How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

Kasia Redzisz and Lauren Barnes (eds.), Maria Lassnig (London: Tate, 2016)
Beatrice von Bormann, Klaus Albrecht Schröder and Antonia Hoerschelmann (eds.), Maria Lassnig: Ways of Being (Amsterdam?: Hirmer, 2019)

I first came across the work of Maria Lassnig (1919-2014) at Tate Liverpool, doubled with an exhibition of Francis Bacon. In that case, I think Bacon won, perhaps because I have a sense of how to read his work. And I was bunking off from a conference, so perhaps I didn’t give her a sufficient chance. Certainly, I didn’t write her off. Three years later, I was in Amsterdam to do the Rembrandt blockbuster, repeating the Van Gogh, and then going to the Stedelijk Museum where, in my ignorance, I didn’t know there a huge retrospective of her work, which was to go onto the Albertina (and I don’t think I saw any of her work in Vienna).

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Snared

Laura Cumming, The Vanishing Man: In Pursuit of Veláquez (2017)

11DCFAA8-9739-41CB-8C40-CB74C289B9F0I was browsing the freebie table at Worldcon when I found this and picked it up. I confess that I haven’t much knowledge of Diego Veláquez, a seventeenth century Spanish painter, beyond Las Meninas as inspiration for Picasso and Pope Innocent X as inspiration for Bacon. It seemed to be a book about a single painting — and then I noticed the author was Laura Cumming, art critic for The Observer and author of On Chapel Sands, a biography of her mother’s hidden past.
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Sprayting

Sidney Nolan (Ikon, Birmingham, 10 June—3 September 2017)

I usually say to students that there are no stupid questions. But I fear that I asked one on Saturday — but in defence I’d done battle with Google Maps twice and had gone in exactly the wrong direction, in search of coffe, and then the gallery. “How old was he when he painted these?” I asked.

Given this year marks Sidney Nolan’s centenary, it ought to be basic maths. Mid sixties or older. The gallery attendant had suggested that Nolan painted these canvases whilst hanging from a harness — although the catalogue doesn’t mention this. A photo of him shows him with a flat canvas, which would make sense given the way the paint seems to bleed, but I am sceptical about his acrobatics.

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