Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Friday, 5 November 2010

The poop was beaten gold, etc, etc

Stay with me, please. It’s not merely about TV you’ll never see.

The programme concerned self-portraiture. Given 90 minutes, writer/commentator Laura Cumming “stepped back” from Dürer’s unflinching gaze, followed Rembrant’s monumental series on “what it was like from inside to grow old”, revealed David in his jail to be “confused”, sympathised with Courbet as an early Master of the Universe, explained why Mondrian’s self-portrait couldn’t be “a Mondrian”.

Van Gogh doesn’t incorporate madness into his self-portraits, rather a growing technical logic. We laugh too at Mark Wallinger’s sculpture of a capital I in Times New Roman.

Here’s where it gets hard. Laura Cumming (art critic of The Observer) is beautiful. It shouldn’t matter but it did. Her loveliness is throwaway with blonde hair, carelessly clipped up, gradually releasing strands all over. She dresses casually but Mrs BB, who agrees about her beauty, says her clothes are expensive. Whatever - she flits down the Montmartre steps and it’s heart-breaking.

But this is not old BB “dying of bitches”. The sculptor Messerschmitt went round the bend and created heads in which he pulled astoundingly ugly faces. Cumming reaches out, draws her face near and the sculpted head becomes magically beautiful in itself. And self-evidently a masterpiece. Aping Warhol she dons sunglasses, slips into a photobooth, imitates the sequence Warhol took including one “where he appears to be hanged” and I see what Warhol is on about.

Without her looks Cumming’s enthusiasm and easy knowledge would have made a memorable programme. With her looks it was a killer. Am I simply a seduced older man? Disagreements about clothing aside, Mrs BB says she too was impressed.