Saturday, 28 November 2015

Saturday Evenings: Stay In, Sit Up and Switch On

The more I look at it, the more the lobster resembles a handset. An impossible handset, I will give you that, but a handset nonetheless. Of course I am talking about Dali’s “lobster telephone”.

The surrealist object was on my mind recently because I have been following Sky Arts series “Landscape Artist of the Year”. I have not watched the final yet, so, please, no spoilers, if you, too, are keen on the show.

There have not been any surrealist paintings per se so far (well, none that I would call “orthodox surrealism”, which in itself would be an oxymoron, since surrealism was a mould-breaking movement). There have been a few “surprises”, though. This is where the “lobster” comes into the picture (pun almost intended). When it comes to landscaping, we expect the finished work on the canvas to match the view in front of it. In the semi-final, the view contestants had to work on was Tower Bridge. Two of them, however, did away with conventions and came up with bizarre but highly creative pieces. Their risk-taking approach was all the odder when one takes into account that Tower Bridge has been one of London’s most easily recognisable landmarks for almost a century and a half.


This is not a lobster
From a layperson’s point of view, when I see a painting of a land-, city- or sea-scape, I unconsciously expect it to resemble the geography it represents. I should clarify that that was maybe thirty-odd years ago before my first brush with impressionism. Ever since I discovered that movement I began falling more for the “mood” of a piece than for the painter’s “loyalty” to their surroundings. If we are to believe arts specialists – and I see no reason why not to occasionally – visual art began as an aesthetic response to the artist’s environment. Look at those drawings in caves and think of our ancestors attempting to capture the exact physical features of bisons, perhaps without the skills that evolution would provide them with in years to come. Nevertheless, the intention was there already. The impulse to leave a mark behind, a mark that was faithful to the landscape that gave them shelter and food.

This is what art did for so many centuries. It created reality-based patterns that were easily recognisable. Familiarity won over risk-taking. Impressionism, Dadaism, surrealism and modernism brought new challenges to the game, not just for practitioners, but also for us, art lovers. Suddenly, a pipe was not a pipe and a urinal could be displayed in an art gallery. Back to Sky Arts’ “Landscape Artist of the Year” and what I have enjoyed the most is how contestants have been given free rein to “ruin” a perfect view. I am joking, of course, for all works have been, in my humble opinion, of the highest quality. Yet, a few have defied convention and their owners are the ones who have been rewarded with a place in the final and the opportunity of a ten-thousand-pound commission from the National Trust. Reminds me of that lobster somewhat and the role of crustaceans in the development of visual arts in human history.



© 2015

Next Post: “Urban Diary”, to be published on Wednesday 2nd December at 6pm (GMT)

25 comments:

  1. Nice retro telehone and good music:))))Masself iam listening to Genesis In deep!:))

    Have a happy weekend!

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    1. I love Genesis. Both with Peter and Phil, I hasten to add. :-)

      Greetings from London.

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  2. Of all Dali's work the one which I found most intriguing (and a poster of it graced my walls for many years) was his Swans Reflecting Elephants. They did. And I marvelled at the new perspective he gave me.
    I suspect I would have LOVED this series. Thank you.

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    1. Same here. The composition is so strong that it takes the mind a couple of seconds to register that something is not in the place where it should be or something is not what is should be. I love surrealism for that reason.

      Greetings from London.

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  3. Mashing things up a bit can sure take a new spin on things, nothing wrong with seeing a new view. Those are the ones that get the win.

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    1. Mate, you do the same mash-up with your witty poetry and that is why i keep going back to your blog. I shall pop over in a sec to see what the cat's up to tonight. :-)

      Greetings from London.

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  4. a real lobster would have the potential to be a pain in the ear (or lip depending on which end claws were facing)! Good essay.

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  5. I love music like this...old and smooth. I love that retro phone! :)

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  6. Dali's lobster phone is interesting, but I prefer Meret Oppenheim's Fur Teacup from 1936. Check it out and imagine taking a sip from a cup covered in fur. Makes me shiver just thinking about it.

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  7. I want that lobster phone! I have been away from television for a while - didn't know the series was in progress. However, I can always play catch-up.
    Incidentally, I also like Nina Simone, great voice.

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  8. A wonderful last line especially here, Cubano. I do not have a TV and don't know that show--maybe it will be imported here. I think fine arts--painting, etc--get a very rough go with the populous--people are somehow so worried about being tricked-- it sounds like a fun show though. Take care, k.

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  9. Hi Blogoratti - after time I begin to understand some modern art - some I despair of! I think I might put the lobster phone in that category ... yet I know what it is. I went to the Courtauld Gallery (it's on til 17 January - if you can get down there) last week to see "Soaring Flight" - Peter Lanyon's Gliding Paintings ... I used to glide from that airfield (Perranporth, Cornwall) ... and at the same time as he died ... but I struggled to get my head round the artworks ... I couldn't take photos of even the writing ... I'd have to liked to ponder them. I have a Damien Hirst to post about in a few weeks when I reach it on my West Country travels ... cheers Hilary

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  10. I love Impressionist art and surreal art.. and Nina Simone. Oh, and lobster. ;)

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  11. I enjoyed this post, especially your closing line, LOL. That is quite the phone, all right.....would play hell with my curls. Smiles.

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  12. Marvelous post. Nina is a treasure. This will knock your sox off!


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwXai-sgM-s&list=RDPwXai-sgM-s

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    1. That song still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand. :-) Thanks.

      Greetings from London.

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  13. Well, I can do without this phone :)

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  14. ... missing U and Ur comments ... Love, cat.

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    1. ... btw: goin 2 Cuba shortly ... U want me 2 bring U sum cigars? ... smiles ... Love, cat.

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    2. We got the Cuban bug, huh? :-) I hope you have a fab trip. Will pop over your blog soon.

      Greetings from London.

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  15. If only someone made a cell phone like that....

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  16. That series sounds like something I'd really enjoy.

    I LOVE Dali's work. The best art show I've ever seen at Atlanta's High Museum was devoted to Dali works, both paintings and sculptures. And I think it is totally cool that when my husband and I went to the National Gallery in Washington D.C. when we were in high school, we both... separately... purchased the same Dali print from the gift shop. Guess we were just meant to be...:) (It was the one of the Last Supper.)

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  17. I like surrealism, impressionism and even abstract art. I think the advent of photography freed painters from the need to be loyal to what they actually saw in front of themselves and gave them the opportunity to start to experiment more.

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