the National Gallery today. It's basically one room. Each painting depicts a story from Ovid. There's a lot of nudity (erotic to minds not shattered by porn), flailing red garments, dogs, stags, putti etc.

At first I walked in and felt the familiar sense of disappointment and confusion re: my lack of enthusiasm for Titian, who is seen by many as the greatest painter OAT.

But after a while I realised that the longer I looked at each painting, the more I discovered in them and the more entrancing and mysterious they appeared.

For my taste, at least, I think Titian's paintings can be very ugly at first sight. In part this is because they're 500 years old and in many the colour has faded to become somewhat sludgy. But there's also a messiness to their composition (or so it seems), packed as they are with people, animals and objects. What it's easy to see is that his use of colour and light balances everything so it doesn't look A COMPLETE mess. But still, there is a messiness to them, in my eyes.

And if you expect him to be the most beautiful painter then you might be confused and disappointed. But if you look at his paintings for subtlety, not sensation (though they have sensation, these bits sticking out a mile, e.g. Bacchus's red cloak frozen over his arching horny shoulder), if you start intently scanning his figures for their expressions and emotions, if you also remember that he is working in a symbolic/allegorical mode, not a naturalistic mode, despite the amazing palpability of some of his textures (e.g. Europa's legs, Europa's wet clothes, the wet hair of Jupiter the bull overlying the shorter fur of his shoulders). Then you'll be a titian fan, my son...

So I left well pleased that I'd got some sort of handle on why he is so worshipped.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
Also I was reminded of how insufficient reproductions are. I went to the shop and there were reproductions of all the paintings. They were all so small, lacking in texture, etc. I had to go back in again, realising that only when looking at the real thing itself can you experience the real thing itself.
 

jenks

thread death
Went to see Titian exhibition at the National Gallery today. It's basically one room. Each painting depicts a story from Ovid. There's a lot of nudity (erotic to minds not shattered by porn), flailing red garments, dogs, stags, putti etc.

At first I walked in and felt the familiar sense of disappointment and confusion re: my lack of enthusiasm for Titian, who is seen by many as the greatest painter OAT.

But after a while I realised that the longer I looked at each painting, the more I discovered in them and the more entrancing and mysterious they appeared.

For my taste, at least, I think Titian's paintings can be very ugly at first sight. In part this is because they're 500 years old and in many the colour has faded to become somewhat sludgy. But there's also a messiness to their composition (or so it seems), packed as they are with people, animals and objects. What it's easy to see is that his use of colour and light balances everything so it doesn't look A COMPLETE mess. But still, there is a messiness to them, in my eyes.

And if you expect him to be the most beautiful painter then you might be confused and disappointed. But if you look at his paintings for subtlety, not sensation (though they have sensation, these bits sticking out a mile, e.g. Bacchus's red cloak frozen over his arching horny shoulder), if you start intently scanning his figures for their expressions and emotions, if you also remember that he is working in a symbolic/allegorical mode, not a naturalistic mode, despite the amazing palpability of some of his textures (e.g. Europa's legs, Europa's wet clothes, the wet hair of Jupiter the bull overlying the shorter fur of his shoulders). Then you'll be a titian fan, my son...

So I left well pleased that I'd got some sort of handle on why he is so worshipped.
That’s really good on Titian - I don’t really feel strongly when I look at his paintings but I am impressed - especially with his skill to paint textures - furs, cloths, drapery whatever. Some bits even appear awkward - gestures towards something in his looseness with the paint but undoubtedly his canvasses have an incredible balance which doesn’t feel contrived (although obviously it is!)
In terms of GOAT for me it’s Rembrandt- he seems to be ploughing a far more human furrow. It always feels like an encounter when I see one of his paintings.
I’ve mentioned it before but T J Clarke’s book “Sight of Death” is excellent on really scrutinising a couple of paintings and the riches it can produce. I really recommend it.
 

sufi

lala
I also find Titian hard to appreciate, not meeting expectations.
in order to value titian it's as if you have to assign some extra bonus points so to incentivise getting past the clunkiness - bonus points for being 500+ years, bonus points for moving the history of art forward compard to his predecessors - and these are factors that don't present themselves to you naturally, so you need to sign up to the art history in order to do titian.
that's ok as there's plenty of wisdom there, but not really ok in that it's an old school discipline, not yet decolonised and subject to a lot of possible skullduggery around attributions, interpretations, dating and so on, it's nothing like an exact science, it's a huge rickety construction with titian balancing precariously up there.
what was titian supposed to have brung to the field? is it a combination of improved naturalism with action scenes, lots of movement and superhero style styling.
this epic, for example where god (?) swoops down on a hangglider to annunciate the virgin phwoar!
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
I read that Vasari showed Michelangelo a painting by Titian and although Michelangelo praised it to Titian's face privately he remarked to Vasari that it's a shame these Venetian painters aren't taught to draw. And you can see what he meant (if he said it) because the bodies are sometimes awkwardly drawn.

Aside from the quality of the paintings themselves I think one of the reasons Titian is said to be the GOAT is that he fundamentally changed painting in a way that gave birth to so many painters after him. The way he portrayed people with psychological depth. The way he integrated people into landscape. The way he used colour and light.

For example I strolled through the rest of the gallery after and when looking at the Constable and Turner paintings it struck me that it was necessary that Titian existed for these painters to exist.

Titian didn't emerge from a vacuum of course, he learned from Giorgione and Bellini, for example (not to mention Michelangelo), but I think part of his greatness is in what he brought to painting that others took on from him.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
Ah man just deleted a long reply...

Maybe I'll motivate myself to rewrite it later. Anyway, it was basically about the messiness of Titian's compositions vs. the immaculate composition of Raphael... With reference to Lucien Freud's worshipping of Titian (particularly "Diana and Actaeon") and loathing of Raphael.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
Incidentally, I think I'm with you on Rembrandt.

Another painter I've been trying to appreciate lately having read so much about his importance and genius is Cezanne, who also (imo) paints in an apparently ugly and awkward way.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
This is the one for me (always at the NG, and not part of the 'poesies' series they've reunited in one room)...

1280px-Titian_Bacchus_and_Ariadne.jpg

I'd also love to see this one (it's at the Prado i think)

Bacanal_de_los_andrios.jpg
 

jenks

thread death
Incidentally, I think I'm with you on Rembrandt.

Another painter I've been trying to appreciate lately having read so much about his importance and genius is Cezanne, who also (imo) paints in an apparently ugly and awkward way.
Yeah Cezanne - so distinctive but can also appear so wooden when painting people. I think for him he is trying to resolve some fundamental intellectual point - that constant returning to a small set of objects - whether it’s apples or the view of the mountains outside - the thingness of something and the constant shifting and slipping of light. I have great admiration of those painters who constantly worry away at something. One of my favourites is Chardin - the simplicity yet difficulty is brilliant and head spinning.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
L-1284-00-000001-wpu.jpg
This one's on loan to the NG at the moment and again the reproduction won't do it justice. But if you stand there and stare at it it has an uncanny effect. Something like movement and depth.

There's a very interesting quote from Beckett about Cezanne that I'll paste if I can find online but otherwise right now can't be bothered to type up. Essentially he affirms that Cezanne was the first landscape painter to show landscape as what it really is, divorced from human sentimentality and anthropomorphism.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
Beckett’s thing is the human subject glimpsed as a reducible but not expungable thing among other things, tirelessly pursued in virtually all of his work (p. 232). He never sought to privilege the self as subject and did not like art that did so. He understood Cézanne landscapes as “incommensurable with all human expression” and possessed of an “impassable immensity” between landscape and the gazing subject. He complained that there was “nothing of the kind” in painters like Constable and Turner, where he saw only nature “infected with spirit.”
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
I think Titian's later paintings are more obviously impressive to Modern eyes. They're dark (visually and emotionally), violent, expressive, impressionistic, sometimes unfinished. The flora and fauna of classicism (which seems hackeneyed and meaningless to us) is dispensed with or dunked in blood.

1280px-Entierro_de_Cristo_(Tiziano).jpg
Titian_-_The_Flaying_of_Marsyas.jpg
1239px-The_Crowning_with_Thorns_by_Titian_-_Alte_Pinakothek_-_Munich_-_Germany_2017.jpg
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
During the last twenty years of his life Titian’s personal oeuvre, as opposed to those which assistants produced under his supervision, showed an increasing looseness in the handling of the paint and a sensitive merging of colors which makes them more and more immaterial. To achieve this he began to paint with his fingers as well as a brush. Titian began to value the exploration of the colour above all other aspects of art. His style and technique were evolving from the more precise contours such as modeling and finish of the early portraits to a much bolder, freer style with more highly charged brushwork. He handled the paint increasingly broadly, creating a mosaic like effect, with patches of colour.

Titian’s influence on later artists has been profound: he was supreme in every branch of painting and revolutionized the oil technique with his free and expressive brushwork. Vasari wrote of this aspect of his late works, “they are executed with bold, sweeping strokes, and in patches of color, with the result that they cannot be viewed from near by, but appear perfect at a distance. The method he used is judicious, beautiful, and astonishing, for it makes pictures appear alive and painted with great art, but it conceals the labor that has gone into them.”
.
 

WashYourHands

Well-known member
Drunk Man (whose one leg might be Florida) kills the serpent of temptation and we all return to Eden, even The Joker. Cowards forsake Eden by pranking The Joker and we all get expelled again. The only answer then is everyone goes on the piss permanently, whereupon we all become Drunk Man.
 
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