August 25th, 2013

doctor cuppa

the gorilla in the room

Well, it wasn't a disaster in the rational scheme of things, but it did feel like a rolling comedy of unfunny errors. Having to change the dates was my fault. Everything that happened after? Well, that was probably my fault, too.

Decided to go down to Melbs to see the world's most miserable and depressing Monet show. Seriously. It was just (as always, never the good stuff) the last works of the last years, when he was mostly blind and distressed over WWI. I've always wondered why the five hundred (or seems like) paintings of his pond, and now I know. World War One was raging outside, pretty much on his doorstep, and instead of engaging I guess he retreated, which is a valid response, imho. Especially when you're old and tired. I can see it now. It's all too horrible to deal with, lookit, waterlilies, so tranquil, so constant. I get it, but it's effing sad.

Then it all gets smeary and ugly as he seems to just melt and bleed all over the canvasses. Pretty awful, I thought, watching the man disintergrate before my eyes, canvas by canvas. Like I said, a wretched exhibition.

Much better was the accompanying Australians In Paris exhibition, because all Australian artists between about 1880 and WWI had to go to Paris. And so they did. So here are the usual suspects (Condor, Preston, Ramsay, Fox, etc) painting in France instead of what are now outer suburbs of Melbourne (then, rolling hills of semi-rural wilderness). I liked. Because it was my usual crew of favourites, and whle I prefer their Oz paintings (because the light is right, I can never get over the dimmer ASA 100 light in Europe, even though I know it's true) I didn't mind the odd peasant, the obligatory haystacks, and those wonderful, wonderful flower gardens and Chinese lanterned parties. Why do Parisian parks always look so good on canvas, and are so drab in reality?

So, that was fun, and surprisingly well attended. Put on some Aussies and no one will go (cultural cringe), but mention Paris, and you'll scoop up a few punters. It's a shame they're not more highly esteemed or well known (I was the only one who didn't need to read the bios, and I got some odd looks cause I didn't) in their home country (as opposed to country of origin, the question of what qualifies an artist as 'Australian' is vexed, but as an art historian put it bluntly 'if they've pissed here, they're Australian', which is the test I use for the British Actors list, if you're interested) because those Aussies, they were mixing with Monet, Van Gough, Toulouse-Lautrec, etc. Right in it, in other words. As you'd expect from an Australian abroad - grin.

The other exhibition I saw was the Hollywood Costume one at ACMI, a cut down version of the V&A exhibition. I assume it was cut down as it only went for one room, and I remember reading quite a few key pieces did not travel. I think it was my abiding fed up-ness, and the crowds, because even though I saw Audrey's black dress from Breakfast at Tiffanys, Marilyn's infamous rayon-y thing, Tippi's green dress from The Birds, Kim Novak's green dress from Vertigo, I was all very meh, especially as it was mostly Depp, Di Niro and Streep, actors I do not care for.

One thing that did bemuse me, and I'm sure there must be a proper term was it, was the period costume paradox. That is, when a designer tries to evoke another age, they tend to scream the era in which their outfit was made. Thus the very Thirties outfits for Cleopatra, the oh so Sixties dress for Camelot, and Sean Young's Oh My God It's The 80s dress from Bladeruuner that was supposed to be evoking the 40s.
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