Cézanne, Morandi, and Sanyo

A beautiful exhibition at Gagosian.

A small number of Cézannes.

Fleurs dans un pot d’olives (1880-2):-

Arbres et maisons au bord de l’eau (1892-3):-

Deux fruits (c.1885):-

Juxtaposed with work by Morandi.

Natura morta (1954):-

Natura morta (1953):-

Natura morta (1955):-

And by Sanyu, a Chinese artist who spent most of his life and died in Paris (and friend in New York of Robert Frank).

The work was selected by Zeng Fanzhi, with a painter’s eye.


West Kowloon Cultural District

I came to see what progress has been made on the West Kowloon Cultural District – the great cultural enterprise of the Hong Kong government, which invested HK$21.6 billion out of surplus tax revenues in 2006 to establish Hong Kong as a cultural centre, with a masterplan drawn up by Norman Foster.

The site is amazing, on the north side of the harbour on reclaimed land :-

The building of M+, the museum part of the project, designed by Herzog and de Meuron, is coming along:-

Meanwhile, there is a temporary pavilion with an exhibition by Danh Vo, a Danish Vietnamese artist, with Isamu Noguchi, Japanese American.


Older Voters

I was very sorry to read that John Humphrys had apparently dismissed those who marched on Saturday as ‘grey haired marchers with their snidey little placards’. Coming from someone who is himself 75, I would have hoped that he might have recognised that there is some significance in the huge numbers of older people, the postwar generation who lived through an era of optimism, who had come out onto the streets to reveal their disillusion in a government which has treated the results of a referendum, narrowly split, as absolute.

Also, according to research at the LSE, it is worth noting that the older generation is not monolithic. Those who lived through the war are generally in favour of Europe. Those who came after are more likely to take the benefits of peace for granted, and to resent the move to federalism.


Hong Kong (1)

I’ve always liked Hong Kong: the sense of intense compression, of hyper-activity in a small compass, high hills locking the tower blocks alongside the harbour on reclaimed land.

These are photographs taken on a grey cloudy day, out of the hotel window:-


Bernard Venet

My first stop in Hong Kong was over the hill to Wong Chuk Hang to see the exhibition by Bernard Venet at the de Sarthe gallery:-

Hyper-vigorous action painting:-


La Forza Del Destino

Just recovering from the wonderful matinee at Covent Garden of La Forza del Destino: a beautifully well judged production, austere sets, cinematic projections, love, passion, murder, a monastery, and death, with Jonas Kaufmann as Don Alvaro and Anna Netrebko as Donna Leonora, both magnificent. There are dud bits, but that’s the fault of the opera and they don’t detract from the central drama. We loved it.


Visitor Numbers

I am still habituated to studying the Art Newspaper’s annual publication of visitor numbers worldwide.

Some observations:-

Nearly as many people saw a sampling of Tate Britain’s collection in Shanghai as visit it in London.

The Guggenheim in Bilbao always does amazingly well in terms of its exhibitions (eg Joana Vasconcelos), better than any exhibition in London.

The British Museum has traditionally been at least a million above Tate Britain and the National Gallery. No more.

I’m pleased that the numbers at the Royal Academy were so good. A record for the Summer Exhibition and 1.6 million in toto, significantly more, I think, than ever before.

Check out @TheArtNewspaper’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/TheArtNewspaper/status/1109715540426326016?s=09


The March (3)

I’ve been thinking about the March.

Of course, many people were middle class, but this is not unrepresentative of the population as a whole. They were young and old. They came from all over. And they stretched all the way from Parliament Square to Hyde Park Corner. The Prime Minster talks as if she has a hot line to ‘the people’. But it may just consist of pillow talk with her husband, bunkered as she so obviously is in Downing Street.

The other thing was the diversity of the speakers at the rally which might have been manufactured, as was the faintly absurd faux nationalist video at the beginning, but felt natural – cross party, cross generational, including politicians of different stripes, putting national interests first. Isn’t this preferable to the brutal and aggressive sectarianism which has been recently unleashed ?


The March (2)

I should maybe have said, which was obvious from the speeches from the podium, that there is now a substantial, if not dominant middle ground, in which Anna Soubry is able to share a podium with David Lammy and Dominic Grieve can speak after Tom Watson; but that this middle ground is weirdly absent currently from the mainstream of British politics because of the rival extremism of the two main parties, and, most especially, of their leaders. So, if I come away with any sense of optimism – and there is not much to be optimistic about – it is that this middle ground can come together and exert itself effectively through the debates in the House of Commons and the voting process in the week ahead.