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Monday, 26 June 2017

Doors and Windows (3): Balham, London

The last post in this series was five years ago so I can say  that it's fairly infrequent!
This photo is borrowed, with permission, from Philip Wilkinson's excellent
I am a big fan of English brickwork and the Edwardian and late Victorian suburban streets of London are a bountiful place to see it on display. The beautifully ornate porch and windows are also typical of the period. Many of the houses have black and white or terracotta tiled paths as well. Philip points out in his post that Balham seems to have plenty of houses using Suffolk white bricks as well as the more usual red, brown and yellow.
Many of these house have glorious stained-glass windows in the doors and porches. Sadly many of these are being replaced with modern double-glazed, clear replacements. This includes the one that I featured here.
Modern houses seem to be all about utility which is fair enough but I think we have lost something by not celebrating both the skills of the craftsmen and the aesthetic appeal of recent bygone times.
Other examples of tiled paths of the same era
I'm listening to Kirsty MacColl singing
Billy Bragg's A New England

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Painting of the Month (72) June 2017: Lucian Freud

Lucian Freud was the grandson of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, so it is perhaps not surprising that he started his painting career working as a surrealist but soon switched to a kind of expressionist realism. He was a very private man and painted only those close to him, portraits of his friends and family and in a major way, of himself. In fact he was obsessed about self-portraiture.
Self Portrait, Lucian Freud, 1985

He has provided a comprehensive, unflattering history over many decades. And not only of himself; he managed to make the model, Kate Moss, appear ugly! He is known for "unflinching observations of anatomy and psychology". Once established his style did not really change much over six decades. It seems to have been inevitable that the long, intense sessions with his sitters have led to comparison with the way that his grandfather, Sigmund, worked.
Although Freud eschewed the avant-garde of his contemporaries, such as David Hockney, he was strikingly unusual in his detailed depiction of genitalia and secondary sexual characteristics in general. His explicit  illustrations showed the same level of detail that a botanical painter of flowers might show. 
He is regarded as one of the leading self-portraitists of the twentieth century. He did not -exhibit the range of earlier self-portraitists such as Rembrandt or Van Gogh but he revealed psychological insights into all of his subjects in a new way.
Freud with Kate Moss and his painting of her
I'm listening to Loudain Wainwright III, a much underrated singer-songwriter whose searing honesty sometimes makes me wince when I listen to his songs. Here is a song about his time living in London: Primrose Hill. Have a listen.