Monday, 2 August 2010

Voyage to Another World

Max Ernst, Katharina Ondulata, 1920

Alberto Giacometti, Woman with her Throat Cut, 1932

Cecil Collins, The Joy of the Worlds, 1937

Hannah Höch, From the Collection: from an Ethnographic Museum, 1929

Ithell Colquhoun, Rivières Tièdes, 1939

Just back from Edinburgh, where I paid a visit to The Dean Gallery to see Another World: Dalí, Magritte, Miró and the Surrealists, which covers the familiar ground implied by the title as well as a few of the more obscure and neglected figures from the Dada and Surrealist movements. A room is dedicated to the British Surrealists, with several names that are new to me (John Armstrong, Sam Haile, Grace Pailthorpe, Reuben Mednikoff) as well as works by Leonora Carrington, Paul Nash, Henry Moore and Edward Wadsworth. (I had no idea that the zoologist, writer and TV presenter Desmond Morris is also a Surrealist painter.)

There are a couple of paintings by the English artist and occultist Ithell Colquhoun, including the one above (the image doesn't do justice to the colours and detail of the original). I'm halfway through her startlingly odd (and only) novel Goose of Hermogenes, more information on which can be found along with Colquhoun's original cover design at A Journey Round My Skull. Those with a modest amount of disposable income may wish to settle for the current edition (below), as I did.

Speaking of magic, there seems to be quite some interest at the moment in the overlap between art and the occult, judging from how quicky the catalogue for the Tate's Dark Monarch exhibition sold out and stayed sold out. I finally got hold of a copy, and it was worth the wait (I could have done without Morrissey's contribution, but then I'm allergic to Morrissey). Also interesting, if rather poorly written (and according to some reviews poorly researched), is Nadia Choucha's Surrealism and the Occult, which reveals just how prevalent these ideas were throughout Dada and Surrealism.


On the way we stopped off at the Armitt Museum and Library in Ambleside to see an exhibition of new works by Russell Mills and Ian Walton, displayed alongside some paintings and collages by Kurt Schwitters (who spent his last years in the Lake District). You can see Mills's contributions here. Mills and Walton certainly have some unconventional working methods - I think my favourite of the collage elements listed is "baked polaroid".

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