T. J. Clark comes to London to shed new light on Picasso and ‘truth’

Published in Trebuchet Magazine

This autumn, acclaimed art historian T. J. Clark has been travelling round London giving talks about his latest book ‘Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica’. In this book Clark concentrates on the artwork Picasso produced during the 1920s, which has been considered not to be the artist’s best period. Indeed, Greenberg calls the results of this artistic epoch a failure of nerve. Other scholars have criticised Picasso’s art at this time in terms of its ‘brightness’, condemning it as overdone. Clark conveyed that he wanted to re-address the 1920s because it is neglected and misunderstood – a motive that fits well with his well-known desires to re-address the methodologies and focuses of the history of art in a new type of Social Art History.

Clark concentrates on three particular paintings in his central chapters. The first, ‘Guitar and Mandolin on a Table’ 1924, which he renames ‘Still Life in Front of a Window’, is the largest still life Picasso ever did. Next to be considered is ‘The Three Dancers’ made in 1925 – a painting Picasso said was his best, or better than ‘Guernica’. This is renamed as ‘Young Girls Dancing in Front of a Window’ in Clark’s book. The last central painting addressed is ‘The Painter and His Model’ 1927, which is by far the least well-known work of the three. The renaming of the paintings to locate the subject matter within rooms and to include window references is important for Clark’s argument, as I hope to illustrate later.  Continue reading


‘My Antonia’, a novel by Willa Cather 1918

Sensation, landscapes of the past, and the female Muse

Antonia is less of a character than she is a sensation or feeling. We feel her presence rather than see or understand her, and we do not interpret her character but use it to interpret other experiences and characters within the novel. This is similar to the way the landscape is described and experienced by narrator and male protagonist Jimmy. He describes “there were none of the signs of spring for which I used to watch in Virginia […] There was only – spring itself; the throb of it, the light restlessness, the vital essence of it everywhere…” (97). This emphasises that My Antonia is not about outward appearances and concrete representations, but is about feelings. These are feelings of loneliness, rootlessness, nostalgia, and fear of others, from people struggling to retain their passions and inspirations in the face of different sources of oppression and prejudice within the hostile landscape of Nebraska and surrounding towns.  Continue reading

A-way with words: Mira Schendel retrospective at Tate Modern

This article was published in HART Magazine, the UCL History of Art magazine pp.16-17. 

25 September 2013 – 19 January 2014

The current exhibition at Tate Modern traces Brazilian artist Mira Schendel’s increasing obsession with words, letters, prose and poetry in her experiments with abstraction and installation. Geometric sketchbook drawings, spray-painted slogans, abstract still-lifes in oil, words executed on rice paper, and bold prints and collages are included in the exhibition, indicating the diversity of the artist’s practice.

Schendel uses literary influences to both guide the structure and themes of her work. This creates a playful interaction between words and images, function and form, sound and silence, and art and life itself. In this way, the artist inquires into the very fabric and seams of human life and explores philosophical questions of being, believing and voids. This focus is reflected in the types of literature she draws upon, as it is mostly philosophical being by the British theologian John Henry Newman, and the philosophers Ludwig Wittgenstein and Jean Gebser.  Continue reading