Newsletter - October 2014
Annual General Meeting
Our AGM, preceded by a glass of wine, was held before the October lecture but unfortunately our Secretary, Elaine Mitchell, was unable to attend. Gill Hatton stepped into the breach to take the Minutes. Geoff Westwell is retiring and his steady hand on the finances will be missed as well as the hospitality he and Kath have provided for all our committee meetings. Four members of the Committee have volunteered to wear new hats, and will move into different jobs, and we wish them well in their new roles. Elaine will take over as Treasurer and Tina Feilden as Secretary. Fiona Musters becomes Programme Secretary, and Naomi Milne takes over the role of Visits Co-ordinator.
An exhibition entitled ‘Reality: Modern & Contemporary British Painting’ is now on at the Sainsbury Centre and will run until 1st March next year. This show brings together over 50 works celebrating the strength of British painting with some of the best and most influential artists of the last sixty years. Artists such as Walter Sickert, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, David Hockney are represented. Highly recommended!
Special Event – NADFAS East Anglia Area
Monday 24 November 2014 - 2.15pm -
Lecture by CHLOE SAYER
‘Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: The Golden Age of Mexican Painting’
Chloë Sayer is a freelance specialist and outstanding lecturer on Latin-American art and culture. She has published articles about Frida Kahlo and other Mexican artists in The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Art & Design Magazine etc
3.15 – 3.45 Interval
3.45 – 5.45 ‘Frida’ (USA 2002. Cert 15)
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera were married in 1929. Their turbulent marriage and the turbulent times they lived through are the subject of the film ‘Frida’.
‘Michelangelo the Artist and Michelangelo the Man’ was the subject of our October lecture, and Caroline Brooke gave us an entertaining and informative address on the subject. In Renaissance times it was not done to look for the personality of the artist in the work, but she said she was going to take a more modern look at this particular artist.
Michelangelo was born in Florence in 1475; he was an avid writer of letters so we have his voice as well as the opinion of his contemporaries. In ‘The Lives of the Artists’ Vasari describes Tuscan art is the best of all, and Michelangelo as ‘the divine one’. Parallels were drawn between God’s creative power and Michelangelo’s creation of art.
In contrast to his ‘divine’ status as an artist he was a melancholic solitary man; he lived in Rome near brothels and slaughterhouses – one of his letters describes his area as ‘surrounded by dungheaps’. He also describes himself as sleeping badly and how he lived in poverty. However, he amassed a huge fortune and invested in property (how modern!).
His melancholic nature was in contrast to the fact that he was jovial with his friends and witty and clever with words; he wrote poetry and illustrated his letters with little sketches. One of these shows him painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling standing upright on a scaffold whereas tradition often shows him lying on his back.
The Sistine Chapel is of course one of his defining works, and perhaps the head of Noah is a self portrait – a drunken Noah is surrounded by his sons who are ridiculing him. Did Michelangelo portray himself deliberately like this as he himself has bad relationships with his brothers? It is interesting to contrast the pose of Adam with the body of Noah, there are similarities in the right arm and legs but an entirely different emotion in the posture.
In 1508 the young Raphael turns up in Florence. Michelangelo is antithesis of Raphael who was adopted by the Pope’s architect so they were both working for the same patron. In Raphael’s ‘School of Athens’ he portrays Michelangelo as Heraclitus who is the figure left of centre in the front, leaning on his elbow. Rather than wearing Greek robes he appears to be in his working clothes and has a pencil and paper. Is this portrayal homage or slight mockery?
The sculpture of David is another of Michelangelo’s iconic works. There was a strong homosexual culture at the time and male beauty was celebrated and elevated into the ideal.
Michelangelo did fall in love with a young Florentine man called Andrea Quartesi and his portrait of him is the only surviving portrait drawing by the artist.
It is possible that in Michelangelo’s fresco of the ‘Last Judgement’, St Bartholomew (holding his flayed skin) may be a self portrait. If so, it is a striking image of the artist in old age.
He died in 1564, an exceptional age and was working until the end of his life leaving some of his sculptures uncompleted. The inventory of his possessions at his death describes no furniture of any value, but 21 sacks of gold coins! The blend of contradictory aspects in his life revealed themselves in his art.
These works and many more too numerous to mention were described in Caroline’s enjoyable lecture which demonstrated her detailed knowledge of her subject who said ‘every artist paints himself’.