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Tag: Picasso

how to read music – Cello Sonata in D major, opus 102, no 2 – Beethoven


     “Head in Black and Green (1913) 

            Alexej von Jawlensky


the line of music, the essential melody, 
is not resolved in Beethoven until several 
bars from the beginning in his Fifth Cello
Sonata, one note follows another without 
any specific reference to what preceded it 
but the tempo, and the voice, which is to 
say, its tonality

there is ever, however, though perhaps 
sometimes eccentric, a harmony, a 
convincing argument, we are speaking 
the same language

as in reading, one follows the musical 
line for those several bars, hanging 
onto each note for meaning, spotting 
even commas, semi-colons, periods, 
however unconsciously, until one 
reaches the end of the paragraph,
made evident by the recapitulation

therefore music
which doesn’t only, however, 
recapitulate, here, but elaborates, 
adding depth, dimension, local 
colour, to the already intricate 

Beethoven is challenging the very 
idea of music in this composition
much as later the Impressionists 
did, for instance, when they 
upended the entrenched idea of 
merely representational art – 
process I saw reverberating in my 
very own 1950’s, ’60’s, when even 
Monet, people objected, could’ve 
been managed by their children

Picasso, of course, was, at the time, 
nothing less than a joke, not to 
mention any of the Surrealists, or – 
gasp – the Expressionists, see

I prefer the very early cello sonatas  
of Beethoven, for their verve, their 
energy, the second movement, the 
Adagio con molto sentimento 
d’affetto” in this late oneoverdoes 
it, I think, a little, it’s like sitting with 
someone you can’t leavewhose 
sorrow is immense, and which you 
can barely handle, but must, out of,
if nothing else, chivalry, or common,
and insuperable, one hopes, human
consider, and duly, 
thus, proffer, ideally, grace

who hasn’t been there

R ! chard

Concierto de Aranjuez – Joaquín Rodrigo (Cañizares)‏


                                                  El Jaleo (1882) 

                                             John Singer Sargent



not much is heard from Spain during
Western music’s Golden Ages, Baroque,
Classical, Romantic, Impressionist,
now even Pop’s, Rock’s, Punk’s, 
Post-, in all their incarnations, Modern’s 

nor of Art, for that matter, where most 
of its bright lights seem to have fled 
to Paris for its freedom and inspiration
and where other nationalities, rather, 
sang or painted their praises more 
successfully – think of “Carmen”, for 
instance, of France’s Georges Bizet,
or, of course, Picasso
but listen to this wonderful concerto
Aranjuezwhich nearly single-handedly
should allow compatriots to claim their 
place among the very cherished elite
like Grieg did for Finland, for Poland, 
Chopin, for instance, who also, 
incidentally, found his fame in Paris, 
perhaps because France had only 
recently then become republic, if 
you’ll remember, maybe
the Concierto de Aranjuez is for guitar
and orchestra, an unlikely, though not
at all unwelcome, prime position among
a swell of other musicians, especially 
after listening to bassoons, for example,
take in front of them centre stage 
Cañizares, a flamenco guitarist of 
extraordinary gifts, deft fingers flying,  
fashioning frets into filigree, latticework,  
lacework, of irresistible artistry, does the   
coveted honours, along with an impeccable 
Simon Rattle wielding brilliant baton, 
while the Berliner Philharmonikerhowever 
improbably, make up the rest of this dream 
this is one you won’t want to miss, I utterly,
and unreservedly, promise
enjoy it
psst: remarkably, Rodrigo, blind from the 
         age of three, having lost his sight to 
         diphtheria, wrote all of his music in 
         Braille, for it to be transcribed later
          to the question, how would you like 
          to die – he lived to be ninety-seven –  
          he answered, I think, cleverly, and 
          delightfully enigmatically, under no 


Bill and Flossie Williams

Arshile Gorky - "Hitler invades Poland" (1939)

Hitler Invades Poland (1939)

Arshile Gorky


it must be understood that World War l
changed everything, the old order,
orders, had been discredited, new
states were formed, territories allotted,
-isms proliferated, the arts had to, of
course, reflect that, and did, as many
-isms were hatched in the art world
as in the political world, indeed,
many more

which is why much of it at first
seems questionable, practitioners
were learning anew how to talk, paint,
make music, they were creating a new
conceptual universe to replace the one
that had been roundly discredited, the
one that had been around in the West
for the last two thousand years

therefore Schoenberg, therefore
Picasso, and therefore Finnegan’s
for instance

we’ve been studying American
Modernists in the classes on the
Internet I’m taking
, none of whom
I find interesting, and I’m, contrary
to all expectations, losing even my
early enthusiasm for the much too
thorny, I think, Emily Dickinson

but here’s another abstruse poet
that I like in this poem

though I much prefer his wife
Flossie’s sardonic reply
, which


This Is Just To Say (1934)

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

William Carlos Williams


Flossie’s Reply (1934)

Dear Bill: I’ve made a
couple of sandwiches for you.
In the ice-box you’ll find
blue-berries–a cup of grapefruit
a glass of cold coffee.

On the stove is the tea-pot
with enough tea leaves
for you to make tea if you
prefer–Just light the gas–
boil the water and put it in the tea

Plenty of bread in the bread-box
and butter and eggs–
I didn’t know just what to
make for you. Several people
called up about office hours–

See you later. Love. Floss.

Please switch off the telephone.

Florence Williams


go Florence, I say, but you can
see, of course, why I’d say that


Botero’s Abu Ghraib

Botero's Abu Ghraib

Fernando Botero standing before three of over 80 of his stylized
depictions of atrocities committed at Abu Ghraib


the role of art has always been to bring
attention to injustice, Goya, for instance,
famously, Picasso’s Guernica“, without
which Guernica would be forgotten, in
literature the servile position of women
and those marginalized by industrialization
in the works of Charles Dickens, Henrik
Ibsen, Émile Zola, in music the strident
strains of Shostakovich indelibly
imprinting the cruel depredations
of the Soviet system in his searing
compositions, just click

Botero, as the others, has given here
impermeability to what had been merely
news items, something tragic but lost
amongst so many other tragedies, by
giving it ideological breadth, depth and
substance, giving it the modern postion
of an altarpiece, a place of ardent

we have after all no more churches,
only malls, we rely on potent images
for our moral guidance

therefore art


my Bruges, December 24, 2013‏ (the Groeningemuseum)

Pieter Pourbus - Portrait of Jan Lopez Gallo and His Three Sons (1568)

“Portrait of Jan Lopez Gallo and His Three Sons” (1568)

Pieter Pourbus


if Proust had his little patch of yellow wall
from Vermeer’s “View of Delft” to enchant
him, I’ve succumbed rather to blues that
I’ve found now in three paintings, van Eyck’s
Madonna and Child with Canon Joris van
der Paele
“, both of them, years ago at
London’s National Gallery the ultramarine
of the extraordinary Wilton Diptych, just
click, then again just click for a wonderful
presentation of it
, then the steel blue of the
one above, the “Portrait of Jan Lopez Gallo
and His Three Sons
” by Pieter Pourbus,
also like the van Eyck at the
Groeningemuseum in Bruges, a bargain
there therefore in unforgettable blues

the Groeningemuseum is Bruges’ most
impressive museum, despite both the
Picasso and the Dali nearby, though
nothing is very far in Bruges, except,
of course, the outskirts

we had wandered across the wrong
bridge our final day, confusing our
canals, and diligently marched forward
along a street perpendicular to our
purpose, heading out into what appeared
to be only countryside, though not
especially unduly cause we’d been
looking for Bruges’ famous windmills

but there were no windmills at all in
the distance, only open fields, and the
unending length of the wrong canal, it
transpired, had it been ever so
nevertheless idyllic

about a mile out a young man on a bike
passed us by with his dog and replied
when we asked that the windmills had
been all the time behind us, directly
to the left of our original bridge,
right there behind a tree which had
obstructed our view of the first of

that’s what you get maybe, I guessed,
for chasing, even famous, windmills

meanwhile back at the
Groeningemuseum, set along a path
along other medieval buildings, stone
instead of brick as later, then over a
bridge and beyond a small garden,
the door opens to especially early
Flemish art of very transcendental
qualifications, see again, for instance,
above, more profound than either the
brash Picasso, his fine though not
essential museum there, and the
flamboyant Dali, great fun however
ubiquitous ever, his museums seem
to pop up in countless cities

later, up the street, we ate at the
Maria van Bourgondië again, cause
nowhere could we find for Mom some
pasta, and where I could still savour
their Stroganoff sauce from the
previous night, and where, last but
not least, we could rest after a long
day our tired, tried indeed, feet

the Stroganoff was again sublime

so was their fireplace


“Song of the South”‏ – Walt Disney

it’s been over fifty years since I’ve seen this movie,
never thought I’d see it again but now for the magic
of the Internet, the boundless trove of irreducible
treasures, like those in Ali-Baba’s caves, or the
attics of our ancestors, stowed away, open again
to our poetic or otherwise imaginations, at our
very fingertips
I remembered this movie to be wonderful, moving,
but not much else, except for the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-
Dah” theme, which is unforgettable, and a single
plot twist it would be unchivalrous to divulge 
it has apparently been controversial, and is
presently banned, it would appear, in cinemas,
but it would be to my mind as racially insensitive
as “Huckleberry Finn”, “Tom Sawyer’, or even
“Gone with the Wind” have been, when they
were patently giving voice rather to a shocking
human cultural, and political, abomination, 
however awkwardly, that is still powerfully,
shamefully, even manifestly, resonant
this is not a universal, note, condition, every
season for any culture has its bugbears, its
demons and monsters, and woe to the
unfortunate and inadvertent victim 
in perhaps his most wonderful movie, and there
were quite a few, Song of the South“, Walt Disney 
lets us know that we’re all in this together, and
that kindness meets kindness in everyone, when
you open your heart 
and that the reverse is horrible 
Walt Disney is of course one of the great cultural
influences of the 20th Century, dismissed among
the titans as merely for kids
Walt Disney will be for an entire generation the
place where we learned our moral ABCs, much
more than in the dire Bible
as such he’s no less significant an artist, not at
all less significant, than Monet, Picasso, for
instance, Beethoven, Shakespeare, in shaping
our present moral and aesthetic world 
you’ll need some Kleenex 
you can also sing along 
psst: filmed, I’m sure, right here in beautiful Stanley
         Park behind my place in Vancouver, even the
         animated portions    

“Winter Mood” – Leonid Afremov


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Winter Mood
Leonid Afremov 

the thick application of paint in this painting, impasto,
and the disorder of acid colours in the foreground leaves, 
bring to mind Cézanne for me, 
and by inference, I guess, the more appealing, I think, Van Gogh
but the Belarusian Afremov, you might find interesting to know,
is from Vitebsk, the birthplace of Chagall,
studied at the school Chagall founded there,
as did incidentally in their times Malevich and Kandinsky also  
but the poetry of solitude by which this work touches me so
I find most reminiscent of Friedrich Caspar David‘s “The Wanderer“,
no less iconic a Romantic figure in art than Byron, Shelley, Keats became,
not to mention in Germany Goethe‘s tragic “Werther“, or in France, Victor Hugo 
in Spain the much earlier Don Quixote, inspired much later his compatriot Picasso,
whose own lonely horseman is to my mind recalled here, 
and in film more recent lonesome cowboys ride instead of on an open range
an empty street through a park in Paris maybe, Dresden, or Toronto
as on life’s journey they find, and we, each our road to follow 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      thought I’d pass it along